Mastering Lightroom: How to Manage Presets

One-Click Processing

One of the biggest advantages Lightroom offers over some other RAW converters, such as Camera RAW found in Adobe Photoshop environment, is speed and flexibility while working with tens, hundreds and even thousands of photographs at a time. However, it wouldn’t be quite as fast if we didn’t have a way of applying a set of our own settings to any amount of images we choose with a single click. For this, Photoshop offers us Actions and Batch processing. Lightroom, in turn, gives us Presets.

In this tutorial, I will show you how to manage an ever-increasing amount of presets. You will learn how to save new presets and remove those you don’t need anymore, how to export, import and organize them into different folders for simpler browsing. You will also learn how to update existing presets with new settings and how to remove certain settings so that they are not affected by presets.

1) What Are Presets and Why Would One Use Them?

Changing settings in Lightroom is very easy and intuitive. Adobe designed it with a very thought-out, photographer oriented workflow, suitable for most professionals and amateurs alike, and it offers an uncluttered, none-distracting interface. However, with such a huge amount of settings available (and, as a consequence, an immense amount of different looks you can achieve to your photographs), it would be very hard to memorize your favorite setups so that you could use them again and again. That is what we have presets for. Basically, presets are files that contain specific setting information you applied to a photograph. You can save a preset that will set the Temperature of the photograph you have selected to, say, 7300K degrees, or adjust Exposure to +1,15. While these would be very basic presets containing only one adjustment, you can save a preset that will change Temperature, Highlights, Blacks, Vibrance, Tone Curve, Color Luminance and add Vignetting and Grain to your image. This way, you can achieve a particular look with just one mouse click, and save lots of time you could then spend with your family or photographing.

One-Click Processing

Without presets, it’s impossible to experience all Lightroom has to offer, so it’s vital you learn how to use and manage them.
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Maximizing Dynamic Range

Doris-Final

The more time I spend in my photography pursuits, the more I appreciate cameras that capture and photos that exploit their maximum dynamic range potential. Digital cameras have undergone dramatic improvements over the last 12+ years, but they still don’t come close to the human eye’s dynamic range capabilities. By some estimates, the human eye can distinguish up to 24 f-stops of dynamic range. Higher end DSLRs such as the Nikon D800 by comparison, can capture up to a theoretical max of 14.4 f-stops of dynamic range. The usable dynamic range of most DSLRs, however, is closer to 5-9 f-stops, considering the impact of noise, which can render some of the DSLRs’ f-stop range impractical to exploit. Thus your eyes – at least for now – are still far more capable than the best DSLR relative to recognizing various tonal gradations. As I will demonstrate via my new model, “Doris” (shown below) of the Pittsburgh Zoo, even photos taken with high quality DSLRs sometimes need a bit of extra processing to match what your eyes can see. The photo below is the result of a processing technique I often employ to boost dynamic range when it is apparent that my camera’s sensor failed to capture what I remember seeing.

Doris-Final

1) Good Dynamic Range Starts With A Good Camera

The first step in maximizing dynamic range is to have a camera that scores high in this category. DXO Mark can provide a good understanding of how DSLRs stack up against each other in this regard. The results from the D800 dynamic range testing have been amazing, clearly showing that it has the capacity to pull significant shadow detail while still keeping noise levels relatively low. If and when I actually get my hands on a D800, I will be able to determine this for myself! For this tutorial, I used my trusty Nikon D7000, which despite its modest price, has a very good dynamic range score.

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Mastering Lightroom: How to Use the Tone Curve Panel

Tone Curve Tool - After

In this short tutorial I will show you how to use one of the easiest and most powerful tools found in Lightroom – the Tone Curve. In my previous tutorial about black & white conversions, I briefly showed you how to use the HSL Panel’s Luminance section to control the lightness of separate colors of the image. Using the Tone Curve Panel is very similar as it also allows you to control the lightness and darkness of various parts of a given photograph, however, rather than altering separate colors, the Tone Curve tool controls certain ranges of actual tones in the image.

What Is It?

Tone Curve Explained

The Tone Curve represents all the tones of your image. The bottom axis of the Tone Curve is the Tone axis: the line starts with Shadows at the left-most end and ends with Highlights in the right-most end. In the middle you have Midtones, which are then further split into darker Midtones, called Darks in Lightroom, and brighter Midtones, called Lights. In other words, going left to right, the curve starts with Shadows, Darks, Lights and ends with Highlights. You can also see the corresponding range shown to you by Lightroom once you hover over a specific slider under the Tone Curve, in the Region section of the Panel. The Y axis represents lightness of a given tones. The tones get darker as you move lower and brighter as you move up the axis.

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Mastering Lightroom: Branding and Customization

How Does it Look - Graphical

Lightroom is an amazing program with a myriad of great features to improve the look of your photographs. In addition to all the image editing and cataloging tools, Lightroom also has some cool built-in features to make it a little more personal. In this short tutorial, I will show you how to brand and customize your favorite RAW converter. A little :)

1) Identity Plate

You can brand your copy of Lightroom for your photography business by inserting your logo to the top left corner of the software through the “Identity Plate” setup. You can get to the “Identity Plate Setup” by clicking on Edit -> Identity Plate Editor. Make sure to check the “Enable Identity Plate” checkbox, otherwise you will see the default Lightroom logo at the top left of the window. In the editor, you can either use a stylized text Identity Plate, or a graphical Identity Plate.

How Does It Look - Text Stylized text Identity Plate allows you to input any text you want to show at the left side of your Modules Panel. Use the drop-down menus to set the font, style, size and color of any text (or a part of it). Using text makes it very easy and quick to change the Identity Plate at any time.

How Does it Look - Graphical Using Graphical Identity Plate allows for more flexibility – you can turn any image into an Identity Plate. Using PNG instead of JPEG format offers transparency, which, again, helps you make your logo blend in better with the graphical interface of Lightroom. One thing you need to be aware of is the height of the image you want to use – keep it at about 50-60 px, otherwise Lightroom will not fit it in the narrow Modules Panel.

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Mastering Lightroom: How to Use the Basic Panel

White Balance Settings Comparison

Lightroom has many features that can easily confuse those who are new to it. While the program offers plenty of different editing opportunities, in order to achieve the best results and user experience, it is important to understand the very basics of Lightroom. In the series of upcoming short articles, I will try to explain each of the most important Panels in Lightroom, so that in the end, you will find it to be a simple, quick and easy to use software for your post-processing needs. Lets start with the Basic Panel.

Where to Find It

Lightroom Panel List

The Basic Panel can be found in the Develop Module right bellow the Histogram display at the top-right side of the screen. Expanding the panel will reveal a number of basic controls offered by Lightroom. These controls show you the most obvious benefits of shooting in RAW, such as White Balance and Exposure Compensation adjustments. Lightroom was developed with a left to right, top to bottom editing workflow in mind. While in some cases you will find yourself going back and forth between the settings, we will try to stick with that order at this time.

Tip – if you left-click the top of any Panel while holding down the Alt key (for Windows users) or the Option key (for Mac OS users), Lightroom will go into Solo Panel mode and only keep one Panel open at a given time (for example, if you had Tone Curve Panel open and then click on Detail Panel, the Tone Curve Panel will then close). This allows for a more tidy experience, especially if you often find yourself scrolling through the right-side Panel List. Clicking it again the same way will return Lightroom to previous state. If you want to open another panel without closing the previous one in Solo mode, Shift-click it. Ctrl(Command)-click a panel to open/close all.

The Settings

1) Treatment

The very first setting you can change in the Basic Panel is the Treatment of the image. You have two settings – “Color”, which is set by default and keeps your image in color, and “Black & White”, which, as I have mentioned in my B&W Portrait tutorial, is a great way to start working on a B&W look of your image if that is your intent.

2) White Balance

Sometimes the Auto WB setting on your camera may pick the wrong value, or you might choose a wrong one yourself. These settings are there to make sure that the color captured in your image is correct no matter how the camera was set when you took the picture, so if the image is too blue or too orange, you can easily correct it.

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Lightroom 4 Review

Lightroom 4 vs Lightroom 3

Adobe has finally released the latest and greatest Lightroom 4, which packs plenty of new features. What are those new features and how does Lightroom 4 stack up against the older version? If you are wondering whether it is worth upgrading or not, then this Ligthroom 4 vs Lightroom 3 Review is for you. I will go over the new features of Lightroom 4, their practical use and the potential advantages of using those tools for your personal work or business.

Lightroom 4 vs Lightroom 3

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Today Only: Get Lightroom for $69!

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom
Adobe Photoshop Lightroom

I have seen great specials from Adobe on Lightroom before (Christmas sale was $149) but this post-Valentine’s Day special blows anything I have seen away! Just today, you can get Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 for just $69.95 from B&H. An incredible deal, considering the regular retail price tag of $269.95. Can’t complain about the price anymore!

While B&H does not have Lightroom in stock right now (sold out), you can still place an order and get your copy as soon as they have it back in stock, which they will very soon.

Lightroom 3.6 and Camera RAW 6.6 have been released

Lightroom Icon
Lightroom Icon

Adobe has just released final versions of Lightroom 3.6 and Camera RAW 6.6 that have been in “release candidate” state for over a month (download link for Windows and Macintosh). As shown on Adobe’s blog, the update fixes a number of serious bugs, in addition to providing full support for the new Nikon 1 V1 / Nikon 1 J1 cameras and a bunch of new lenses from various manufacturers.

Here is the full list of newly supported cameras:

  1. Canon PowerShot S100
  2. Fuji FinePix X10
  3. Leica V-LUX 3
  4. Nikon 1 V1
  5. Nikon 1 J1
  6. Panasonic DMC-GX1
  7. Ricoh GR Digital IV
  8. Samsung NX5
  9. Samsung NX200
  10. Sony NEX-7

A bunch of new lens profiles have also been added. Here are the lens profiles for the Nikon mounts:

  1. Sigma 12-24mm f/4.5-5.6 DG HSM II
  2. Sigma 150mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM APO Macro
  3. Sigma 105mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro
  4. Nikon 1 NIKKOR 10mm f/2.8
  5. Nikon 1 NIKKOR VR 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6
  6. Nikon AF-S DX Micro-NIKKOR 40mm f/2.8G

Note that two of the lenses in the above list are the brand new Nikon 1 Nikkor lenses. I will be publishing reviews of these lenses within the next couple of days. Nikon 1 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 will be the first to be reviewed and compared.

How to Watermark a Photo in Lightroom 3

Big and Ugly Watermark

In this article, I will show you how to watermark a photo in Lightroom 3 using the standard, available tools. Adding copyright watermarks to photographs in Photoshop can be a very time consuming task. Although you can create a batch job for watermarking multiple images in Photoshop, it is a rather slow and cumbersome process that involves recording actions for different layouts. Embedding watermarks in Lightroom 2 was also painful, because you had to use a separate plugin that had to be installed and configured. Gladly, Lightroom 3 now has an integrated functionality to embed watermarks that you can use in batch action while exporting your images. Let’s go over the new method of embedding watermarks and how you can use Lightroom 3 to watermark all of your vertical or horizontal images during the file export process.

How to watermark a photo

1) Why Watermark Your Images?

The first question you might ask yourself is – should you or should you not watermark your images? There are many opinions on this matter. Some photographers argue that watermarks prevent theft (which I and many others disagree with), allow self-promotion and help build brand recognition, while others argue that adding watermarks spoils the viewing experience and does more harm than good. Let me quickly point out what I think about watermarks and when they should and should not be used.

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Portrait Editing: Before and After

After

In this article, I will show you an example of how I process portraits (before and after) and what my portrait editing workflow is like. Many of our readers ask how I post-process my images for my wedding blog and I decided to put together a quick example. Obviously, every image is different, so while some photos take very little of my time in Lightroom, others might take a while to process in Lightroom and Photoshop. This image in particular is from our recent “Bridesmaids Photoshoot“, a collaborative effort by many talented individuals in Colorado.

For any portrait work, it is best to shoot RAW. First, because the skin tone is very important and any white balance issues can be quickly taken care of in post-processing and second, because you can recover a lot of details from a RAW file. For me it all starts in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. If I cannot get something done in Lightroom, I  import images to Photoshop for further processing. Both Lightroom and Photoshop are very powerful applications – you can get a lot done without using any plugins or other third party software. Do not be afraid to experiment with either Lightroom or Photoshop, as it will only help you broaden your knowledge and build up your post-processing skills.

The close ups usually require a lot of work, due to the abundance of details and features. But the amount of time you put in all depends on the type of look you are trying to achieve. Here is the original image SOOC (straight out of the camera):

Before

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