Photo Friday: Tower of Terror

In today’s Photo Friday, I’m going to show you how I went from this:

Tower Original to this: Tower of Terror v2

My first step: using Adobe Lightroom. I know that this is an Amateur-style photo tutorial but in order to make professional looking photos I really believe in using professional software. There is a trial version available and if you want to buy the software itself and are a student or teacher, you can get discounts. Adobe is good about offering sales (Lightroom was a daily deal on Amazon just yesterday) so check around before buying.

When I import the photo, this is what I see:


The image is same on both sides because I haven’t made any changes yet. That’s about to change.


The first change I want to make is to zoom in. I don’t like how the trees and the building are distracting to the eye. To resize, choose the Crop Overlay option shown here:


The arrow is pointing to the button and I’ve highlighted the change that pops up on the screen when you select it. Recognize anything? At this point you can rotate the image, change the size, whatever makes you happy. I cropped the left and bottom edges and left everything else alone.


The Awesome Part

Now this is where the magic comes in. You’re going to use a lot of buttons and see a lot of words that probably don’t make sense to you. There barely make sense to me but I’ll try to explain when possible. Ready? Because here we go!

Basic: Under the basic section on the right, you’ll see a lot of options set to 0. We’re going to change all that. See Screenshot 4 to see what happens here.

Label Change to: What it Does:
Temperature +29 Makes the picture warmer
Tint +11 Changes green/magenta in photo
Exposure +0.14 Sets the overall brightness
Recovery 27 Fixes the highlight levels
Fill Light 53 Lightens the darks
Blacks 48 Blackens the darks
Brightness +23 Makes it brighter without going whiter
Contrast +52 Darks go darker, lights go lighter
Clarity +6 Increases the details
Vibrance +18 Makes vibrant colors more saturated
Saturation -51 Adjusts color intensity

After you do all that, jump down to the Tone Curve. These will also probably be set at 0 and you’ll see a chart with lines at 25, 50, and 75. Leave the 50 and 75 lines alone but slide the first line from 25 down to 14. Now for a few more self-explanatory changes. Decrease the highlights to -15. Decrease Lights to -55. Increase Darks to +11 and reduce shadows to -6. Then click after Point Curve where you see “Linear” selected and change it to “Strong Contrast”. You can see what these changes do in Screenshot 5.

Split Toning: Skip past the section labeled HSL/Color/B&W and move right down to Split Toning. For this section, remember that saturation works color intensity and hue affects how much color is used. Split Toning means we’ll be changing the coloring levels for highlighted sections and shadows separately. You can see what happens here in Screenshot 6.

Under Highlights change the Hue to 68 and the Saturation to 22.
Change Balance to +11.
Under Shadows change Hue to 72 and Saturation to 6.

Detail: All these changes you’ve been making can affect the quality of the picture you’re developing. To fix that, we’ll work on the details. Sharpen the Amount to 12. Too much and your photo can appear grainy. Leave the little details below that the same. Under Noise Reduction, change the color setting to 21 and leave the rest. This will reduce the graininess your photo might have taken on from all the wild color changes. See this in Screenshot 7.

Effects: Under Effects, make sure you’re in Highlight Priority under Post-Crop Vignetting. This part of the tutorial will be darkening your edges and keeping the middle nice and bright. To do this, change the Amount to -38. This sets how dark it is. Change the Midpoint to 56 to make the middle large and bright. Move Roundness to +20, Feather to 68, and Highlights to 6 to maintain balance of light and dark. Check it out in Screenshot 8.

Now all the hard work is over! Let’s save the photo.


In Lightroom, you don’t have a simple “save” setting. There are a lot of ways to save changes and files but I’m going to show you how I do it so I can publish a single photo.

I go to File –> Export first:


and then I choose the right settings (Click to Enlarge):


  • The red arrow is where you choose which folder you want to save your file to. Your pictures folder works as does a folder by date or by title.
  • The green arrow is how you want to title your photo. I often do sequential so I know how many photo edits I’ve made. You can do custom names or dates too, just look below to see the example for how it will turn out.
  • The blue arrow is where you can choose resizing options. I don’t always resize photos unless I need to make the file size smaller but when I do resize, I like to choose the long edge or the short edge options. This handy trick lets you choose the maximum or minimum pixels one size will have and it automatically adjusts the other side to keep your image proportional.
  • If you do resize, make sure to pay attention to the purple arrow and sharpen the image so you don’t lose quality. If you plan to print the photo, choose matte or glossy paper. If you are publishing it online, choose screen.
  • Finally, the pink arrow allows you to reduce metadata. This is any information that is attached to your photo when you take it or edit it. To get an idea for what metadata is, check out the metadata for my original Tower photo that Flickr uncovered when I didn’t check that box. Some is a little off (like the date) but some can tell other users about my camera and my shot. It’s up to you.

So now we’ve accomplished some great work and we’ve gone from old to new. I’ve printed out my updated photo and added it to my living room photo wall. These steps will work for a lot of photos so try your own or try it with my original file. You can watch the step-by-step breakdown in this slideshow:

Try this on your own photos and link up any of your own creations in the comments to be featured in a future post.

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I'm Julie, I love to travel, I'm very hyper and I like to "hype" things and from that, TravelHyper was born. I'm a Missouri native and I cover St. Louis travel ideas as well as my own travels. I also like to focus on places I want to visit and budget travel ideas by creating trip plans. There's so much world out there and I hope you'll find that it's worth seeing and that vacation doesn't have to be out of reach to you.

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