Anatomy of a Restoration

Image restoration is a task that has been made easier in some ways with digital tools but even though it may be easier, it’s still not a 5 minute exercise as some may want to lead you to believe.  In a past article I discussed the process of recreating a photo of a mural that had been damaged.  That project took about 9 hours of editing time to complete.

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The Power of Lightroom

I’ve enjoyed using Lightroom since v1.  With the improvements and new editing tools introduced in v2, it’s vastly improved.   And now with v3 on the horizon, the story should only get better.  Lightroom is now my main editing application and I typically only use PS for things that can’t be done in LR (e.g., perspective correction, more complex layer work).

As good a tool as it is for organising your photography database, I think there are a good number of people using LR who still don’t know how powerful an editing tool it is. Everything I did with the photos below can be done in PS and probably PSE and other editing applications. In most cases I find the result is better with the tools in LR and the workflow is faster and more natural. In addition, to do the same things in PS would require, in most cases, using layers to maintain the integrity of the original image which increases file sizes and chews up hard drive space.  First I’m going to show 4 images in a before and after comparison.  You may not like the photos, you may not like how I approached the editing.  That’s all fine.  I think they do show the power of the tools in LR for editing; however.  In all but one case, the only tools used were the Adjustment Brushes, Spot Removal and the Clarity slider.  In one, a slight Tone Curve adjustment was made and in the last a crop was applied.  I wanted to do a couple things with these.  I wanted to highlight the bits of colour in the surrounding evergreen trees.  Second, I wanted to bring out the texture of the Precambrian rock of the Canadian Shield.  Beyond that, I wanted to enhance contrast by darkening certain parts of the water and existing shadow areas without completely losing texture or detail.  In the last, I also wanted to brighten the waterfall itself which was hidden in fairly deep shadow and crop to create a near perfect mirrored symmetry with the reflection. Continue reading