Start to Finish – Matterhorn and Monorail

Happy Monday! For today’s post, I would like to take you all through my editing process for one photo from start to finish. I was lucky enough to visit Disneyland this past September to check out the 60th anniversary, and one thing I never really had a shot I was proud of was the lagoon area in Tomorrowland with the Matterhorn in the background. So, on my first night out in California, I had the tripod with me and used my 14mm lens to capture a wide, nighttime scene. This is what the original RAW file looked like:


When I first saw this in Lightroom, I liked what I saw, but it was definitely clear that it needed some work. There is a buoy two thirds of the way down the right hand side of the frame, as well as a guard rail in the bottom left corner. Interestingly enough, when I applied the Lightroom profile for the 14mm lens that I was shooting with, it took care of both of those, which was nice. Once that was taken care of, my next pain point was the color balance. When you’re in a Disney park, there are lots of lights. Those lights tend to cast a warm temperature on the image and make things look more orange than I like them to. So, I lowered the white balance a bit to cool things off.

From here, I felt like the image was pretty dark. Thankfully, with today’s sensor technology, we have some pretty serious parameters to work within when it comes to exposure. Since this was not an HDR image and comes from only one exposure, I was able to boost the exposure to +.65 in Lightroom to make it bright like I wanted it to be. Since I ended up doing that, I also had to pull the highlights down quite a bit to balance out some of the lights and the smooth silky water. Big assist to the breeze that night for helping make that happen.

Since I had upped the exposure so much, I really didn’t need to pull the shadows up too much, so from here, I basically just lowered the black level to -51 and the contrast up to +22. I like the crunchy textures on the mountain itself, so I added some clarity as well, and then moved the vibrance slider up to 24. I love the vibrance slider because it boosts the color, but not in a completely global fashion like the saturation slider does. It only applies it in places where it thinks it needs to go.

From here, I went in to the HSL tab and selected luminance, just to tone down a few of the colors that I thought were a little too strong, mainly blue, purple, and magenta. Then it was just time to sharpen the image a tiny bit, as it was pretty sharp already from being manually focused in Live View on a tripod, and we have the final image here:


It’s a pretty big change, and an edit that took really no more than about 10 minutes in Lightroom. I love the motion and energy of this area, with a monorail skirting through the image as well as the subs from the Nemo Submarine Voyage. For those curious, this shot was taken with the Sony a7 and the Rokinon 14mm F2.8 lens, both of which are available at Amazon. Thanks for reading!

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1 Comment


about 1 year ago Reply

Great port Cory! Thanks for taking the time to detail the process step by step.

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