Three seagulls

3 seagulls crop















One of my better ones. When cropping always come back to the question:”What do I want to make the main subject?”

Everything that doesn’t add to the main subject should be removed. The most powerful pictures are simple. Not simplistic but simple. As in… on point.

The goal is to make images that grab the viewer. In this case the scene itself is not special. Getting three seagulls resting on the railing at the same time is the object of attention.

So, does the tall building on the left add to the bird story? Nope. Does it benefit from zooming in to see the birds better? Yep.

So then my final concern was using the rule of thirds to advantage. I played around with the crop size and location. If the image lends itself, I like the square crop. Something about it makes for powerful images. Back in the days, I had a Rolliflex Twin Lens. There are legions of professional photographers who are devotes of that crop. I am starting to appreciate it more and more.

So I got the first and second bird on the rule of thirds vertical. It works does it?

Three seagulls


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Power to the people

PE bldg auto upright







View of the Philadelphia Electric Building from 30th street. Severely leading, Comcast tower tilted 20 degrees.

Used upright in auto mode to fix up nicely. Now the verticals are good but still has a sightly off perspective but in this case I like it for the uniqueness.

Gives the impression of domineering the skyline which is what I was aiming for. After all, it is a POWER company.

PE 1

















Tweaked the temperature and tint to get the sky the way I wanted.

Converted to B&W

B&W mix


Post crop vignette

Added film grain +26

Tone curve

Finish off with split-toning

PE 2















The end result. What do you think? I like how the clouds stand out and match the mood of the dominating building.

PE bldg

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White balance with an indoor and outdoor scene

When you have an indoor/outdoor scene correcting white balance can be very tricky.  Recently took this dusk shot on 2nd Street in Old City.

Lets see the before and after image:

books and music BA

First I do the normal Tone adjustments for an iPhone image: pulling the highlights back from overexposure, tweak the blacks and shadows.  Now if you look at the light in the stores the color is yellowish green. UGLY. Looks ghoulish but Halloween is over.  So I used the WB color picker to get a better starting point. I picked a color from the ceiling lamp in the music store.  Now I adjust the sliders for temp and tint to get the inside to look more normal.

books and music basic

Now for the secret sauce.  I am really enamored of the HSL controls. That stands for Hue, Saturation, Luminance.  I usually start with the Luminance slider. My goal is to lighten or darken the scene one color at a time to match the vision I have of how best to represent the scene. This is basically a process of going thru each color as slide to left or right. Some don’t seem to have any effect for a particular image so those I return to 0.

Now I am ready to modify some colors if I am not perfectly happy with the results with the Hue controls. In this image I wanted the red wall to be richer and again reduce the yellow and green tint. If you use the WB control for this it will affect the whole image so I only use that for a starting point. I ended up tweaking the blue/grey color of the bookstore to make it pop more. I don’t want to be too bright. This is a dusk scene and I want to be true to that light.  Finally, I may tweak the saturation. Finished.

That is my philosophy. I will work an image to make it more realistic not to the point of being artificial. That is why I am not a big fan of Instagram type filters: instant history in one click.

books and music HSL

The point of these lessons is to show you how you can dramatically increase the quality of your images using LightRoom, even if shooting with an iPhone.  Isn’t it time to graduate from Instagram.

Stay tuned for more lessons. Go sign up to my Newsletter to stay in the loop. 

It’s right there in the sidebar.

books and music

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What is the subject of your picture?

Clouds Times 2

cira center crop

















This time I used auto upright. It pulled in the bottom side of the image, but that was OK because I was going to crop that out anyway.

The subject here is the clouds and the reflected clouds not the traffic. Did some normal adjustments to basics.

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Manual upright correction

Shot this on Thanksgiving Day.

eagle lamp crop
















This was a tricky one.  I had shot this drastically off level. Think I was focused on getting the top of the lamp and didn’t notice.

LightRoom lets you rotate the image as much as you want. So I was just able to fix it and still get the top of the lamp.

Note to self: leave more space around central object next time.

Of course I did a lot in HSL land to optimize the color of the bird. It was quite stained but I think it looks good now.


The point of these lessons is to show you how you can dramatically increase the quality of your images using LightRoom, even if shooting with an iPhone.  Isn’t it time to graduate from Instagram.

Stay tuned for more lessons. Go ahead and sign up to my Newsletter to stay in the loop. 

It’s right there in the sidebar.

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Perpective control makes a big difference

30st station-perpective







Well if the walls leaned in this much I think the building would be unsafe.

I used the auto upright function on this one.

This was processed on the phone with Kitcam. I add a tint and the miniaturize effect. I like the way it blurred  the foreground people.

Amazing that you can process in LightRoom an image already processed by another app.

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Gradient filter used in reverse

Another dusk shot.  I did a series of shots around Chris Church, a building in Old City that predates the revolution by 80 years!

b-a christ church grad filter on bottom















The problem is obvious. I could lighten the whole image but then the sky would be blow out. Gradient filter to the rescue.

In this case I spun it around so the gradient is from top to bottom and instead of darkening the sky I am going to lighten the foreground fence.

The original image was straighten using upright/level to make the fence horizontal. Much better don’t you agree?

No way this would be any good without these fixes in LightRoom.

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Cropping for human interest

How would you crop this image?

This is my first attempt. Trying to get the most important part of the church without the distracting pole or other building.

st rita crop1

But the sky is boring and the distance make the interesting  details too small.
Lets make another attempt.

st rita crop 2

Viewer’s eyes will always be drawn immediately to people if they are present in the image.

So crop to bring out the woman sitting on the steps. Noticed I put the rule of thirds intersecting lines on her face.

Here is the final result:

St Rita of Cascia Shrine

Notice that the name of the church is now plainly visible. A little research reveals that Saint Rita of Cascia is known to be a patroness for abused wives and mourning women.
Maybe there is a reason she is sitting there?

At any rate, now there is a possibility of a story around this image.
Much better then where we started, agreed?



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