Tag Archives: preset

The making of a Lightroom preset

So i have been playing around with a “hybrid high key” look that I like on certain images. I originally did it as the result of salvaging a “eh” picture but I really liked the look. So I worked out how to take my history of the image and flip it to be a preset. Not only that, but the preset works pretty on other images with some minor tweaks.

My first image was a happy accident but this one is the result of my new preset plus some extra work in photoshop to really dial it in. I applied the preset then loaded it up into CS4 to paint in some color, apply some blur with a mask so I could even out tones, fix the eyes using MCP eye doctor actions and painted in some eyelashes.

Jo - Version 2

Jo Version 2

Now I had the look I wanted, how could I save the look and use it on future images? I need to make a preset for Lightroom. So I created the preset and then I needed to test it on other images. Now the question was could I get the preset to work on a picture of a different tonal range? Here is my original image. You can see she has dark hair and darker skin than my first model.

Basic Bridal Image

Basic Bridal Image

So I apply the new preset and tweak a few things like the vignette and the exposure a touch. And this is what I came back with.

Testing the preset

Testing the preset

I’m pretty happy with the results so far. My new preset gets me within 80-85% of where I want to be with the image and I just need to fine tune the development of the image to bring it exactly to the point I want. The Photoshop edits are a topic for another blog post 🙂

Now, how did I actually make the preset? I used Lightroom 3’s history panel. I made all my adjustments and then made a snapshot of the history.

Lightroom 3 History Panel

Lightroom 3 History Panel

Once I had the snap of the history, I highlighted the new snap and I went to the preset panel and clicked on the + sign to make a new preset. It’s that simple.

Lightroom 3 snapshot dialog box

Lightroom 3 snapshot dialog box

But, you can also see that the whole process of making snapshots and presets can be a VERY powerful aid to your workflow. You can make a preset of virtually anything you can do in Lightroom and use as much or as little of the settings as you want for the preset. In my case, I unchecked a few things like lens corrections since I’m not always shooting with the same lens.

Lightroom 3 Preset Dialog Box

Lightroom 3 Preset Dialog Box

Now just what is in a preset? A preset for Lightroom is just a text file that has all the settings that Lightroom will apply to the image when you “develop” it. These changes are non-destructive which is why you have these text files. If Lightroom had been made several years ago, they would have edited the image directly which is why some of us have alot of copies of the same file scattered around because you never, ever edited the original. This way is much better! Here is the contents of a preset file. I have hightlighted in yellow a couple of setting we all know and love. Both of which I changed in my development of the preset. This file captures those changes and will apply them each time I apply the preset.

Preset File Contents

Lightroom Preset File Contents

Now I can make any image more or less the same using this preset. I dont have to try and remember how I did it or guess at the settings. I can apply it to one image or to many images at once. I can apply it at import or at a later time if I choose. As I said, presets are a very powerful tool for your workflow in Lightroom.

Posted in commercial photography, editing, editing software, highkey, lightroom, photography, technique, training Also tagged , , , , , |

Color to High Key Black and White

One of the most classic looks in photography is Black and White. It is very interesting to me how even with our fancy digital cameras and ultra clean image files, we strive for a retro, grainy old school look without color. We will use all kinds of tricks to make our clean image look like the old Tri X or illford or TMAX. We add grain (noise), we unsharpen the image, we do all kinds of things to “ruin” the digital perfection that we as photographers pay dearly for.

And why? Why do we do this thing that we do? Because we have a collective embedded memory that black and white is artistic, it’s clean and pure and it really can make you focus on the image, not the colors. I’m sure there are a lot of other reasons but those are what come to my mind as I’m writing this missive.

I remember learning photography years ago in a community college and being very disgruntled to learn that my first semester would be just black and white. I thought it was going to be a terrible semester, why did we need to learn this old crap when we had Kodachrome and E6 slide film and more. Who even WANTED black and white?

That sure changed by the end of the semester to the point that when I signed up for my second semester, I took a second semester of black and white film studies. I lived in black and white film, I lived in the dark room with it’s chemicals and red light. I pored over catalogs looking at exotic papers to print my B/W images onto. I learned how to make my own developer to tweak the film into a direction I wanted it to go. Only then did I start to explore color.

But technology marches on and B/W became a niche player with color owning the world. Then came digital and really changed things around. Color was everything, saturated was better, grain or noise was the great evil and we strived to get as clean of an image as possible and some of us thought we might have lost a piece of our soul in the process and chase.

So now I see B/W more but I see really bad conversions where the folks end up with a monochromatic middle grey image and call it “Black and White” because that is what the preset says it is. With this thought, I’m going to write up a few entries on my ideas of B/W and how I got to certain pictures that I really like. My first one is a high key look where it’s dark blacks, stark whites and very little grey. It’s also a study in how to salvage an image that otherwise was not much to look at.

So lets start with the original image, no retouching or other processing. It’s got a bit of lens flare since I was shooting a 1.4 50mm wide open against the bright white background.

Jo Original No Retouch

Original Image - No retouch

As you can see, aside from the killer body, technically speaking, the image is not very special or very strong. But lets see what we can do with it. I always start in Lightroom since that is my workflow. The very first thing I do is apply a camera profile preset which brings in the various settings to match my camera, in this case, a Nikon D300. Then I will apply a B/W conversion preset and do some basic adjustments.

BAM – FREE Camera Dojo free Lightroom preset.
WOW BnW_02 – FREE Jack Davis B/W conversion preset from his How to WOW series

Highlights +40
Darks +75
Shadows -19
sharpness -80

The sharpness has been dialed down to let me run the noise clean up, then I reapply the sharpness as needed

luminance +54
color noise +27
sharpness +40

After Lightroom Conversion

After Lightroom Conversion

Now I bring the image into Photoshop to fine tune it and to clean it up.

I first apply a curves layer with a sweeping curve that starts from the lower left corner and bows to the left and up the right hand corner. This brings out the whiteness of the skin

Now I make a duplicated layer and start to sample the image and paint it using the samples. In this case I evened out a shadow under the chine, I made the eyelashes darker, whites of the eyes brighter and so on.

After Curves

After Curves Adjustment

I then apply a blur to a duplicate of the painted image. But I apply a layer mask which hides the new blur. Then I use my Wacom to paint in the blur at something like a 20% opacity.

Jo - Final Image

Final Image after retouching

Now we have a pretty sweet and dramatic black and white image. It really shows off her eyes and the overall beauty of her face without the distraction of lens flare, color and other attributes. Print this on black and white paper or aluminum and you have killer wall art.

Posted in editing, editing software, highkey, lightroom, photography, technique, workflow Also tagged , , , , , , , , , |