In this tutorial, increasingly high-profile photographer Tigz Rice covers how to correct key issues those photographing artificially low-lit indoor events – such as stage shows, theatre productions and awards ceremonies – will come across during their shoots. These include underexposure, colour spills, distracting backgrounds and noise from shooting at high ISO.
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Using Photoshop and Photoshop Lightroom, she will cover best practice for techniques such as working with Target Sliders, masking and advanced cloning – plus Shake Reduction to add sharpness to the water droplets.
Tigz has created this tutorial in Photoshop CC and Lightroom 5. Her work-flow can be followed in older versions of both Lightroom and Photoshop – but you will need to skip the Shake Reduction in steps 14 to 16.
Time to complete
30 mins - 1 hour
Import your chosen image into Lightroom, and go to the Develop Module tab.
Scroll down to the Len Corrections panel on the right and tick Enable Profile Corrections and Remove Chromatic Aberrations to remove any known lens distortion or vignetting.
Just above Lens Corrections, you’ll find Noise Reduction. Push the Luminance slider up as necessary for the amount of grain in your image.
Usually for stage and theatre, I find this is between 20 and 40.
Now pop back up to the Basic panel and correct your exposure, white balance and contrast.
Here I’ve added half a stop to my image to bring up to a better exposure.
You’ll often want to remove the effects of a light or lights that are disrupting the look you’re going for. Here I wanted to remove the purple light on the girl’s face and neck.
To do this I clicked on the target in the top left of the HSL panel. This creates an up and down arrow to draw around with your cursor.
I clicked on the purple area of the face and dragged down slowly to remove some of the colour.
For this image I’ve chosen to fully convert it to black-&-white using the option at the top of the develop panel – although you can continue to edit in colour if you wish by missing out this step.
Use the Tone Curve panel to correct contrast. Again, this has a target slider option that works in the same way as HSL in Step 5.
Now the image is correctly exposed, I needed to take it over to Photoshop to fix the background.
The simplest way to do this is to right-click on the image and choose
Edit In > Edit in Photoshop CC.
I started by correcting the extra detailing in the top left corner of the image.
Using the Marquee tool (
M), I highlighted the top right quarter of the image. I then hit Cmd/Ctrl + J to copy this area into a new layer.
Edit > Transform > Flip Horizontal to flip the artwork over and moved it to the top left corner.
I added a vector mask to this new mirrored element and, using soft brush with about 30% opacity, started to blend in the water droplets around the edges.
A great way to remove remaining unwanted details from a photo is to create a new blank layer and use a mixture of the Clone and Healing brushes.
While doing this, make sure your clone tool is set to ‘Current and Below’ and use Alt to pick a local source area for sampling – in this case so the water droplets were of a similar size and tone.
I also used the same Clone and Heal technique to work on the overall image to make the water droplets look a little less symmetrical.
Again I needed to remember to sample from a nearby area so the water droplets were the right density.
Now focus your attentions on the bottom half of the image. Create a new blank layer and use the same clone and heal technique to remove any distracting marks on the floor (such as the floor tape in this photo).
Here I needed to take care not to remove the chair and leg reflections in the process.
To enhance the image further at this point, we’ll work with the new Shake Reduction filter in Photoshop CC. Go to
Filter > Sharpen > Shake Reduction and set your target marquee over the girl’s torso.
Play around with the settings until you find the desired effect. Here are my chosen settings - I found this image worked better with Artefact Suppression turned off.
Once you’ve found your desired sharpening effect, click OK.
The image shows the photo before applying the Shake Reduction filter. Go to the next step to see what it looks like afterwards for comparison.
This is the photo with Shake Reduction applied, for comparison with the previous step.
With the background now finished, click
Cmd/Ctrl + S to save your image back to Lightroom. This will keep your edited TIFF or PSD file directly linked to your original RAW file and saved in the same location folder.
In Lightroom, go back into the Develop module and crop the image as required using the Crop tool.
It’s easier to crop and resize your image separately in Lightroom as its a non-destructive action. This way you have quicker access to amend a crop for different media usage.
Before exporting your image, go to the Library Module and add Metadata, which will increase your image’s ranking in Google. Here I’ve added keywords like Flashdance, Photography and Theatre.