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Today is the 10th anniversary of Adobe Lightroom. I really dig this program, and do over 90% of my photo edits here, and rarely need to go to Photoshop to edit a photo. So, here’s a 5 minute photo transition from flat to dramatic completed in entirely in Lightroom.

I took the above photo on the Bremerton to Seattle ferry, as we approached Seattle. There was a steady rain, gray skies, and more storms on the horizon. Unfortunately, this photo doesn’t feel like that. It feels flat. Lightroom to the rescue.

I started with getting the basic tones and feel of the photo more like it felt when I took the photo. In the Basic panel, I increased exposure and contrast, and then added whites and highlights, while decreasing the blacks. This added even more contrast and punch to the image. Next, the Clarity was cranked up a lot (MORE punch) and saturation was slightly reduced.

It’s getting there, but the sky isn’t quite right. The Graduated Filter tool will help with that. Starting about a third of the way between skyline and top of photo, I drew the Graduated Filter until just above the skyline. I then reduced exposure, highlights, whites and blacks, while increasing contrast a bit and punching up clarity one more time. Now, the sky has the appropriate drama.

The finishing touch was to add a tiny bit of lavender/blue to the highlight tones in the Spot Toning panel. This gives the photo just a nudge towards the blues, and completes the transition from flat to dramatic.