The Lightroom Develop System
In this video we are going to cover a way to add colour depth to fix flat sunsets, using only targeted white balance adjustments in Lightroom. This is one of the most powerful and simple techniques there is to process photos, very quickly and easily.
So let’s start with this photo of Stockholm taken at sunset. The camera didn’t quite capture the colours and contrast of the sunset, but we can fix that with some basic changes. First, take the main white balance slider and push it up until this area, with the sunset, gets that hot, golden colour that sunsets are supposed to have. You are not trying to make the entire photo realistic here. Only look at the colour in the sunset area, and only stop pushing up the white balance slider when the sunset looks exactly how you want it. I’ll stop here, at a white balance of 13400. It looks like we’ve gone too far, but this is where targeted white balance adjustments will come in and save the day, as we can use them to recover the blue in the rest of the sky.
Click on the graduated filter button and push the temperature all the way left, into the blue, to minus 100. Then, drag the filter over the half of the photo where you want to restore the natural sky colour. One filter will probably not be enough, so make more and layer them until you have got the sky colour exactly as you want. You might also want to change the tint and reduce the saturation, depending on the colours underneath the photo. I also usually like to make contrast and clarity adjustments, as well as changing the exposure to fix tone at the same time. If you want to make this effect even more powerful, click on the color box at the bottom of the filter panel, and select a shade of blue with a low saturation, say somewhere between 10 and 25%. If you need even more control, you can apply these same effects with the circular gradient filter and with the adjustment brush.
Once you’ve got the colours and tone exactly as you want them, it’s a good idea to save this as a preset. They are particularly useful as starting points on other photos, as the only main slider that has been changed is white balance. The remaining sliders are all now available to tweak the photo to your liking. There are a number of these white balance overlays available in the Lightroom Develop System a system of over 1000 presets and brushes for Lightroom, which you can get totally free from lapseoftheshutter.com.