Brightening the eyes in Lightroom 4 quickly and easily


Sometimes, after shooting portraits, when I look at the photos, I see that in some of them the persons’ iris is too dark. In that case I want to brighten it (obviously 🙂 ). To do that, in Lightroom 3 I used to choose the adjustment brush, bump up the brightness slider a little bit, and brush the eyes. This presented a problem because it would brighten up everything I “brushed”, so I had to be very accurate with the brush and the process took quite some time considering I would do it to many photos.

Luckily Lightroom 4 improved the overall processing workflow and now I can do it much faster and more efficiently. So If you have Lightroom 4 and want to brighten up a bit eyes of your models here’s a quick and easy way to do it.

1. Go to develop module in Lightroom and select the adjustment brush:

Lightroom adjustment brush tool

2. Increase the Shadows slider quite a bit, but make sure that all other sliders are zeroed out.

Lightroom adjustment brush tool settings

3. Brush over your model’s eyes quickly, not trying to make the exact selection.

4. Adjust the Shadows slider to taste 🙂

What happens is that the Shadows slider brightens (or darkens if you slide it to the left) only the darks, and usually around the area of the eye, the iris is the darkest part. The eyelashes and the pupils are completely black and Shadows slider doesn’t affect them. So if you accidentally select a small portion of the white of the eye, or the skin, they won’t be affected by this adjustment.

Here’s an example of before and after using this technique

Darker Eyes

Before (click to enlarge)

Brighter Eyes

After (click to enlarge)















I hope you will find it useful, and be sure to let me know how you go in the comments section below!

P.S. For best results I recommend shooting RAW

Learning From The Best

When I see a photo that captures my imagination, amazes me, or makes me think – I always want to know the story behind the photo – how it was made, why it was made, what was going through photographer’s mind when he created it.

Yes, I know, “photograph speaks for itself”, and for the viewer in me just looking at the photograph is enough, but the photographer in me always wants to know more.

One of the best photography web sites out there is Recently they created a new section – tutorials! In that section photographers whose photos passed the selection process, and were published, can write tutorials how they created their works of art. It is something I was dreaming of!

Each tutorial has 6 sections. Lets go over them:

1. Context – In this section photographer writes about what led him to create the photo, what went through his mind.

2. The Picture – Here photographer explains how he took the photo, why he used that specific equipment, how he chose time of day, lighting etc.

3. Processing – This part is all about post-processing: how the photo was post processed and why, what programs were used. Decisions regarding cropping of the photo are also explained here.

4. Outcome – In this section photographer talks about how he sees the final photo. Did it meet his expectations? What he could’ve done to improve it (if at all).

5. Three Hints – Here photographer basically shares his wisdom. He gives three pieces of advice to his fellow photographers. I found here many gems, which gave me a great deal of inspiration.

6. Biography / Additional info – Here photographer tells a little more about himself as much or as little as he wants. In this section photographer can also add any additional information that he feels necessary.


I think that creating the tutorial section was a great idea, and any photographer can benefit from it!

You can find it here:!/tutorials

Creative Conversion to B&W in Lightroom

From time to time we all encounter black and white (B&W) images that look very dramatic.  Many times I’ve seen B&W images that simply took my breath away, but somehow most of the times when I tried to convert some of my most beautiful images to B&W (which I thought would look great in B&W), I was disappointed. I tried to increase contrast but it didn’t help a lot. And then I discovered (by myself! 🙂 ) the way of manipulating B&W images in Lightroom to significantly improve their visual impact, and I want to share it with you here.

I mostly shoot RAW, so my images are always in color even if I shot them with BW intentions. In order to turn them into B&W in Lightroom I go to the develop module and choose B&W. But only converting to B&W most of the times doesn’t deliver good results, and image often looks dull and uninteresting. Even if you try to adjust the color version of the image (vibrance, contrast, etc.) before converting to B&W, still the B&W version lots of times won’t be satisfying.

Here’s what I do. In the develop module of Lightroom there is the following section:

When your image is in color then the “Color” is highlighted, and if you click on the “B&W” it is automatically converted to black and white, below it appears caption “Black & White Mix” and 8 sliders (from Red to Magenta).

Below you can see an example of colored photograph before I clicked on the B&W, and immediately after. As you can see the B&W image is not that good.

desert landscape in color desert landscape in BW without editing

Click on the photo to enlarge.

Now I’ll show you how the black and white version of the above image can be improved.

After I converted the above image to black and white by clicking on “B&W” button,  here is what the Black and White Mix looked like:

Each slider in the mix is responsible for a different color, but since the image is in BW, when you drag the slider, what changes is the brightness of that color in the B&W image. So for example if I want to darken the sky, I drag the blue slider to the left side. In this manner I adjust all the sliders, so that my final image looks just as I envisioned it in the first place.

Back to my example. Here is the final image after adjusting the sliders:

desert landscape in BW creative edit

Click on the photo to enlarge.

And here is how the sliders of the final image are positioned:

Blue slider is moved to the left in order to darken the sky and make the white clouds stand out.  Yellow slider is moved to the right to make the hills brighter. Some other sliders are also adjusted but not all of them. For example I didn’t change the position of the red slider, because there is almost no red tones in the image, so dragging it doesn’t change much.

Of course you can use this technique with any image and not only landscape shots.

Here is another example. I shot these green leaves with intention to later convert them to B&W for a more graphic representation.

green leafs in color

Click on the photo to enlarge.

This is what the sliders looked like before I played with them:

And this is the final version of the image just the way I imagined it in the first place. Below it you can see the final positions of the sliders.

green leafs in black and white creative edit

Click on the photo to enlarge.

Converting just to black and white is not the limit. In this final example you can see another shot of the same leaves, but with two versions of creative editing.

one more example of green leafs before bw conversion

Click on the photo to enlarge.

The first is the black and white version, but then I tried to add a sepia tint and vignetting and ended up liking this second version even more than the B&W one, but it only became possible after creating the B&W version using technique that I showed.

one more example of green leafs after creative bw conversion   one more example of green leafs after creativ bw conversion and sepia toning

Click on the photo to enlarge.

If you have your own techniques for converting to B&W you are most welcome to share them here, and
Remember, you only have to enter your name to leave a comment!

Here’s to your creativity!


How to create HDR image in Photoshop

Recently I have seen many HDR images that were too exaggerated, making them completely unrealistic and in some cases even unpleasant to watch. Programs such as Photomatix make it very easy to create HDR images but they are also tend to lead people to create very exaggerated HDR images, maybe because it is very easy to accomplish in these programs.

I have nothing against using HDR techniques in creating artistic imagery, but I would like to remind you that the original intention of the HDR was just to increase the dynamic range of the photograph.

However with a little knowledge of Photoshop, you can do that – you can create an HDR image that will look very realistic but still show all the detail that you want it to show.

I created a pretty simple tutorial that shows how to manually create HDR image in Photoshop. In this tutorial I used two photos taken at the same location (using tripod), one exposed for the bright sky and the other one exposed for the darker lower part. Though I used only two photos, you can use as many photos as you like revealing detail in any part of the scene according to your preferences.

There is one point of this tutorial that I would like to stress out one more time – use large brush with soft edges and opacity around 50 to 60 percent. It is important so that your final image won’t have these “white glow” edges that can be seen in so many HDR images.

If you are new to the whole HDR thing, you can read my previous posts on the subject: HDR – Introduction and What is Pseudo HDR image?

If this tutorial helped you to create your own HDR images I would sure like to see them! But if you don’t have Photoshop, but still want to create HDR images, you might want to try Photomatix.

Creating a Banner from initial Image

I bet that some of you had to do this: you had to create a desired size image from a photo. But you needed this new image to be a certain part of the initial photo (with a specific dimensions) but without changing the aspect ratio of the image – so it will still look natural.
Recently I had to create a head-banner for a web site of my friend. He gave me initial image and asked me to make a banner of a size 800×250 pixels from this image. It turned out to be not as simple as I thought at first, but finally I managed to do it. I want to share what I learned and so I created a tutorial.
So here we go: