Photoshopping Sunrays with Curves

Sometimes you only get a fleeting second of light and you’ll have to grab what you can with the camera you having your hands.

The story behind this photo is that we were walking to a limestone pavement to capture photos of trees growing out of rocks when one of the clouds opened and let the sun shine through for what was only a few fleeting seconds. This is the image I grabbed.

Luckily I did have a 2 stop neutral density grand filter on the camera so could protect the highlights to some extent but as you will see in this video the foreground is pretty much black and the sky is almost burnt out.

In this full length tutorial I take you through the steps to rescue something from this grab shot, starting from the raw file in Adobe Lightroom and working 2-in Photoshop with luminosity masks and curves layers to lighten the darks and enhance contrast.

Modern Property Photography

Like many people I have used HDR or purely ambient light for property photography for years, when time permitted I would use a a flash or 2 to add some light to the rooms but the results were always a little bit garish, bright and weird shadows would get in the way.

Flash and Ambient light combined

This relatively novel technique is where are you capture all the ambient shots you would normally get for an HDR and also so use some very powerful bounced flash light to 2 to create that flash image of the room as well.

I would recommend you do as many flashes as as you see fit whilst travelling around the room because the more you have to play with in Photoshop later the better the results can be