August 04, 2011
Shoot and Edit: Week 30 – Sunset…EDIT
Welcome to the 30th week of Shoot and Edit: Part 2. Click HERE for all the details and upcoming prompts/themes (also including previous editing tutorials). This week’s theme or prompt was to show us one “Sunset” SOOC shot (this was just a suggestion, you can show us any SOOC shot). Hopefully you linked up with Jill’s blog earlier this week.

Each Thursday, I will take my SOOC shot and provide a simple/basic or advanced Photoshop/Photoshop Elements or Lightroom tutorial. You can then try my tutorial on your own photos and link up here – linky will now open EARLY on Thursdays and be open THROUGH SUNDAY. If you’d prefer, can simply share your own edit and show us what you did to achieve the look.

We want this challenge to be a learning experience, so feel free to teach us something new too! Also, it does not matter what editing program you use. Although I tend to work within Adobe CS5 (Photoshop), Photoshop Elements, Adobe Camera Raw and now Lightroom…it does not mean that you have to use the exact same program. I hope you’ll be able to take the concepts and apply them in the program you feel most comfortable using.

Last week, we had an incredible guest tutorial by Caroline. If you missed her Lightroom Tutorial, be sure to click HERE. I find that the best way to learn any software program is by forcing yourself to use the software (cough cough…to those of you that have had Photoshop Elements on your computer for months and still use Picnik or Picassa…), so although I’m probably still more comfortable in Photoshop, I decided to jump back into Lightroom 3 this week. Here’s my SOOC shot again:
When I reopened my SOOC shot this week, I really had no intentions of writing a tutorial (even though I didn’t have a guest lined up). However, I did want to find some tips, tricks, tutorials, etc. that would help us better process sunset (or sunrise photos for that matter) a little better. Hopefully, today’s post will offer some useful information.

Starting in Lightroom, I’ve found that there are some awesome FREE presets available on the web. You can certainly process your photos manually (and if you scroll down, I’ve included a video tutorial demonstrating how to add dramatic colors using Adobe Camera Raw – same steps would apply in Lightroom), but I find that presets really simply the process. Joop Snijder offers a couple of presets that really enhance sunset photos: Warm Sunset-Dusk and  Warm Sunset-Gold.
ScreenHunter_05 Aug. 02 21.58
After creating a virtual copy of my SOOC shot, I decided to use Warm Sunset-Dusk to enhance my image. I forgot to capture a screenshot of my before and after in Lightroom, but I did catch it in Photoshop. I actually brought both images over to Photoshop (the SOOC and the Warm Sunset-Dusk preset) and layered the SOOC on top of the edited copy. I then used a layer mask so I could still capture some of that original silhouette. 

I know what you’re thinking…1) you might not even see the difference (but I could) and 2) why didn’t you just increase your blacks in Lightroom. Actually, I realized that AFTER the fact, but when I tried it, I still went a little heavy. By using layers and layer masks in Photoshop, I was able to better control it. That’s probably the one thing I wish Lightroom had…layer masks.
IMG_5872 LR Combine RS
Lightroom using warm sunset preset.
Alright, so I love the adjusted Lightroom edit, but I wanted to see what I could do in Photoshop to really punch up those sunset colors. So, in Photoshop, I applied a couple of tricks:
  1. Added a warming filter at 50% density – used a layer mask to remove some of the filter from the top of the photo. This brought back some of the blue in the sky. 
  2. Duplicated this warming filter layer and applied a soft light blending mode. Lowered the opacity to 50%. I did not apply a high pass filter because I wanted the trees to have a soft edge.
  3. Opened a brightness/contrast adjustment layer. Decreased my brightness to -20 and increased my contrast to +20.
Here’s the final outcome. What do you think?
IMG_5872 Final RS
Now, if you’re a Lightroom user, you’re bored, and you want to spend a little more time working through an edit, I found a really in-depth tutorial…there are three parts to this tutorial so I did not embed the video here. However, if you really want to take it to the next level, click HERE. Actually, that website has a lot of really useful information so if nothing else, bookmark it for later.

If you’re a fan of Adobe Camera Raw, I did find a video tutorial that explains how to add dramatic color to your photographs. Although the presenter uses ACR, I’m 99% positive that the steps can be replicated in Lightroom (the buttons will just be in different places).

To recap our lesson, today we discussed how to enhance sunset colors in Lightroom, Adobe Camera Raw and Photoshop. I’ve included a couple of tutorials and more free presets so if you did a quick scroll through, be sure you pick those up. Here’s a final look at my SOOC, LR edit and final PS edit.
IMG_5872 compare
For your edit, I would love to see you continuing using the lessons we’ve covered in the past 29 weeks as well as apply today’s lesson or share something you’ve learned recently. I hope you all have a great Thursday and I look forward to seeing your edits. Next week’s theme is “Turn the Hose On!” Have a great Thursday!

By the way, dont’ forget to add your edited photo to our good to WOW {EDIT} Flickr Group (for those of you that prefer to upload and visit that way). When adding your photos to the group pool, be sure to include the Week #, the Theme and EDIT in the description section. You may upload one photo per week. I also want to point out that we are all here to improve our editing skills. When offering constructive criticism (either on Flickr or within blog comment sections), be sure to point out at least one thing you really like about the edit before offering any advice for improvement.