How to make beautiful photos


Here is the January tutorial and it is my first tutorial meant for beginners. The tool used is Lightroom 3.0 and they let you download it and use it free of cost for 1 month! Download link is here.

Here is the photo I took of a lovely sunrise during winter in Kanwa reservoir ,  Bangalore.

I shot this with Canon 1000d, 18-55 lens at 21mm, ISO400, f9.5 in 1/180 sec and with -0.5 exposure bias. Ofcourse I shot this in RAW so that I can get better tones and better postprocessing advantages. It looks dull   but there are  lots of hidden pixels which have to  come out to make that photograph better.

how it looked

After importing the RAW image go to development module.

I usually start with everything 0 under basic menu of develop module of Lightroom. When you import your RAW photo  in LR  ( from now onwards I will refer Lightroom as LR) it applies its own some basic settings. So make them 0 ( by entering numbers or dragging sliders). The basic menu should look like this.

If you observe  the pic it looks  bit underexposed so move the exposure slider to +0.3 . The pic also looks bit cold so set the whitebalance to shade. Now your basic settings menu looks like this.

Tone curves

Now we will do some changes to tone curves. Make the highlights  +70, darks to -5 and shadows to -5 and see the difference !This is how the photo looks like now.

Color enhancements

Still it doesn’t look like anywhere near what I saw on that morning. So lets enhance some colors. If you look at the picture carefully there is a little  tone of blue on top , orange in center and yellow in bottom. So I decide at this point to enhance them to see how it looks like. Enhancing the colors is totally the photographers freedom.’And it is his responsibility to make sure the viewers should not say “hey , I had been to this place, but it was not like this!”. We have to keep this in mind that one day someone will see our photograph and visit this place and they should experience and enjoy that view.  Anyway that is my opinion. You can decide what you want.

Move the vibrance slider to 8, saturation slider to 8 under presence.

Under  HSL/color/B & W   tab select Hue and move the orange slider to -70. It changes the orange hue to catchy closer to red color. Now select saturation under the same HSL/color/B & W tab and move the red and orange slider to +60.

And here is how it looks!

Graduated Filters

Now the colors are looking good but you can see some more brightness on sky. so we will add a graduated filter. Select graduated filter ( keaboard shortcut =M) and keep your exposure slider value to -1.0  and click and drag to get something like shown in the picture below.

It graduallydecreases light from top to bottom. Now we need to set the brightness and contrast to get more balance in the image. Make brightness +50 and contrast +25 under basic menu.

Still we do not see some colors on top so we will add bit more drama there.

Select graduated filter again but keep all the values 0. In the bottom  portion of the graduated filter submenu you can see color. Click on it and select the blue color. You can select the color that matches and looks better. And click and drag it again in the region of sky. Now you see the magic colors coming in the sky.

Similarly add a yellow color graduated filter from bottom to top in the water region. It will enhance the dull yellow color on the water to bright.

Now you can see a different image  on oyur screen!

Lets add some punch by adding a clarity to +30 under basic menu. Please be careful about this clarity slider. Sometime it adds great drama to the image or some times it totally screws up the image by highlighting the edges. Always zoom in full and keep checking.

Now we will  make those trees behind a little darker. Take the brush tool keep the exposure slider and paint as shown in the picture below.

Now we remove some noise becasue of the ISO 400 by moving the luminocity slider to 20. You can see the difference by zooming in full while changing .

Image is near complete. Last thing is adding the lens profile to remove distortion caused by the wideangle used. Check the “Enable Profile Corrections ” ( Lightroom 3.0 and higher only) and select the right models and lens used. If you do not have it listed check it online to download and install.

Finally this tutorial is complete. Here is the image in high resolution 1067 x 1600 for you to download or look at( click).

Sunrise at Kanwa reservoir , Ramnagar, KA, India

Final words

This is not a rule that this image has to be treated like this. This is how I saw the sunrise on that day. Human eye is amazing creation and it can see so many depths. I saw a blue sky turning in to red and then back to blue and the water and reflections turning blue to red and then blue.The dense fog which was white tuned to gold and then disappeared after sunrise.   My this little gear is still not enough advanced ( any of the gear in the world ) to capture all these in a photograph. But amazingly my brain  remembers all of this!

So  I request you to play with these wonderful features of LR  and create a image that satisfies you.

But techique is a techinque. I can give you the RAW file if you send me your email to or write your email under commenting section so that you can take this file in to lightroom and play with it and get the same result as I got.

I would be more happier if you go out in the morning see those wonderful sunrises, take some photos and use this tutorials to get one satisfying image in real quick time and add the link in the commenting section so that I can also have a look and enjoy.

Do come back tomorrow to get a full resolution January desktop calender  here.

best rgds

Dinesh Hegde


10 thoughts on “How to make beautiful photos

  1. Dinesh,
    Thanks for this tutorial. What I saw here has answered many questions I’ve had and has allowed me to understand some more of what I can do with Lightroom 3. I look very forward to your next instructions. Regards, Rob.

  2. Hey Dinni,

    The tutorial is really nice!
    The explanation can be viaualised very easily….
    Good job done!!

    I’ve downloaded LR3 now….

    Request you to send me the raw file of this pic.

  3. Thank you very much Dineshji. This is amazing. Is this possible only with Adobe LightRoom or any other software? Is LR is freely downloadable?
    Thanks & Regards,

  4. Thank you dinesh for this wonderful tutorial. i came to know many things about the light room processing. I’m eagerly waiting for the next article..


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