In this editing series we are going to go through a full edit of this photo provided to us by Benjamin Von Wong from his Dead Sea shoot a little while back. The original image is shown above.

Overall Vision

Ben did a wonderful job with the Dead Sea shoot and I want to make sure that the post production style that we choose, fits the overall look of the image. The goal for this image was to create a bright, slightly-faded, cool toned image where the background warmth was essentially neutralized. I wanted a high contrast image, but an overall sort of surreal “glow” to the image (and more particularly the dress). We will keep skin tones slightly more saturated so she sort of pops off the background a bit.

Final Image (After all 3 Parts)

In Part 1 of this series (this article/video) we will be doing our basic RAW editing using the Lightroom 4 Preset System and techniques learned from the Lightroom 4 A to Z Workshop on DVD. Don’t worry, we will explain our way through the entire edit for those that don’t have the Preset System. In Part 2, we are going to take the image into Photoshop for just a bit of clean up. Finally, in Part 3 we will be coming back into Lightroom 4 to finalize and polish the overall look.

Below the video is the transposed written version of this tutorial for those that don’t want to watch the video.

Watch the Video Tutorial

Written Lightroom 4 Tutorial – Dead Sea Edit Part 1

For those that don’t want to watch the video, here is the entire tutorial transcribed into written form below. We already explained the overall goal and vision of our edit, so let’s just jump right into the actual editing starting with our Basic Panel adjustments.

Step 1. Basic Adjustments

To start this off, let’s brighten the image by a stop at +1.00 Exposure. We also want to smooth out the model’s skin tones, so flatten out the base tones by bringing down both the Highlights and Whites to -30 each and also by bringing up the Shadows and Blacks to +10 each. Soften the skin tones slightly more by turning down Clarity to -10, getting a subtle glow effect on the skin. Because we flattened out the image quite a bit, boost the Contrast up to +50 to bring back some of the blacks that we lost.

Like I mentioned above, the overall feel that I’m going for is a cool-toned image. So, decrease the Temperature to 4050, which will give us nice, pure whites and some blues into the mountains in the back.

The settings we have so far:
2 Benjamin Von Wong Pt I

Next, desaturate and wash the tones out by bringing Vibrance down to -30 and applying some changes to my Tone Curves, as shown below to get us even closer to that cool-toned image.

1 Benjamin Von Wong Pt I

Because the image is slightly washed out, I’m going to sharpen the overall image with the Sharpening settings below in order to bring back some of the clarity and detail.

2 Benjamin Von Wong Pt I

Our image with all the basic adjustments applied:
2 Benjamin Von Wong Pt I

Step 2. Fine Tuning the Image With the Adjustment Brush

Now, the water and sand/salt in our foreground is a bit bright and slightly blown out, so we need to balance it out with the rest of the image. To do so, choose the Adjustment Brush tool at the top of the right panel and have the settings at -1.00 Exposure with everything else zeroed out. Brush from the horizon line down in order to darken these areas up (watch the video above to see exactly where and how we are painting in this brush effect).

5 Benjamin Von Wong Pt I

Since we darkened the dress of the model during this process, hold the ALT key (or OPTION on Mac) and brush her dress to undo what we applied onto the dress. If you happen to undo too much, leaving a slight edge glow effect around the dress, stop holding the key and darken back the edge areas of the dress to get rid of the glow.

Also, the image doesn’t seem perfectly straight, so let’s straighten it with the Crop tool just slightly.

Cropped Image Benjamin Von Wong Pt 1

Step 3. Warming Up the Model With the Adjustment Brush

At this point the model’s skin tones are slightly too cold, so we want to warm up her skin. Select the Adjustment Brush Tool with Temperature at 40, Tint at 30, and everything else zeroed. Brush her face, hair, and feet, while being careful not to brush anything else around them. If you do, hold Alt (or option for Mac) again to erase the effect out of the unwanted areas. There is no need to brush over the skin under the dress. We don’t want to color parts of the dress yellow and it shouldn’t be noticeable when we don’t.

5 Benjamin Von Wong Pt I

We can also warm up her hair more, in the areas where it’s more golden and where the sun is touching. Again select the Adjustment Brush tool with the Temperature at 7 and everything else zeroed.

7 Benjamin Von Wong Pt I

Now our image looks great at this point. Here is what we have:

We are finished with our basic RAW editing in Part 1. Now it is time to move to the Photoshop edit in Part 2 where we will clean up the image and toning just a bit. Part 2 will be coming soon!

We hope you all enjoyed this tutorial! For more information on SLR Lounge Lightroom 4 educational products and software, please read below.

Learn More About the Lightroom 4 Workshop Collection

For those interested in mastering Lightroom 4, we have developed the Lightroom 4 Workshop Collection which contains all of the education, resources and tools that one would need to operate an entire studio using Lightroom 4. This 3 DVD collection can be purchased together for $249 or separately for $99 per DVD. The Lightroom Workshop Collection is composed of the following:

Lightroom 4 A to Z Tutorials DVD – Photographers around the world have been raving about the Lightroom 4 A to Z Tutorials DVD. With nearly 14 hours of A – Z video instruction, this workshop on DVD is designed to turn anyone at any experience level into a Lightroom 4 expert. (more info)

Lightroom 4 Preset System + DVD – 218 Presets, including 186 Develop Presets, 32 Brush Presets and 30 Mixologies make up the most comprehensive, intuitive and powerful Lightroom 4 Preset System ever created. Color correction, vintage fades, black and white effects, tilt-shift effects, faux HDR, retouching, detail enhancing and virtually any other effect can be created with just a few simple clicks. (more info)

Lightroom 4 Workflow System DVD – For advanced Lightroom 4 users, the Workflow System DVD features 7 hours of HD video tutorials teaching exactly how we can cull and process images at over 1,500 images per hour using just Lightroom 4, your keyboard and mouse. The goal is to help you spend more time shooting and working on other aspects of your business and less time in front of the computer. (more info)