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Tutorial: How to enhance bright sunlight photos in Lightroom

Purists and professional landscape photographers would scoff at the notion of trying to get a great shot outside of the confines of the “golden hour”. In mid-day sunlight, the shadows are way too strong, the colors are way too faded, and nothing looks good.

But when you are traveling, you obviously cannot schedule your time to visit every point of interest during the “golden hour”. In fact, simple logic suggests that you will see the majority of things in less-than-ideal lighting conditions. You can forgo taking pictures – that’s your choice. Or, you can make sure you shoot in RAW – to retain the entire spectrum of light data in your scene – and then use the simple but powerful capabilities of Lightroom to enhance your photo so it looks like a postcard.

Here is a tutorial I put together to illustrate how it is done.

Here is another look at the before and after of this photo. Click to enlarge.

Portovenere, Italy Portovenere, Italy

My first attempt at producing an online video tutorial put into focus the reason why I think I never made it in Hollywood: My English accent sounds too harsh when it is committed to a recording medium (that, and I certainly do not fit the type of a Russian gangster). After having recorded the tutorial with audio narration, I ended up replacing the sound of my voice with background music and captions. To be completely honest, it a bit dampened my enthusiasm for producing more tutorials; I do not think they work that well without a voiceover. If anyone has a view to the contrary, I’d love to hear your impressions.

Adobe CC Photography Plan runs at $9.99/month, which comes to less than the price for the standalone license of Lightroom over the course of the year. It includes both Lightroom and Photoshop (which definitely offers some advanced capabilities that an enthusiast photographer will need more than occasionally), and roughly semi-annual upgrades of both come at no extra charge, so you always have the latest and the greatest.