A few weeks ago, during one of my trips to Redlands, I went on an after-work photo excursion to San Timoteo Canyon Nature Preserve. The goal was to shoot some photos in the golden hour light, but conditions conspired against us. It was dark and overcast- completely flat light with a blown-out, featureless sky. I knew I would have to get creative, so I screwed a 500D close-up lens onto my G12 and went to work. This is my first set of results from that day.

Tree Rings

The out-of-camera image here was pretty bland. I brought this one into Silver Efex Pro (my favorite plug-in for Lightroom). This is a black-and-white conversion program. I used the “Negative” preset, which basically reduced brightness, and cranked up contrast and structure. I then burned out the edges and gave it a slightly warmer tone.


I liked the idea of this one. The problem is that I didn’t have enough depth of field, and many of the thorn branches were out of focus. So I tried to take advantage of that and make an “Instagramy” picture. The square crop was to get rid of some ugly bright areas left of the image. The other things I did is boosted clarity up to +75 to give it that graininess, and cranked up vibrance to +65 to bring out the green. Finally, I darkened the edges with a Post-crop Vignette (Highlight priority, -24)


This is probably the blandest of the three. I certainly wouldn’t hang it on my wall. I’d consider it for desktop wallpaper- I like non-distracting black and white backgrounds on most of my monitors when I’m trying to work. Again, I used Silver Efex Pro, increasing the contrast and structure, and burning the edges.

I don’t usually manipulate my photos so much in Lightroom. In this case, I shot in-camera with the idea that I was making abstracts. That freed me up a bit more to “go nuts” in the digital darkroom.

Next up… sunflowers.

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