Correcting Exposure Problems in Lightroom
ISO 320 | 1/800sec | f/6.3
First, in Lightroom 5.0, I decided to see how the image would look if I played with the exposure values in the "Basic" panel. Here are the settings I chose to get the image below. I also cropped the image to a better composition.
- Exposure: +0.24
- Highlights: - 100
- Shadows: +60
- Blacks: -19
- Vibrance: +38
|Exposure Corrected Image|
Step 2 - Background Correction
Second, I decided to see what I could do with the background. Lightroom has a spot removal tool which functions basically like a simple clone tool. In 5.0 they allow you to click and drag the "spot" around the frame, so I selected the pine needles in the background. Unfortunately, Lightroom doesn't allow any feathering, which is kind of a downer for what I wanted to do. After I dragged the "spot" over the pine needles, Lightroom chose where in the frame to replace the section I chose. It doesn't always choose the best spot, but I can manually move it to an area that has all blue in the frame, effectively erasing the pine needles from the image. Lightroom doesn't always make this easy, but with practice and trial and error, it can work. Now I also wanted the background sky to look a little bluer, so I went to the "Color" panel and selected the blue channel. I increased its saturation by +18 and decreased its luminance by -18.
Third, since the bird's eye was not in sunlight, there was very little "catch light" in the eye. You can add it, but it will not look very natural, since it's obvious that the bird's eye is shaded. But I decided to add just a little bit. I zoomed in on the eye to about 4:1 and chose the Adjustment Brush. I set the size of the brush to about 2.5 and then simply highlighted the brighter portions of the eye. I then raised the exposure of that portion of the eye by about 2 stops. This gave a little more contrast in the eye that I thought still looked natural. Since I shot this image at ISO 320, it wasn't terribly noisy, but the shadows slider can add noise, so in the "Detail" panel I added luminance noise reduction at +18. The bill looked a little fuzzy, so I went back to the Adjustment Brush, selected the bill, and added sharpening there at +75. As almost an afterthought, I also noticed some bright portions on the foreground branch, so using the Adjustment Brush I selected that section and lowered the exposure until it looked right.
Finished Image (same as top image)