Lightroom 4 Brings New Life to Old Images

A different frame of this shot took me almost a day and a half of processing in Photoshop to get something close to this. This took me 5 min. in Lightroom 4.



f/6.3, 1/320 sec, at 158mm, 100 ISO, on a Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL



This past week I have been working on a project for my wife.  I’ll have more on this at another time. While working on her website I needed several scenes from Kashmir, India. I looked through some old catalogs of images and found several that I had given up on years ago. Either the dynamic range was just too severe, it was underexposed or numerous other problems – whatever it was it made them unusable. That is, up until Lightroom 4. This 4th version of Lightroom is nothing short of amazing. The way it handles high dynamic range, the ability to pull out details in shadows and highlights will send goosebumps up your spine. Just this week, I had someone asked me if it was really worth upgrading version 4. The answer in short is, absolutely.


Even Lightroom 4 can’t bring it back details were there isn’t any. The sky behind the mosque has no details. But LR4 still made this photo usable.



f/4, 1/15 sec, at 17mm, 50 ISO, on a Canon EOS 5D



I have never used this image because I couldn’t bring back any detail in the shadows, until now.



f/4.5, 1/40 sec, at 21mm, 400 ISO, on a Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL



Frankly, I stuck this in just because I found it and have never really seen it or noticed it before.

About Matt Brandon

Matt is a Malaysia based humanitarian and travel photographer. Well known as a photographer and international workshop instructor, Matt’s images have been used by business and organizations around the globe. Matt also on the design board for Think Tank Photo, a camera bag manufacturer.

In 2013 Matt founded the On Field Media Project to train the staff of non-profits to use appropriate technology to produce timely as well as quality images.

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19 thoughts on “Lightroom 4 Brings New Life to Old Images

  1. Great images as usual.
    It would be interesting to see a before and after to appreciate better the capabilities of Lughtroom 4.
    I’ve been trying to hold on to LR as much as possible… Now you got me thinking again,,

  2. I have to agree with you Matt. LR4’s vastly improved controls for Highlights, Shadows, Whites and Blacks are nothing short of amazing. I’m still wrestling with the changes in Clarity but overall I like it. Adobe has its share of “haters” out there, especially when it comes to pricing and Photoshop but with Lightroom 4 they hit a clear home run. It’s an improvement over LR3 at a better price. What’s not to like? Jack

  3. Very helpful seeing that, Matt. I think I’ll bite the bullet and upgrade. I love the third set of images with the guy working in the dark room. LR4 really brought out his face nicely, as well as highlighting the smoke in the rays of sunlight. Nice!

  4. Very true, Matt. I had a similar experience: I have started to reprocess some of my older pictures and find that I can achieve more in Lightroom in less of the time than before. The new Shadows and Highlights commands are amazing. I also like the fact that these tools are also duplicated in the Local Adjustments section, so if you Dodge & Burn shadows or highlights even further, you need to paint with much less precision because the brushes are much more targeted. In fact, your blog post inspired me to work on a similar one…
    And as always: great pictures. I especially love the one with the wooden mosque. Would you mind sharing where that was taken?

  5. Matt,
    How does it compare to LR3 with respect to computer resource usage? For me, there was a considerable slow down when I went from 2 to 3. I had to get a new machine to run LR3. Will I need to upgrade again? I hope not, because then I would have to sell my camera, and that would sort of defeat the purpose…

    • Johnathan,

      Lightroom 4 can easily use a 18% of your systems memory resources. Adobe has never been easy on system resources. But, I’ve upgraded to 12 gigs of memory things seem to be moving okay. You can get memory extremely cheap these days and it’s a heck of a lot cheaper than a new computer.

  6. I love the way developer’s preset were re-arrange. At the same time, Im having the “not enough memory” problem exporting while exporting batch of images though..

    • Hariman, Yes, rearranging all the developers module was a great move. Setting the sliders in the middle of and going left for dark and right for lighter is much more intuitive. Everything about this new release is superior. Are you running the beta? I had exporting problems when I used the beta but not since I’ve been using the full version.

  7. Pingback: Photography: What’s real, what’s not and does it matter? | The Digital Trekker Blog

  8. Matt, what made you hold on to the images that you could not bring back the detail on previously? I love the shot of the chap “dying fabric?” but I would have probably pitched it because it was too dark or could not do anything with are making me want to hold on to all sorts of images just in case I can pull something out of them at a later date..

      • Catherine, so sorry for the delay in responding. Most of the time I only toss the really bad stuff right away. Images with super bad camera shake or too dark to see any detail might get tossed. I don’t do radical deleting, at least not in the first year or so. This image still had detail. I liked the smoke in the original shot, so I might have hoped I could still use it (though that was years ago and I really can’t recall my thoughts at the time. At the time this image was shot, I don’t think Lightroom was developed. We were all only using Photoshop 4 or something.) Honestly, I probably should do more deleting, but I keep finding images like this.

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