Puffy Clouds & Pastures

I finally updated to Lightroom 5, even though I didn’t really deem it worthy for the longest time. Who knows if there will be a Lightroom 6, or if it will maybe be called Lightroom CC, and available as a subscription only… I like my perpetual licenses. :)

Anyway, here’s an old photo from 2010. While cleaning up my archives I revisited it, and Lightroom 5 finally allowed me to make an edit that is worth showing. More on that below the photo.

Puffy clouds and pastures at Dürrnbachhorn above Winklmoosalm, Bavaria, Germany. June 2010.
Puffy clouds and pastures at Dürrnbachhorn above Winklmoosalm, Bavaria, Germany. June 2010.
From my “Monochrome Mountains” portfolio.

This is the scenic vista from the upper station of the Dürrnbachhorn cable car near Winklmoosalm in Bavaria, Germany. From here, it’s a short but steep uphill hike through low-growing, shrubby pine trees (“Latschenkiefern”) to the summit cross of Dürrnbachhorn.

I do have to say that Lightroom 5 has two features that I somewhat underestimated:

The first one is the advanced healing brush. It allowed me to remove a pole of the cable car on the very left. That’s something that I would have done in Photoshop in the past (Photoshop’s patch and heal and fill tools are among the few features that I can handle). It’s nice to be able to perform these simple fixes in Lightroom now, without the need to create a huge TIFF file.

The second, and more important one, is the refined color noise reduction feature, and most of all the “Color Smoothness” setting. I can’t stress enough just how well this works for strong black & white edits. The photo above doesn’t look like that, but I reduced the blue luminance quite a bit to make the clouds stand out more*. That always led to ugly and patchy rendition of the sky in the past, an in previous versions of Lightroom, it was simply not possible to get a smooth and clean looking rendition of more heavily manipulated color channels.

Lightroom 5 and the Color Smoothness setting opens new possibilities for black & white edits. My black & white Algodones Dunes images (where in a lot of images, the yellow and orange channels have been quite dramatically darkened in the black & white mixer, creating something like a blue filter effect as a starting point) wouldn’t have been possible without this.

*) at 12mm focal length and directly against the sun, a polarizer is completely useless – not that there would be one that could be used with Sigma’s insane 12-24mm full frame wide angle zoom lens anyway.

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