The Dark Night (No, not Batman)

Every so often a reader comments on a post or send me an email asking what my “original RAW image” looked like before post-capture processing. Several have asked how I “enhance” my RAW images in Lightroom and Photoshop before posting them to my blog or my Flickr page. I guess the assumption is that I’m somehow “cheating” and that my final output is heavily edited before publication.

I suppose that some folks feel my Photoshop talents exceed my photographic talents. Oh, how I wish this were true. What would take one of “The Photoshop Guys” only a few moments would most likely take me hours and hours of effort. Most of my images are created IN THE CAMERA, not because of some innate talent, but because I’m just too damn lazy to learn all that stuff about layers, curves and masking. Maybe someday when I’m older (oops, too late) but right now the extent of my PS knowledge is knowing which Nik filter to apply in a pinch.

But talk is cheap so here’s an image taken in January of 2009 on a magnificent winter evening in southeast Texas. Just a simple shot taken about 45 minutes after sunset when the southern sky turns a wonderful shade of purple. No special filters and no special technique other than shooting from a tripod and using the mirror lock-up setting on my Canon 50D to eliminate as much camera shake as possible.

NO POST CAPTURE PROCESSING other than what Lightroom applies by default and a bit of cropping. No adjustment brush, no graduated filter, no custom white balance, no added vibrance, saturation or clarity. No tone curve adjustment and hue, saturation or luminance adjustments. No added sharpness, no noise reduction, no lens corrections and no post-crop vignette. In fact, I didn’t even remove the dust spots. As the saying goes “Nothing But Net”.

The Dark Night

The Dark Night – Needville, Texas
Copyright © 2009 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 50D set on aperture priority (Av) using an EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM lens tripod-mounted. The exposure was taken at 15mm, f/22 for 2/3rd of a second at ISO 100. No post capture processing was done on this image at all. Click on the image above for a larger version.

So download the HUGE VERSION (4.1 MB at 240ppi) and pixel peep to your heart’s content. You’ll find some noise in the shadows and the deep purple regions but no PS artifacts at all. And if you’re still not convinced, drop me an email and I’ll send you the .CR2 or .DNG file.

10 thoughts on “The Dark Night (No, not Batman)

  1. Jeff,

    I find that when I alter an image, I do 95% of my work in Lightroom, very occasionally going to PS for a filter of some sort. Much better if I can do nothing but be proud of the image out of the camera.

    When are you going to the Hill Country? I’ll be in Kyle (near Austin) this weekend, going to try to get away from the grandkids for a couple of parks.


    • Wes,

      I just got back from the Austin / Bastrop area and my next 4-day trip to central is March 25-28th. I’ll be in Junction, Uvalde and Bandera during that trip.


  2. That’s really an excellent image. I always try for that too and am hitting more consistently. There’s a lot of learning to do and I would rather learn how to take the shot than how to fix it.

  3. I think you’ve got folks who like to spend hours tinkering on their computer and other folks like me who’d rather spend those hours outside chasing the light…

  4. Great picture Jeff.
    And I think that it is better to spend the time and make the effort during the shooting; the post-processing should be -almost- always minimized (unless you want to achieve something specific, like ‘orton effect’ or ‘lomo effect’, or converting to monochrome…).
    That’s just my opinion, of course.+


  5. Jeff the last paragraph really made me chuckle. Nice job and I really wish I had a few PS chops as well. Been stretching the in cam thing to the point I shot and entire portrait session today ( assignment job) today in jpg. The first few looked good so I went with it and dang if the cam, lights and all came together like it is supposed to, go figure. 🙂

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