Dusk in the Superstitions

The new version 4 of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom is quite an improvement, and I think it’s going to completely change my photography workflow. For years I have been using Bridge, Camera Raw and Photoshop as my workflow, but in 90% of all photo editing, I can see Lightroom 4 handling it all.

The main advance that won me over is the improvement in dynamic range processing. For an image with a very wide range of tones, Lightroom 4 allows you to achieve near-HDR results just by using the new “highlights” and “shadows” adjustments, available in the new “2012” process.

Compare the two images below, shot after sunset in the Superstition mountains last February. First, the image processed using the old “2010” process, using the “highlight recovery” and “fill light” adjustments:

Sunset photo of the Superstition Mountains
“Superstitions Dusk”, processed with the old 2010 method in Lightroom.

Note the washed out sky, halos around the transition areas, and low contrast in the shadows.

Now take a look at the 2012 process:

Sunset photo of the Superstition Mountains
“Superstitions Dusk”, using the new Lightroom 4’s 2012 process.

You can see that it handles the dynamic range much better. There is recovered detail and color in the bright areas of the sky and transition halos are almost gone.

I think what this means is that for an image without clipped highlights or shadows, we can achieve good results without jumping through all of the usual HDR hoops. I like it!

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