Michael Laubscher - Madikwe, South Africa - Wild Eye

A Simple Edit Is Sometimes All You Need

Michael Laubscher Michael Leave a Comment

Earlier this week I recorded a Behind The Frame Episode on an elephant image I took in the Masai Mara earlier this year. The purpose of the episode was to stress the fact that some images do not need much Lightroom processing/editing done to them. The episode is live, if you wish to watch it, please click here.

I use software called Lightroom and so before I get started with this blog, the following is for those of you who do not know what Lightroom is;

Adobe Lightroom is a family of image organization and image manipulation software developed by Adobe Systems for Windows and macOS. It allows viewing, organizing and editing large numbers of digital images. Lightroom’s edits are also non-destructive, meaning changes made to the images are not permanent. Despite sharing its name with Adobe Photoshop, it cannot perform many Photoshop functions such as doctoring (adding, removing or altering the appearance of individual image items), rendering text or 3D objects on images, or modifying individual video frames. Lightroom is not a file manager like Adobe Bridge, and it cannot operate on files unless they are imported into its database first, and only in recognized image formats.

To put all the above into somewhat simpler form, Lightroom can assist in arranging & enhancing the look of RAW files, although not able to add unrealistic features or alter the look of the elements in the image to make it into something unrealistic.

In my opinion, I believe that Lightroom is the photographers tool, where as Photoshop (where unrealistic edits are possible) is more the graphic designers tool.

I personally process my images trying to keep the end result looking as natural as possible. The following images are to show you the exact steps I took while processing this image & that often, less is in fact more.

RAW Image of a White Rhino in Madikwe Game Reserve 

Michael Laubscher - Madikwe, South Africa - Wild Eye  A 16 x 9 Crop

Michael Laubscher - Madikwe, South Africa - Wild Eye

Notice that there is a very bright corner in the top right of the frame. I usually prefer cropping the unwanted distractions on the edges out but if I had cropped it more, it would have been a bit tight on the back end of the rhino and so I used the spot removal tool with a large feather to blend the colour/light tones a bit better.

Using Spot Removal Tool to Improve The Look of The Bright Corner

Michael Laubscher - Madikwe, South Africa - Wild Eye

Finding Pure Whites & Blacks In Basic Panel 
Michael Laubscher - Madikwe, South Africa - Wild Eye

Notice the huge change in the look of the image by only finding pure whites & blacks in the basic panel? To then pop it even more & to add some contrast I increased clarity, dehaze & dropped exposure a touch;

Increasing The Contrast

Michael Laubscher - Madikwe, South Africa - Wild Eye

All those settings had done is make the rhino a bit darker & added a bit of clarity/sharpening to the image which makes the dark rhino pop out of the fairly light background.

Applying Some Sharpening

Michael Laubscher - Madikwe, South Africa - Wild Eye

A Look At The Before & After 

Michael Laubscher - Madikwe, South Africa - Wild Eye

Final Image

Michael Laubscher - Madikwe, South Africa - Wild Eye

This was my editing process for this particular image, 6 steps total!

  1. Crop
  2. Sport Removal
  3. Find pure white & black
  4. Boost contrast (Clarity, Dehaze & Exposure)
  5. Sharpening
  6. Export

I have seen many people follow the same processing technique, using all the sliders for every image way too often. I do hope that this blog proves to you that you do not have to use all the sliders in Lightroom to enhance the look of an image. 95% of the edits in this images were performed in the basic panel & in all honesty there is no need for me to do anything else.

For example, I didn’t even touch any colour sliders in the above images, why? There is simply no need to work the orange slider when I preserved enough colour when I captured the image by underexposing by a full stop.

From now on, look at each image, ask yourself what NEEDS to be done and always remember, less is more!

Until next time;

Happy Snapping!


About the Author

Michael Laubscher


Haunted by the allure of spectacular wildlife and African sunsets. I am a hunter-gatherer of natural light and candid moments, an appetite whet with a taste of the unknown and the smell of home; “This Is Africa”! I look forward to sharing life long experiences with you and helping you capture them. Please feel free to go check out my Instagram account

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