Before shooting raw, I did most of, if not all, of any post processing in Jasc's Paintshop Pro. Always amazed me how I could get that extra bit out of a photo shot as a jpeg. Straightening the horizon, correcting perspective, boosting the saturation a tad and tweaking the brightness and contrast. Minor tweaks mostly and the results? Wow! what an improvement.
And then I started processing raw files with Lightroom 2. Really loved how it allowed me to recover blown highlights, and bring a great deal more detail from out of the darker parts of a photo. I tweaked exposure, capture sharpness and maybe saturation and then pass a tiff file over to Paintshop Pro to finish up. Again. I'd see an improvement to the final photo.
Paintshop Pro was purchased by Corel. I tried a version, but preferred to stay with Jasc's last version. Lightroom came out with Version 3, but I didn't see enough of the people I followed get really excited about the improvements in the newer version, so I did not upgrade. Did learn a few new tweaks to my workflow with LR2 and PSPv9 to achieve better results in post-processing, so life was good.
Adobe released Lightroom 4 with a significant decrease in price. And I started reading in the blogs and forums I followed about how much better LR4 was to all previous versions. So I upgraded.
To be honest, I was not initially impressed, When applying my previous Lightroom workflow, I found I had to do a great deal more work to achieve similar results which would still pass to PSPv9 to finish.
I found a few tutorial on the web on how to better understand the Develop module. I purchased George Jardin's Lightroom Develop Module. Came across another tutorial series (Lightroom training : Lightroom Nuts and Bolts by Hal Schmitt ) that was free for a day. Needless to say I grabbed that one. Both great tutorials. George's more right-brain, creative, Schnmitt's much more left-brain, you can tell he trained military personnel. For me the two tutorials complimented each other perfectly. After watching and digesting both series, I was seeing actual improvements in my Lightroom processing.
Read a recent blog by Matt Kloskowski where he advised us about onOne Software offering their Perfect Effects 4 Free for downloading. He specifically mentioned the 'Tonal Contrast' effect as a 'must have' for any photographer. When Matt recommends something, I tend to pay attention, so I went and grabbed it. And played with it. And added to my post-processing workflow.
Another blog I follow, Fleeting Glimpses, is written by Rikk Flohr. Rikk has often commented how editing software continues to improve and because of that, we should re-visit old images to see if we can improve upon what we had previously done. So armed with better understanding of Lightroom 4 thanks to Jardine's & Schmitt's tutorials, the additional software recommended by Kloskowski, I put Flohr's suggestion to the test. The images that following show the progress and final results.
Taking the original Raw capture, processing it in Lightroom 4 with everything I've learned from the tutorials and then giving it that extra boost by applying Perfect Effects Tonal Contrast, and this is what results.
To me personally, I see a remarkable improvement. What say you?
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