In the early days of my photographic adventures, my enjoyment of photography would waver. Usually, I would have a great day taking photos, trying new angles, testing new ways of seeing the same scene. Then I would get home, upload the photos onto my computer and find that they weren’t as good as I remembered. I’d try messing around in Lightroom and Photoshop, but they wouldn’t become what I wanted them to be.
So I would get discouraged, maybe put my camera down for a few days or a few weeks. I would stop enjoying photography because I hadn’t got the final photo that I wanted. With hindsight, I guess I had a goal-orientated approach. It was all about the final photo, and if I didn’t have that, then the entire process of shooting and editing was a failure.
So, I changed my perspective.
I learned not to make it about the result, but to make it about the process. I believe that I have, ironically, become a better photographer and enjoy photography more by caring less about the final result.
By getting enjoyment from the process, you do it better, you get up earlier, you go out with your camera more often, and you are not discouraged by not getting any decent photos, because getting good photos was not the point of going out. The point was simply to have fun.
I know that this all sounds pretty cheesy and lacking in any practical points that you can adopt, but there is something to be said for remaining in the moment. That way, even if you didn’t get the photo, you still saw the sunset.
How This Photo Was Made
Before & After
I suppose this photo isn’t a great one to illustrate my point since I did actually get a photo of the sunrise. You’ll just have to take my word that I enjoyed it in the moment too, despite the huge crowds that gather here at about 5.00am every morning.
Watching the sun rise over Angkor Wat in Cambodia is a pretty special experience, but it’s also a busy one. If you ever head here and want to get yourself right up to the edge of this pond, then all you have to do is set off half an hour early.
Every tuk-tuk driver in Siem Reap sets off for sunrise at about 5.00am, so pay your driver a couple of dollars extra and tell him to pick you up at 4.30am. You’ll have the place almost to yourself for about thirty minutes. I should point out that I didn’t do any of that for this photo. I got there late, lucked into a bad sunrise which made everyone else drift off, leaving me perfectly placed for when the sun popped out from behind a cloud. Win.
The processing of this photo was quite straightforward, mainly in Lightroon using the Lightroom Develop System (in the Recipes folder, select preset ‘1h Golden Hour’ for this photo’s effects.)
I first cropped the photo slightly to tighten up the composition, and used the spot removal brush to get rid of a number of the people milling about. I then gave a slight boost to contrast and clarity, and pushed Highlights and Blacks down, and Whites and Shadows up.
Within the Tone Curve point curve, I boosted red highlights slightly and reduced blues. In the HSL tab, I gave a saturation boost to the reds, oranges and yellows and added a touch of split toning to colour the sunrise more red.
All of these changes are contained within the ‘1h Golden Hour’ preset in the Recipes folder of the totally free Lightroom Develop System. Using the circular gradient filter, I added a slight blue vignette.
In Photoshop, I used saturation masks following the get colours like the pros tutorial to make colour balance and contrast changes, then I ran the pro contrast, highlights glow and shadows sharpening actions from the Photoshop Colour Control ActionPack (see the end of the Landscapes Masterclass tutorial), and increased the vignette slightly with a levels layer.