Dazzling Dahlias: Lightroom and Photoshop: Tips for Centering Crops, Image Isolation, and Color Consistency

Flowers, Lightroom, Software, Tips


Dahlia (1/800, f/5.6, ISO 100)


1. The Best Crop Guide for Centering

2. Subject Isolation Surprise in Photoshop

3. Removing Red to Make a Clean Pink in Lightroom


In 2013, for the first time I wanted to try growing dahlias, possibly at the advice of my gardener (I forget). On October 23, 2013 I ordered several different kinds of dahlias from Veseys. I got the Red Jill Pompon Dahlia; Mom’s Special; Wizard of Oz; Santa Claus Dinner Plate; Babylon Bronze Dinner Plate; and Brigitta Alida.

On Sept. 1, 2014, I photographed the ones that grew well and looked good. In 2017, I wanted to edit two or three dahlia pictures to put up for sale on FineArtAmerica.com. In my image library, I saw a pink dahlia, but its ISO was higher than I wanted, so I looked around and found an ISO 100.

(1/800, f/5.6, ISO 320)

(1/800, f/5.6, ISO 100)

The photoshoot wasn’t too serious; the dahlia had been placed in a glass. However, the background was mostly light, in high contrast with the flower’s edges, so not a likely problem to isolate. Even so, this edit had some surprises, and a few things to learn.

I used to try and do entire isolation edits in Lightroom (LR). Now I use Photoshop (PS) for the speed and flexibility it allows for tonal editing in Lightroom.

1. The Best Crop Guide for Centering

In Lightroom I used to eyeball an image when cropping to get it centered. But this time I happened to have the guide set to the busiest grid, instead of thirds, and as I cropped, I noticed it evenly spaces the outermost lines, enabling the centering process to be more accurate and faster. (Keep pressing the ‘O’ key to cycle through different grids to get this one; it’s the last one, “Grid Pattern.”)

2. Subject Isolation Surprise in Photoshop

The Wand tool selected what appeared at first to be almost everything in the background, but using the Quick Mask Mode (toggle “Q”) showed it missed a few parts on the edges. That wasn’t a surprise.

The surprise was two chunks by the lower left part of the flower background had not been selected and they weren’t visible. The Brush tool cleaned this up quickly. It seems the Quick Mask Mode check is essential to guarantee reliable quality to the final edition.

3. Removing Red to Make One Color Consistent in Lightroom

For some reason during editing, the central part of the flower looked slightly red while the rest was dark pink. The color difference didn’t help the image; some buyers might have noticed whereas others might not. In any case, the fix was simple: isolate and block the red. Color > Red > Hue -100.

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