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84

SKILLS
Image With
Ainsley Bennett
Top advice from
2016’s Skyscapes
category winner

PROCESSING
Combining local and overall edits in Lightroom
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The final scene has a greater n October 2015, I captured an image
range of colour, softer that went on to win the Skyscapes
contrasts and subtler details category in the 2016 Insight
than the starting image Astronomy Photographer of the
Year competition. The image depicted the
Moon and Venus shining brightly in the
night sky through a layer of low lying mist.
I capture all of my images in RAW
format, which enables me to extract as
much information from the file during
post processing. I use Adobe Lightroom
for almost all of this work – it’s a great
piece of software for making basic
adjustments. RAW images tend to be
rather flat and dull, but in post processing
we can give images some depth and contrast,
and bring them to life – here’s how.
Import the RAW file into Lightroom,
open the Develop module and then
enable Lens Profile Correction to rectify
any distortion and vignetting. In the
Lens Correction Panel (it’s among the
panels on the right of the screen) tick the
Lens Profile Correction box. If your lens
The raw, unedited shot is dark
doesn’t automatically register you can
and moody, with dull hues and
a foreground lost in shadow
select it manually by clicking on the lens
profile drop-down menus for your
particular make and model.

First add some style


To add some punch to the image, use the
Tone Curve panel. Increase the Lights
slider to +90 and reduce the Darks slider
to –5. This is a strong adjustment that
immediately adds some contrast by
brightening the light areas of the image.
In my image, the foreground needed
to be brightened to balance it with the
sky, which I achieved by selecting the
Graduated Filter from the Develop
module (it’s the rectangular icon just
below the histogram). Once you are
happy with the position of the filter, use
the adjustment sliders to increase the
Exposure and Shadows slightly. This
effectively brightens the foreground,

skyatnightmagazine.com 2017
SKILLS IMAGE PROCESSING JULY 85

bringing out detail. To further enhance


this area, apply a boost to the Clarity slider.
You can also repeat this tweak on the
sky itself. For this image, I created a new
graduated filter and dragged it in the
opposite direction. To enhance the stars
and make the trees slightly more defined
I applied some Contrast and Clarity,
which darkened the sky a little but made
the stars stand out. The reason behind
using a graduated filter is that you can
make local adjustments that don’t affect
the image as a whole.
After this I turned to making overall
adjustments. The colours seemed a little
muted and rather cool, so to make them a
little more natural I increased the value of Þ Adjusting the Light and Dark sliders delivers an immediate improvement to contrast
the Temperature slider to 3310, edged the
Tint slider up to +4 and, in the Split
Toning panel, upped Highlight Saturation
to +2. These minor adjustments warmed
up the image without drastically changing
the original file, though how far you
take them is down to personal taste. To
enhance the colours further, increase
the Vibrance and Saturation sliders
under the Presence heading in the Basic
adjustment panel. These two sliders must
be used with caution, as overuse can make
an image look garish. The whole idea is to
enhance what is there without creating a
false representation.

Touch up the details


The image should now be moving closer Þ Applying a Graduated Filter allows you to tweak half of an image without affecting the other
to how you want it to look, but often
needs some final adjustments. My image
was still lacking some depth and was a
little on the dark side, so in the Basic
adjustment panel I increased Exposure
and Clarity very slightly. This made the
image pop by defining the fence posts
and trees, and brightening the sky and
foreground. Due to the increase of
exposure, the Moon and Venus then
seemed a little too bright, so to reduce
this I made another local adjustment,
this time using a radial filter.
At the top of the Develop module select
the Radial Filter (it’s the circular icon next
to Graduated Filter). I positioned the filter
over the centre of the image and dragged it
so its edges encompassed the Moon and Þ An inverted Radial Filter is ideal for editing planets and the Moon without affecting the sky
Venus, inverted the mask and set feather to
100. This meant that any adjustments made Detail panel). Select the Luminance slider needs be. Increase the value of the
ALL PICTURES: AINSLEY BENNETT

only affected the centre of the mask and and apply a figure of +10; this should be Sharpening slider until you are happy
were blended out towards the edge of enough to reduce the fine grain caused by with the way the image looks. S
the filtered area. To reduce the brightness, high ISO camera settings. The downside of
I set the filter’s Highlight slider to –45. applying noise reduction is that some fine Ainsley Bennett is a self-taught amateur
To finish the image it’s worth using the detail is smoothed out, but you can apply photographer and IAPY 2016
Noise Reduction sliders (they’re in the some sharpening to counteract this if competition category award winner.

skyatnightmagazine.com 2017