Ontario Journalist, Writer, Photography & Filmmaker

The Power of Lightroom, Redux

This is a follow up to my original Power of Lightroom article from just about a year ago.  Lightroom has been improved with each new version and while the black and white capability and the Adjustment Brush capability have been in place before v3, I thought I’d take the opportunity to toss in a new article on Lightroom for black and white.  Probably 80% of what I do with editing photos, I do now with Lightroom.  There are still some things I use Photoshop for and I’d never give up Photoshop but Lightroom is a wonderful piece of software.

I was going back and looking at some of my colour images recently to see if I could find some that would make a good translation to black and white.  I’d looked at this image of The Grotto in Bruce Peninsula National Park before and had stayed away from it but this time decided to give it a closer look.  As an aside, if you’ve not been to the Bruce Peninsula, I’d highly recommend it.  BPNP has some great hiking and excellent photography opportunities.  There are a number of other great spots on the Peninsula as well.  Back to our image.

The Power of Lightroom, Redux, RF-Photography
The Grotto, Colour Original (click for larger version)

Clicking the B&W option in the Develop module of LR, gave a flat, dull, blah result.  Not untypical of a straight b&w conversion.

The Power of Lightroom, Redux, RF-Photography
Straight B&W Conversion (click for larger version)

I’ve become a big fan of the Brightness Brush in Lightroom for dodging and burning.  After making some colour mix changes and making a curve adjustment, I set to work with the Brightness brush, alternating between increased and decreased brightness, working on different parts of the image.  When all was said and done, I’d applied 97 separate dodge/burn adjustments with the Brightness brush using nearly 50 control points.

The Power of Lightroom, Redux, RF-Photography
Grotto Control Points (click for larger version)

In the end, I ended up with the black and white conversion below after some final sharpening.  I think it retains much more of the vibrance and contrast of the original colour image.  What do you think?

The Power of Lightroom, Redux, RF-Photography
The Grotto Final B&W Conversion (click for larger version)

Could the same have been done in Photoshop?  Yep, absolutely.  Since Adobe Camera RAW has the same tools as Lightroom I could have opened the image in ACR and gone that route.  I find the Adjustment Brush in ACR less user friendly in terms of resizing the brush so the process is slower.  I could have used any of several dodge/burn techniques in Photoshop and while the results would likely have been as good, the process would have been slower, I believe, and since I’d have been using layers, the image file would have ended up being larger.  With Lightroom, I create a snapshot of the black and white version and can come back to it whenever I like.  Two versions, one image file.  Nice.

What do you think?  How are you using Lightroom, or other tools, to realise your creative vision?  Would love to read your feedback.