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Lightroom Music Photos

In this lesson we look at how to use Lightroom to process low light music photos which have bad lighting.

The power of Lightroom processing can be seen in the following “Before” and “After” Images:

How to Lightroom Music Photos 01
(Click the image to see full size in a new tab)

Lightroom can be used on “JPG” images, but works a lot better when used on “Raw” format images straight from the camera.

Most modern DSLR cameras have a setting in their Menu System where you can set the camera to shoot both Raw and JPG.

Raw Images are often four or five times larger than JPGs so make sure you have a 16Gig or even a 32Gig fast SD memory card installed into your camera.


If you have not ever used Adobe Lightroom, then we recommend checking out our Introductory Lightroom lesson on Sunsets at the link below:

Introduction to Using Adobe Lightroom

This Sunsets lesson takes you through all of the main Lightroom Panels and shows you the typical general processing flow.


Often photos of musicians performing will be full of red, green, or blue light and as a result look either “Radiation Red”, “Shrek Green”, or “Avatar Blue” and will basically be unusable.

How to Lightroom Music Photos 02

But if we have shot our pictures in “Raw + JPG” mode, then we can take the “Raw” format file into Adobe Lightroom and colour correct the image into a quite reasonable photo:

How to Lightroom Music Photos 03           (Click the image to see full size)


Not all photos can be fixed as well as this one, Lightroom gives the best results when the entire photo is colour cast with a single primary colour, and the photo is sharply in focus.

Here is an original “Blue” photo BEFORE being recoloured using Adobe Lightroom:

How to Lightroom Music Photos 04

And here is the same photo after adjustments in Adobe Lightroom:

How to Lightroom Music Photos 05         (Click the image to see it full size)

The key to processing for the above two photos was to start the Lightroom workflow by going to the very bottom of Lightroom “Develop” Menu, to “Camera Calibration” and then use the RGB sliders to remove the dominant colour cast in such a way that the person’s skin becomes a natural looking colour.

From there we do all of the usual Lightroom adjustments such as Exposure, White Balance, and so on.

The following video explains in detail how this is done:

The main drawback to using Lightroom and Raw Files is the time it takes to get a photo looking good, compared to just taking a JPG file and doing some basic Photoshop adjustments.

At PBP we tend to only use Lightroom on photos that have good potential, but have been either heavily colour cast with one colour, or are extremely dull and need brightening up.

If we were preparing 30 or 40 photos for a Client, it would be madness to process all of them in Lightroom, because at up to 10 or 15 minutes per photo, it would be hours and hours of work.

Instead we would use the JPGs from the camera which are much quicker to process using Photoshop.

Where Lightroom is fantastic is when you have a great photo that is colour cast, or shots of band members in near darkness, and you really want to have that photo in the album. This is where you have a good chance of using Lightroom “to save the day” and recover that poor image into a great usable image.


Detailed Video About Lightroom

The following twenty minute video about using Lightroom for Music Photos shows some great techniques for image improvement.

It is a long but excellent video to watch to gain a lot of insight into using Lightroom for Music Photos.

The 20 minute video looks at fixing an unpleasantly coloured Guitarist Photo, and as we have stated, it is a long video but shows lots of useful things that music photographers can do to images taken in bad coloured lighting.

What is particularly interesting is the “Split Toning” which is done around the 7 minute point of the Video onwards.

With “Split Toning” we can set all of the bright highlights to one colour, such as yellow, and then set all of the shadows to a blue colour, and then colour mix them.
It worked nicely on the image he was adjusting.

We have used “Split Toning” in the following Before and After Images:

How to Lightroom Music Photos 06


Continuing with items of interest in the 20 minute video……..

Around the 9:20 mark, he shows how pressing the J key sets a mode where you can see where you are going to “Clip” on adjustments and lose detail.

We can then see where the photo is going to blow out and lose detail when we increase the Exposure slider.

Leaving the J key pressed and released, we can adjust “Highlights” and “Shadows” adjustments and see marked on the image where we are going to burn out and lose some detail from the image, but if it is background blacks or black hair where this is happening it is not a worry.

He then presses the J key again to turn this mode off, and we see the image again as normal, without any clipping highlighting on it.

In addition when choosing between adjusting vibrance and saturation, using vibrance is better because it does not affect the skin tones very much.

Remember that Saturation increases the intensity of ALL colours (including skin), but Vibrance only works on increasing colours that are dull and not yet saturated.

At the 12:40 point in the video it goes through how to use the RGB “Tone Curve” where you can adjust the colours in shadows and highlights, it does nice things to the background if you set it on medium contrast and work from there.

Around the 15:00 point he shows “Sharpening” and shows how to hold down the Alt key and mover the Masking slider so that only the person appears in the white outlines, and so only the person will be sharpened.
It works really well to set the “Masking” slider first with Alt held down, to basically select what you are going to sharpen, before you sharpen it.
Otherwise you will sharpen the background and sharpen ALL the noise that is in the image.
This is a great technique, because it avoids sharpening the lights and any noise grain that is in the background of the image.

At the 17:25 point he shows how to do Selective Coloring, which looks great if you have for example a red guitar that had some red light on it.
Basically you go onto Brush, do new brush, and choose “Saturation” from the drop down list for the type of brush.
You then drop the saturation all the way down, wind the mouse (or use left and right square bracket keys) to make the brush really big, and paint over everything except the guitar, and everything will then desaturate and the guitar stay red.
But he did all of this selective colouring at the end, AFTER he had got the photo looking really good as a colour photo.

At the end, he clicked in the left hand column the plus sign on this menu called “Snapshot” and it saved all of his LR adjustments.
He had another snapshot of when he had edited it previously, and could then flick between the two saved snapshots to see how the two edits were different.

A Snapshot is a record of an image’s editing at a certain point in its processing.

Click on the “+” sign in the Snapshots Panel to create a Snapshot. After you click on the “+” sign, the New Snapshot Dialogue Box will appear. Here, name this version of the image.
We can take multiple Snapshots of the image at various points in our adjustments editing, and these edit setting versions of the image will appear in a dropdown list in the Snapshots Panel.

When we export this one image that has multiple snapshots, the only image that will be exported is whichever Snapshot was applied last. This is because the Snapshots Panel allows you to create different versions of the image, but only one of the Snapshots will be active and exported at a time.

There is a lesson about “Snapshots” and “Virtual Copies” at the link below:

Lightroom Snapshots and Virtual Copies Lesson

He also does some Spot Healing to remove small glowing amp ligt type spots, but it is not clear in the video which icon he clicked to do this, but it was actually right next to the Crop tool.
We do spot healing or clone duplication in Lightroom using the tool next to Crop in the basic menu.

The following YouTube video demonstrates Spot Healing very quickly and clearly:

YouTube Video on Lightroom Spot Healing

The long 20 minute video is by far the best Music Photos Lightroom Tutorial we have managed to find on the web thus far.

However we did find some other useful videos and these are compiled and described in the following section.


Lightroom Video Tutorials

This first video is very interesting because the starting photo is a typical small low light venue photo with an ugly white tiles ceiling.

However the ceiling background is replaced with darkness, and a light is made to shine in from the side instead.

This video shows how to use Lightroom in conjunction with Photoshop to do this.

The “burning” of the white celing into darkness is done in Photoshop, as well as the fake lighting, but the rest is done in Lightroom.

He starts doing the fake lighting using Photoshop around the 11 minute 35 seconds point of the video.


The following video is the “Removing Radiation Red” tutorial that we referred to at the start of this lesson.

In this video, horrible Red Light is removed using mainly the “Camera Calibration” function in Lightroom 3 (which still works the same way in Lightroom 5 and Lightroom CC).

It is a nice short four minute video, and the colour correction which occurs is amazing.

This technique also works well on “Shrek Green” and “Avatar Blue” images as well.

But we need to have a dominance of one colour, and a sharply focussed raw image without any bright exposure blowouts to get good results.


In this next video, it is Lightroom 5 but looks the same as Lightroom CC, and the guy processes an over exposed ISO 6400 photo of a guitarist on stage in bright white light.

Interestingly, one of the first things he does is correct for the high ISO noise, by going to the right hand side Detail panel and sharpening and Luminance noise reducing the photo.

I thought you usually do these things last in the work flow, but he does them first, which is interesting.

His finished picture is better than the starting one, but he has not done anywhere near the level of refinements we have seen in other videos.


In this next video there is a concert photo that is quite good quality already, but just a few tweaks in lightroom really make the image “pop” with warm colour and vibrance.

The actual photo editing in Lightroom starts around the 1:27 mark.


This next video uses Lightroom and then “ON1 Photo 10” which is a Plug In for Lightroom and Photoshop that costs about $110 and can be purchased here:

ON1 Photo 10 Website

Here at PBP we have not ever used it, but it looks like an enhanced Lightroom, where various additional adjustable Filters like “Sunshine” are available.

From ON1 Photo 10, we can output our files as a PSD and take them into Photoshop.

The original starting Photo is quite good to begin with, so the point of the video is to make some refinements.


Lightroom Black and Whites

Sometimes we may have a red photo that we think we can adjust into natural skin tones colour, but things just do not work out.

This was the case with the following Red JPG image, and so we used Lightroom to create a great Sepia old style brown image.

How to Lightroom Music Photos 07 (Click Image to see it Full Size )


We might have another very red photo, that we decide to make high contrast black and white, rather than colour.

Here is a RAW image that we captured. immediately followed by the high contrast Black and White that we made in Lightroom:

How to Lightroom Music Photos 08

The following video shows how to make a high contrast black and white photo very quickly, from a very average colour photo with a lot of smoke machine haze in it at the beginning.

To find out more about making Black and White images using Lightroom, check out our previous lesson at the link below:

Lightroom Black and White Photos Lesson


Gallery of Before and Afters

The following Flickr Gallery contains a set of Before and After images where we have used Lightroom to repair a previously discarded image.

In most cases the inferior quality “Before” image is labelled, and then immediately followed by the repaired image which is not labeled, but is sitting in a White Drop Shadow Photo Frame.

Gallery of Lightroom Before and After Images


Video about Music Photos

This is a bit Off Topic, but while looking for Lightroom Videos, we found this interesting video about shooting a band, changing lenses and using fish eye lens to great effect:


We hope you have found this Adobe Lightroom lesson useful and it helps you save some great music shots from the discards folder.

Just remember to shoot in Raw + JPG mode, because Raw images always respond better to treatment in Adobe Lightroom.


How to Frame Images

In this lesson we demonstrate in detail three different ways of adding frames and borders to your photos by using Adobe Photoshop.

Although we created this lesson using the Creative Cloud Photoshop CC, the steps should be exactly the same in Photoshop CS5 and CS6.

This lesson also lets you choose your prefered mode of learning, as we have both tutorial videos, and a PDF document of full written instructions.


Black Border Frames

The first of our three lessons is about adding a black frame border, and this works great on Sunset and Forest Photos.

How to Photoshop Borders and Frames 01

The following Video Tutorial shows how to do this step by step in Photoshop.

Down at the bottom right hand corner of the player, we suggest you click on the “HD” icon and choose full 1080p HD resolution if you are going to watch the video in full screen mode.

There are also full written instructions available which can be accessed by clicking the link below:

Instructions for How To Make Frames and Borders


Border Frames with Drop Shadow

In this next tutorial we show how to make multiple frames and outlines around a photo, as well as how to add a Drop Shadow effect that makes the image appear elevated up onto the page.

This creates a great feature image for uploading to social media sites such as Facebook.

How to Photoshop Borders and Frames 02

The following Video Tutorial shows how to do this step by step in Photoshop.

Down at the bottom right hand corner of the player, we suggest you click on the “HD” icon and choose full 1080p HD resolution if you are going to watch the video in full screen mode.

There are also full written instructions available which can be accessed by clicking the link below:

Instructions for How To Make Frames and Borders


Double Frame Drop Shadow

Melbourne Photographer “Ian Peter Smith” uses this type of frame a lot on the Photos he posts to Facebook and it is extremely effective.

It was from his images that we got the idea of creating one of these types of frames in Photoshop.

How to Photoshop Borders and Frames 03

It is actually a double frame, as there is a White Frame around the outside to stop Facebook “edge cramming” it on Mobile screens.

How to Photoshop Borders and Frames 04

The following Video Tutorial shows how to do this step by step in Photoshop.

Down at the bottom right hand corner of the player, we suggest you click on the “HD” icon and choose full 1080p HD resolution if you are going to watch the video in full screen mode.

There are also full written instructions available which can be accessed by clicking the link below:

Instructions for How To Make Frames and Borders


We hope you find these Photo Framing techniques useful for making your feature images look their very best on Websites and Social Media.


Lightroom Jazz

In this Lesson we show how to make high contrast black and white images by processing raw format camera images using Adobe Lightroom.

If you have not used Adobe Lightroom at all, then before doing this lesson on Black and White Images, you need to go through our introduction to Lightroom lesson.

The context for this previous lesson is using Lightroom for Sunset Photos, but it will show you the basic functions of Lightroom, and the workflow.

How to Lightroom Sunsets


Recently we went along to take photos at a Jazz Club, but the lighting was very low, and extremely red in tone.

So we shot in Raw + JPG mode, using a Sony A77 MkII at ISO 1250, and very slow speeds of 1/30th to 1/50th, which meant we had to hold the camera very steady.

Fortunately the Sony A77 has great inbuilt image stabilisation.

We also used an F1.8 35mm Sony Lens, so that we could get nice background blurring, and let in as much light as possible.


Before and After Images

The resulting images were not great quality, but we used Adobe Lightroom to convert the Raw files into high contrast black and whites and got quite reasonable results.

Here are a series of Before and After Images.

Lightroom Black and White Photos 01


Lightroom Black and White Photos 02


Lightroom Black and White Photos 03


Lightroom Workflow

Our objective was to make high contrast black and white images, and so during Lightroom adjustments we were looking to increase contrast, as well as increasing the blacks in our image.

We also worked on the Whites, as well as the Blue and Green parts of the Black and White Adjustment to make the background strings of “fairy lights” really stand out as very white overexposed bright round items.

The exact workflow we used was similar to the ten steps we used for processing sunset photos.

The basic workflow we used to make our Black and Whites is as follows:

1) White Balance – just usually give it a slight Temperature Change to the left to reduce the red warmth from the red lights.

2) Adjust Highlights and Shadows – Highlights generally down, and shadows generally to the right.

3) Clarity up to around 40% as a maximum, which adjusts midtones, and adds a sharpness type effect to the image

4) Whites and Blacks – Hold down Alt, and the whites screen goes black, then we add whites until only the first set of highlights (the background fairy lights) show through.

Also hold down Alt to adjust the blacks on its all white screen, and go quite strong to the left on these.

5) Saturation and Vibrance – Saturation does all the colours, Vibrance only adjusts the colours that are not already saturated.
Since we are doing Black and White images, adjusting these is irrelevant.

6) The HSL “B&W” Adjustments

On the HSL panel, there is a B&W option to the far right which we click to make our photo black and white.

We then use the colour sliders that are there to adjust the various shades of grey in the photo, always aiming for high contrast with the blacks very black.

7) Detail Panel for doing Sharpening and Noise Reduction. Here we sharpened our images.

8) Paintbrush Tool – we did not use this at all on any of the images.

9) Filters – the vertical rectangle symbol between crop and paintbrush on the top row of the right hand column.
We can move the filter up and down, change its width, and tilt it using the middle line in it.

We used both rectangular and spherical filters to brighten up instruments and faces on some images.

10) Effects Adjustments – A large Black vignette, moving the slider a considerable distance to the left worked really well on these photos.
We also made sure the feathering on the vignette was set between 50 and 100.

There you have it, the ten steps for making a Black and White image using Lightroom.


Gallery of Jazz Photos

A Flickr Gallery of our Black and White Jazz Photos can be viewed by clicking the link below.

Note that the last three images were made Black and White from JPGs using Adobe Photoshop, just to prove that Lightroom and Raw gave better results.

The other images are all Raw format images that have been processed using Adobe Lightroom CC.

There are only 14 images in total (from about 170 photos that we took on the night) because it was so hard to get crisp images shooting at below 1/50th of a second.

Flickr Gallery of Black and White Jazz Photos


Lightroom How To Videos

The following three videos show extra workflow steps to make some really dramatic and beautiful black and white images.

The first video shows how to create very dramatic Black and White Image.


This next video shows how to make a dark B&W photo, as well as a very high dynamic bright B&W photo, both from the exact same raw image.


This video shows how to make very grungey B&W portrait photos, which could work really well with Jazz photo close ups.


Jazz Music Video

We also made a short video of the Jazz using a Lumix LX100 Pocket Camera.

Due to the “radiation red” low light conditions, the Lumix shot at a very high ISO level, so the image quality is not as good as we would have liked.

We tried making the video Black and White in Adobe Premiere, however the movie was far too grey and white.

We need to learn how to make good high contrast Black and White Movies, so there’s a great idea for a future PBP “How To” lesson.


Selective Coloring

For people interested in the Technical side of Photography, here is the latest of our “How To” articles which is all about How To Do Selective Coloring Using Photoshop.

In this article we show you how can make a color photo into Black and White, and then select colors from the Original Photo to show through into the picture.


At Photos By Passy, we love using Photoshop Selective Coloring for Car Photos.

Here are some “Before and After” Examples of Selective Coloring.

Photos by Passy How To Do Selective Color 01


Photos by Passy How To Do Selective Color 02


Photos by Passy How To Do Selective Color 03


Photos by Passy How To Do Selective Color 04


Selective Coloring Methods

There are two methods for doing Selective Coloring:

Method 1- Make a Duplicate Layer and Selectively Desaturate the Photo

Method 2- Make a Black and White Adjustment Layer and then Paint a Mask onto it.

We have found that the second method is the much better way of doing this.

The following six minute YouTube Video goes through the steps of doing Selective Coloring in Photoshop.


Summary of Selective Coloring

Basically we mask out a Black and White Version of our image, and then paint it to allow color to show through.

– Make a Black and White Adjustment layer and use the sliders to make it look nice

– Set the brushes panel to a soft round brush where pressure affects the opacity

– Set the foreground color square to black and background color as white

– Paint with this black brush on the B&W mask layer to reveal color

– Because it is a “Pressure Brush”, with a mouse the more you stop and go back over it, the more color shows through

– If you make a mistake, simply change the brush foreground color to white, and paint back over the problem area to fill in the mask hole and put it back to B&W


Adding a Vignette

As well as Color Selection on our car pictures we also added an Oval Darkening “Vignette” around the outside to finish off.

This is very easy in Photoshop and simply involves being on the layer witth the original picture (not the B&W mask) and doing:

Filter > Lens Correction and then pick the “Custom” tab and use the Vignette Sliders.

The following video shows how to do this, as well as another method involing the Oval Marquee tool and Inverse Selecting.

(Note that the Filter > Lens Correction Method is shown in the second half of the video)


Selective Colouring Photo Album

Our Photoshop Students at the High School Day Job have done some very creative work with Selective Colouring using images from Google Images.

Use the link below to view a Photo Album of their work.
Some of them used Selective De-Coloring to make existing highlights stronger, and others used pattern based selective coloring.

(I actually learned some new ideas about Selective Colouring by watching what they were doing. Together we all do better!)

Click Here to View Photo Album


That’s it for this Photoshop Tutorial.

Use your own photos, or find some in Google Images, and play around with Selective Coloring in Photoshop.


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