What do you do when you have grey skies?

Why the best thing to do with grey skies is too look at photos of better skies! No not really. That was just good timing. But in all honesty when it comes to days that have nothing to offer but grey skies and boring flat clouds, then either you become really creative with a subject and flash or you find another project to work on. If there is one thing that i have learned is that there is always something else to work on. How relevant it is to that moment in your career maybe hard to understand but as long as you keep working on something then you’re probably moving forward as opposed to go nowhere. Grey skies then become a blessing. While inspirationally they are exhaustive, having a reason to stay home and get caught up is never a bad thing.

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One Little Brush with Big Results

If you ever listened to me teach or read much on the blog then you know that I do use Adobe Camera Raw as the mainstay for my finishing work. For me it’s the fastest process for my workflow and that’s what matters the most. Keep in mind that Lightroom CC has the same controls and abilities as ACR just a different layout. That being said one of the areas that I like the most in ACR is the Adjustment Brush. The name pretty much says it all as you can literally adjust any part that of the image and then brush it in. With all of my images I want the viewers eye to move through the photograph the way I want it to and in order to do that sometimes small adjustments can be made. At the same time, you can make really big adjustments to tell a whole new story. This technique I call ACR Light Painting.


Shooting sunset at my friends ranch was a prefect opportunity to work with this technique as there was a number of great landscape opportunities some of which you had to look for. As we all know shooting into the sun often results in backlit images and thus requires a little extra help to finish. When you have great god beams it’s hard to pass up the opportunity.

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As you can see the foreground really needed some help to mirror the skies above and all it took was a few passes with the adjustment brush.

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One of the great things about the tool is you can make several pins so that you aren’t limited to just the one brush over. What I like to do is bring up the areas that I wanted highlighted first and then go over the other areas bringing exposure down. Then come back over the highlighted areas just a bit so that way it looks like the brightest spot is on top which is how the light should be. Simple adjustments with the exposure to draw your eye in and hide the areas that aren’t important can make all the difference.

New Techniques For Old Images

One question that I’m always plagued with is, is it worth going back over older images and refinishing them? As programs become more advanced it becomes easier and easier to finish those favorite photographs that we all take. However, is it worth the time to do so? I truly don’t know the answer but I have discovered one truth. As I look over my older images I notice some that I did a good job with and some a bad job with. The ones that I didn’t do as good a job with I don’t use for anything they just sit on the hardrive. Therefore it makes more sense to take a look at those images that aren’t so popular and there is a very handy tool to help with that.


If you already have an image that you want to rework then you can either keep going where you left off or find the original image and start from the beginning. Lets say you want to keep going from where you left off, well now you can apply Adobe Camera Raw as a filter so you can make those subtle changes. This TP-40 is a great example because not only is it a rare plane but I ended up going through several steps that made for one large file. That’s one of the big benefits of going through ACR.

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Here is the image after deleting the other layers and just applying the Camera Raw Filter. There is a subtle difference to the image, mostly with the highlights, and that was one area that I really wanted to change because it was too much. The other big difference you can’t see but the file size has been cut in half which is important later on down the road when that hardrive starts to fill up. Now when it comes to that question of reprocessing I still don’t have a great answer but in the end I think it comes down to whether the image in question is one that you use a lot and thus has already been seen or if it’s one that you don’t use and you have to ask yourself why that it is.

Processing Quickly

Over the last week I have been very busy getting images finished for a client and they are really starting to pile up. I’ve already done 1700 images and there’s still more to do but thankfully with the help of Adobe Camera Raw there are some time saving techniques that I thought others might enjoy.

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The first thing that really helps is having your favorite settings already saved. I’ve multiple profiles setup based on that different camera profiles I shoot in and the subject matter for which I shoot I in. By simply saving those settings, such as clarity, vibrance, sharpening, noise reduction, in each of those profiles I don’t have to go back and redo them.

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The next thing if you notice to the left of the screen is that I open multiple images in ACR. Usually I do about 20 at a time. By clicking on the ones I want or that are of similar content I can alter sync all the settings at once. The other nice thing about selecting multiple images at once, is that I can make adjustments to just one image and ACR will make those same changes to every other image selected at the same time. So there are multiple ways to do lots of changes to lots of images while inside ACR.

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One of the really nice things about the sync option is that if you only want to sync one setting, you can click on the check none box and then click on the setting you want to change. On more then one occasion what has happened to me is after working on a set of images I’ve noticed a dust spot that I didn’t previously so by just checking spot removal, that one spot would be gone without changing anything else. There are a lot of ways that you can speed up your worklow and this is just one of them.

Adobe Camera Raw 8.8

Yesterday Adobe released Camera Raw 8.8. If you’ve been following my blog then you know how much of a fan I am of ACR and how much time it saves in my post finishing process. If you haven’t used it before I suggest you give it a try. If you’re already using it then you already know. Here is the link to the page to see all the improvements added with the new version. At the bottom is a link to download the newest version or if you’re using Adobe CC then just open up Creative Cloud and update Photoshop or Photoshop CC. Remember when you go into ACR to check your settings.

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