How to Add Drama to a Flat Image in Under 5 Minutes

This short video tutorial shows you how to achieve a look similar to the image I posted here last week. I used Lightroom 3 to do the work, but if you shoot RAW images, you could do this in the Camera Raw plugin in Photoshop. Aperture could be used to achieve a similar look as well. Some of the things I do in the video can be done in other apps as well. iPhoto has some similar tools to edit photos and while they might not give as much control, the idea that you can easily tweak a photo to give it a dramatic push is the same. One other app to check out is Flare, an inexpensive photo editor for Mac users, which has an interesting way of letting you try edits and effects without destroying your original.

Best viewed full screen.

Any questions? Hit me in the comments.

  • CreativeProse

    Nicely done, @blurb. I didn’t know you could affect the shape of the Vignette.

    • blurb


  • SoulaStyle

    Cool! Thanks!

  • Leah

    oh that’s great. I never use that split toning so maybe now I can try that out. Thanks for the tutorial

  • MG

    I have LR3 and mess around with all that, but am in the camp of not having messed with split toning or the curve. This little push will help future projects. Thanks for sharing the knowledge :)

  • Vanessa

    Thanks, John. This is a great screencast and very encouraging, as I realized I really do know how to do all of this, I just needed a refresher. Thanks for the boost!

  • Written Dad

    This was fantastic. I’ve been trying to find the time to sit down with this since you posted it and I’m glad that I finally have. Very helpful. I haven’t done much with Lightroom but I’m loving it so far. One question: What would you have changed if there was some color in the sky? Some vibrant blue? Or a mix of blue and clouds? Would it just change the amount of adjustments you make or would the type of adjustments change overall?

    • blurb


      Hard to say about what I would have done differently. I do plan on showing some more tips in future tutorials, including dealing with sky, clouds and cloud detail.

  • Chris Thompson

    Hey Jon, just was exploring your blog and ran across this tutorial…I have messed with Lightroom in the past, but gave up on it.  This was a WONDERFUL tutorial.  Have you done more like this or do you intend to?    I’d love to see more.  Thanks!

    • blurb

      Thanks, Chris!

      If you go here:

      there are a couple of tutorials.

      I do plan to do more, so stay tuned. If you have something you’d like to see, let me know and I will see if I can work up a tutorial.