Tonje Lilleås

Isolation/Solitude post processing – Getting the image part 3

The day is finally here! Weeks ago I made part 1 and 2 of this series of posts about getting the image through a planned photoshoot. Isolation/Solitude was a project that sprung out of this springs isolation due to COVID-19. And finally I’m ready to present part three; the post processing.

Plans were changed

Originally I wanted to shoot all the images in this series before I shared this second post in the series. However I have chosen not to do that, due to a long line of unfortunate setbacks. I’m not going to go through all of them. When my bike, my main means of transportation, was stolen this weekend I did however finally understand that I would not be able to finish shooting the series anytime soon. And so I decided to change my plans.

I will share today my post processing of the first three images in this series. Then later on I will shoot the rest of the series and share all the images as part of my portfolio. When all the images are finished, I will also publish a video about the whole process. That way I give you guys a look into my process of working with a series of images like this one, and you get to see the final result even if you haven’t seen the process behind all of the images. I hope that’s a solution that works for you! And if when I do post the whole series you have questions about the other images that aren’t in this post, just let me know and I’ll do another post answering your questions.

Shooting and curating

I chose to shoot the images in broad daylight. Harsh shadows and harsh highlights was going to be a challenge. One I really wanted to take on. Also keep in mind that what I was going for was the dark, moody and peaceful look to the images, which made for an even bigger challenge with the conditions. If you want to read more about how the images were shot, please check out part 2 of this series. In that post you will also find some descriptions of the creative choices I made while shooting.

I did decide to make a set of three images from the first shoot. One showing isolation, one showing solitude and the third kind of representing the difference between the two for me. How is the third image of the camera in my hand representing the difference between isolation and solitude you might ask? Well to be honest photography is one of the things that make me choose to get outside and be present all by myself. It helps me stay in a very positive, calm and curious mindset whenever I’m alone. I don’t feel isolated or alone as long as I have a camera in my hands. And that’s why I chose these three images from this first shoot.

Post processing

Whenever I’m going to do post processing of my images I ask myself:

Is this a moment captured and documented, or is this an image I made with intention?

If the answer is that this was just a moment captured and documented, then I do not make any adjustments to the image that I can’t make in Lightroom. However if it is an image that I made with intention, then I consider it my image to post process however I’d like. If that means removing something or adding something in post processing, then I’m totally fine with that. It’s a part of creating an image, not just capturing and documenting a moment.

With these images I soon found that I would want to create some modest sun rays in post to emphasize the sunlight coming through the foliage of the threes. I’m going to give you a step by step tutorial on how to do that, but first let’s look at the other adjustments I’ve made.

Lightroom adjustments

Here you have a side by side comparison of the raw image right out of camera, and the image as I had finished my adjustments in Lightroom.

You’ll see that I’ve done quite a bit of adjustments. First I have made a preset to match the colors with my style. To do this I’ve worked with both the HSL tab as well as the camera calibration settings in Lightroom. Mainly I’m taking saturation out of all colors in the image except orange. I do generally  prefer this desaturated look. If this was an image with a lot of skin tones to take into consideration, I would watch my oranges as well, to avoid looking too much like an Oompa Loompa.

Furthermore I have made the image a lot darker. This I’ve done both with adjusting the exposure of the whole image a little bit, but mostly I’ve applied several selective adjustments. I’ve used both the brush tool, the radial filter and the graduated filter. With these tools I have lowered the exposure of certain areas and brought down both the shadows and the highlights even more in the areas where I want it to be really dark.

I’ve also used the radial filter to enhance focus on the main subject of the image; me. This I’ve done by both dodging (making an area lighter) and bringing up the shadows on my face and some other parts of my jacket.

I was happy with the direction the image was taking. However I didn’t feel I was quite there yet. And so I decided to right click the image, choose edit in Photoshop and add some modest sun rays there.

Adding sun rays in Photoshop

Below you have a side by side of an image with and without the sun rays added in Photoshop. I really think it makes a difference to the mood in the image even if it’s very, very subtle, and I’ll show how I made them step by step.

  1. Make all your adjustments in Lightroom, to a point where you are happy with your image apart from missing sun rays.
  2. Right click the image in your lower bar in Lightroom and choose Edit it-> Photoshop
  3. Add a new gradient layer and choose angle instead of linear. Hit ok.
  4. Double click your gradient layer and change your gradient type to noise. Choose Color model HSB and pull your S (saturation) all the way down to zero. You will now have a grayscale layer on top of your image. Hit ok.
  5. Change your blending mode for the layer to soft light.
  6. Move the layer so that the sun rays align with the position of and direction of the sun (light source) in your image. You can change the angle of the sun rays as well in the gradient settings. That way you can try and match up the sun rays with actual hotspots/lighter spots on the ground. This will help you achieve a more natural look.
  7. Adjust the opacity of the layer for a more subtle and natural feel.

And there you go; you’ve added sun rays to your image. Well done!

Next in line

Now that you’ve gotten to see more of how I plan, shoot and post process images, I feel it’s time for you to see the final results. And you will. Next up for me is to shoot the final set of this series, hopefully this weekend. I’m also going to edit the video for this project. Part four of the series will be posting the whole series of images as well as the video, and some of my thoughts on the end result.

I hope you find this series somewhat useful or entertaining. If you do; please consider giving it a thumbs up, leave a comment down below and subscribe to my blog. I’d also be really chuffed if you would check out my Instagram or my YouTube. I’m going to be adventuring in Norway this summer as well, so there will be a lot more content coming over the next few weeks. And remember; there’s always more to explore locally!



This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.