Sometimes you can’t always get into a perfect position to get the shot you want, and in those cases, it’s helpful to have a high resolution camera with a lot of megapixels so you can adjust it in post.
The image we’ll be working on within was from the Long Beach Indy, shot from the press window against the fence. It was shot on a Sony A7R with a Zeiss 24-70mm F/4 ZA OSS at 1/1000, f4, ISO125. The file is about 40 megapixels – a high resolution RAW file. We are going to crop this image to see how far we can push a crop on a high resolution camera and how to edit it to bring out the details.
In this edit, I want to go for a high contrast, HDR look that pops and really brings out the energy in this scene. To do so, start with the cropping tool and drop it to a 2-to-1 crop. Pull on the corner while holding down the shift key to constrain the edges while cropping. I am cropping in tightly so the focus is on the yellow DHL car. You can see that even with the extremely close crop, there is still incredible detail in the image; a 15-18 megapixel file after the crop.
Editing the Image
Start with pulling down the Highlight slider and pulling up the Shadow slider to about 60. To save the black detail, we will pull down the Black slider. To get that HDR kind of look and get the high energy feel, we will boost the Clarity, adjust the tone curve, and add in a lot of contrast. Here’s how our settings look so far:
Now, adjust the midtones by pulling them up a little and then darken the Exposure because we have a good amount of detail present.
[Note: You can check your shadow and highlight clipping by pressing ‘J’]
To get some real shadows in the image, we will deepen the Shadow just a little bit, and add a bit of pure highlights by adjusting the Whites and then deepening the exposure more.
This is starting to look like a high-energy, awesome edit.
Now, adjust the White Balance by clicking around on different white objects in the scene to get an approximation; we are looking to make the image more on the warmer side (around 5650 kelvin), and then add in a bit of Split Toning.
Reduce Saturation by taking down a little red and orange but keeping the yellow so that the car will pop. Then reduce the other tones a bit.
Then we will add in a bit of split toning to get a little more yellow hue over the image and bring it up to 50 so we have more richness with some orange in it.
Since it’s such an extreme crop, we are going to do a lot of sharpening to the image. Increase the sharpening to 130, masking up significantly. Take the radius up a good amount, add some noise reduction to compensate. The noise reduction and masking will soften up the fine detail.
[Note: To check Adjustment Strength: alt+click+drag or option+click+drag]
To add in a a sunlit tone, go to the Saturation slider and in Highlight Toning, adjust to +15; bring in a little shadow toning at around Hue to 30, Saturation to 5.
At this point, it is a great time to use Dehaze because we are shooting a bit far back and then zooming in across the group which can down contrast; the Dehaze will cut through that, and add a bit of extra contrast to cut away some of the haze in the image.
To pull more attention into the center, use radial and bring the exposure to about -0.3 to get an almost natural darkening effect, then use a graduated filter.
We now have a warm, rich image; a great high energy shot with a lot of clarity in it. You can press L to turn out the lights and backslash (\) to see the dramatic before and after; our new image has a very cinematic tone to it.
This tutorial shows that high resolution and high megapixels do play a very significant role in how much detail is captured and how much you are able to crop. Hopefully, you see that with these high megapixel cameras, you can work with crops that were originally very wide because you couldn’t get the right shot in the right place for whatever reason, and still get a fantastic image; resolution helps you get there.
For more tips and tricks to take your images from ordinary to extraordinary in Lightroom check out our Advanced Lightroom Processing Workshop. Gain access to this workshop and so much more by purchasing a Premium Subscription to SLR Lounge!