So day one, this one is taken from a cool little place called Tropical World in Leeds, UK.
Shoot: This was shot at the long end of a 400mm equiq' lens, so you can't actually tell its in a terrible glass prison full of obviously artificial poo. The lizard was near the front glass as well, which was pretty dirty, luckily there's lots of local contrasting detail in this image to hide it.
He wasn't moving much so I had plenty of time to compose. The light was also pretty bad.
This isn't the processing of a RAW file, since I'm starting long ago when I had a bridge camera, however, we can take some hindsight from this, we can progress as I did. The file is a 7.1 MP horribly compressed JPEG from a Kodak Z712IS. Lightroom is still fine with JPEG's, although the image still has the limited fidelity compared to RAW files.
As Shot - Approx 180mm, 1/60th, f/3.6, ISO 400
Original Observations: So here, in the original image, the camera's auto white balance has over-compensated and made it blue-y and murky, there's little contrast and its generally a crappy image, but the content is there, the composition is pretty good so I didn't crop, although looking back I could have filled the frame even more and took at the bit of dead space at the top.
Lightroom Processing: White Balance is set to Auto, most of the time, Lightroom is pretty good in auto or it's a good start if your camera messed it up, more on white balance when we get to RAW files since this isn' changng the balance but altering the colours. RAW is fine to change it after the fact. Looking back, there' lots of yellow going on, I'd be tempted to try make it more eve across the gamut.
Most of the other settings of the Basics panel are self explanatory, vibrance and clarity almost always make my images better. I've yet to use saturation since joining the Lightroom revolution.
The curves is where I exerted most control over the tones, the general sign of it is that of more contrast, an 'S' curve. The background and the local contrast has lots of darks as can be seen in the graph behind the curve, so the big change in this curve apart from strong contract across the board is heavy darkening the shadows, contrasting with the other settings, really brings the lizard out of the background like in the final.
A small amount of sharpening, coupled with medium amounts of noise reduction, on an image so knackered by noise it'll never be reduced, just equals sharp spotty artifacts, i did this really wrong and a large print would be ruined by this, small on a screen a 7.1 MP image get survive this. I should have taken it into Photoshop, halved the size in pixels, and used a plug-in like Noiseware on it. More on that in the future.
Finally, the vignette, at the time, I corrected the vignette of the lens, effectively creating no vignette, this was a mistake, i should have applied a strong vignette to further focus on the lizard, this image with a dark background lends itself to this. It would have also lessened the rays from the top, which I could have also lessened by using the colur controls in lightrooms to chill out the orange's only.