From Underexposed to Extraordinary: Saving a Photo in Lightroom

Capturing the perfect shot often involves meticulous planning, patience, and a bit of luck. Landscape photographers, especially those who chase specific celestial events or fleeting light conditions, understand this challenge all too well. Even with the best preparation, unforeseen circumstances like weather or equipment limitations can threaten to derail an entire shoot. 

Coming to you from Mark Duffy, this insightful video explores a real-world scenario where a planned moonrise photo shoot almost went awry due to camera shake and underexposure. Duffy, an Irish commercial photographer with a background in graphic design, walks you through the challenges he faced and the steps he took in Lightroom to salvage the image. 

Duffy explains how camera shake from a slow shutter speed, necessary for the low-light conditions, rendered his initial exposures unusable. He had to rely on an underexposed image, which required significant adjustments to bring out shadow detail and reduce noise. The video meticulously details Duffy's editing process, demonstrating how he uses Lightroom's tools to adjust exposure, white balance, color grading, noise reduction, and local adjustments to achieve a final image that is both visually appealing and technically sound. 

The video serves as a valuable lesson in the power of post-processing and the importance of understanding your camera's limitations. Duffy emphasizes the role of a camera's dynamic range, particularly in challenging lighting situations, and how bracketing exposures can provide flexibility in post-processing. While the final image may not be exactly as Duffy initially envisioned, his ability to adapt and utilize Lightroom's capabilities saved the shoot and resulted in a stunning photograph. Check out the video above for the full rundown from Duffy.

And if you really want to dive into landscape photography, check out our latest tutorial, "Photographing the World: Japan With Elia Locardi!" 

Alex Cooke's picture

Alex Cooke is a Cleveland-based portrait, events, and landscape photographer. He holds an M.S. in Applied Mathematics and a doctorate in Music Composition. He is also an avid equestrian.

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If you have to push in post, it helps to use an ISO-invariant camera. Also, this does not require Lightroom. DxO’s PhotoLab does a great job, as well. In fact, I routinely underexpose by -1 or -2 EV and push in post. PhotoLab’s simpler noise reduction workflow makes this easy, even when batch-processing hundreds of RAWs.

Oh boy! Really?