Lightroom: changing your perception

My first encounter with Lightroom was something like “too many knobs”… I just was so used to different image editing software from my Windows-years, that I never dared to dive into the whole Photoshop&Co. world. But after my Windows-laptop died (just as the Macbook Pro Retina “late 2013” became available), the path seemed to be clear: getting back into photography (and therefore serious image-processing) meant, there was no way around Lightroom (and a Mac) anymore. It turned out to be easier than I thought: it’s very straight forward, very intuitive and there’s tons of tutorials and webinars out there to help you understand it. After a few weeks, already, I did not understand, how I could have refrained from using it.

Now, using Lightroom also meant exploring its possibilities. Editing images turned out to be so much easier than it had been years before, and so I started to stretch boundaries and experiment. Some friends said “well, this is not the original picture anymore, that has got nothing to do with reality” – in other words: they had a pretty “journalistic” approach to photography. But I personally had always tried more to visualize the feeling, a scene evokes in me, so I saw no big deal in even altering a picture to something completely different. I mean: don’t we all start all that already by choosing the viewing angle, the exposure, the depth of field, the whole composition? So why shouldn’t I go all the way and also give the photo a look, that mimics my emotions, when discovering the motive? Whenever my friends now “complain” about my pictures, I tell them “I know, that this is not reality – just look at me as painting with the camera”…

The unedited original
The unedited original

One of the keys to that is using the RAW format, since it allows a wide variation of development settings. Even in extremely dark or light portions of the picture, there is still much information to gather from, whereas using JPGs, you’d be very limited. That’s the big advantage of lossless over data-reduced formats.

By experimenting with all the options, Lightroom, Photoshop and several plugins offered, I also soon discovered, that changing the photo was changing my emotional perception of it, as well. Here are 6 different versions of the very same picture, taken on a late afternoon, about an hour before sunset. I’ve done nothing fancy with it, I did not use any plugins, I just applied different exposure settings in Lightroom, some vignetting at times and some variations within the RGB gradation curve. Y0u’re welcome to describe in the comments-section below, how these variations changed your perception of this motive…