Perfectly Clear for Landscapes

By Mark

Last week I wrote about how much I like this plug in for quickly and effectively editing portraits.  It also has settings for Landscapes and for fixing dark images.

With just basic Lightroom adjustments

With just basic Lightroom adjustments

With Perfectly Clear applied

With Perfectly Clear applied

I have to say that I don’t think it is quite as good on those as it is on people.   The top level menu is exactly the same.

The presets only impact the top part of the adjustment menu.

They pump up the vibrancy and detail and they certainly have a visible impact as can be seen from this side by side comparison. 

I like the effect on the sky and clouds, but am not thrilled with the color changes in the foreground.

The fix dark images preset actually does a nice job in brightening up those shadow areas while managing the noise levels those areas create. I think that it adds a strange glow however to the trees.  

Ireland3-259.jpg
Ireland3-259-Edit.jpg

Applying it to this nice water and castle crisped up the details and made both the sky and lake much more vibrant, but did nothing really special. 

Ireland3-288.jpg
Ireland3-288-Edit.jpg

I understand that the next update to the software plans on making significant improvements to the non-portrait features, so I am not giving up on them yet.  It’s just not going to displace some of the other tools in my bag of tricks for landscapes.  

Import With Presets

By Roger (20 Mar 2014)

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom (LR) was designed to increase your productivity and organization. If you buy LR, or any similar program, you should ensure you take full advantage of these features. They are easy to learn and can make a big difference in your work flow. You're wasting your money if you buy the software and use it only as a photo viewer and RAW conversion tool.

You can improve your photos and speed your work flow, even before you can see the photos in the Library module, by using only one part of the Import menu. It's down at the bottom of the Import menu and labeled Apply During Import.

Three areas I always use during Import.

Three areas I always use during Import.

The first pull-down menu is Develop Settings. You can apply any of the presets that ship with LR, but, better yet, you can create your own presets to use. If you need a refresher on presets, see Mark's blog from about three years ago (here).

I use a preset I created as a starting point for all my photos. Why is that even necessary?

Just in case you didn't know, the image you see on the back of your camera is a JPG – a JPG that has been processed inside the camera. This is true even when your camera is set to record only RAW. Many new photographers are dismayed when they import a RAW photo into LR, and it doesn't look as vibrant as what they saw on the camera's LCD. The reason is simple – the RAW photo hasn't been processed, yet.My preset puts the photo very close to what I saw on the camera's LCD. It adds lens correction, a little clarity and a smidge of vibrance to the RAW photos. If I decide later that I want to reduce or add to the settings I added on import, that is an easy change.  Of course, you can make multiple presets, but you can only one during import.

The second pull-down menu is labeled Metadata. I just talked about metadata in September (here). LR will automatically bring in the information from the camera, but LR allows you to add other information into the metadata for your photos: city; state; country: job number; captions; comments, etc. However, this information probably changes with every different shoot, and there are more efficient ways to add these in one step, once the photos are imported. But some things are consistent, and, for that I've made another preset. The preset adds in my contact and copyright information. Every time I import photos, my information is added. You can make more than one preset here, too.

The last block is for Keywords. I use this block for high level keywords since you want to ensure you are inserting keywords appropriate to every photo of your import. I'll insert the highly-specific keywords after the import. For example, in the spread below, you can see all the photos are from a wedding. Since I shot the wedding, I know it was in Poland. I entered both “Wedding” and “Poland” as keywords on import. All other keywords – names, food, dance, reception, etc. – will be entered after import.

When importing, use keywords common to every photo.

When importing, use keywords common to every photo.

You can see how paying attention to these three little things, at the bottom of the Import menu can help you move quickly through some admin work and prep your photos for further development. You will have to pay attention to the keywords, but the other two presets are fixed once, and they're done. This saves you time in your work flow and gets you back to the fun stuff.

PRESETS are Fun

So I’ve been wrestling with this blog for two days now and last night was on the verge of despair, as I couldn’t make it “EXCITING”.   I was sniveling to a friend and they said just explain how Presets are useful, if not all that exciting, but we need to know about them so we can do more fun stuff later.  To me, actually are exciting, but then I am a Lightroom geek.  Anything which saves me time and allows me to automate effects I like is useful.   That is what Presets are; a collection of settings which you can with one click, apply to your photograph.   You can save any combination of the Develop module settings.  LR comes with a bunch already built in.   One of the first ways to decide if you like a particular effect, is simply to scroll your mouse over it and the little thumbnail image will change to show you how it will look.  If you want to try it, simply click it and your real image will change.  Because LR is non destructive, if you don’t like it, you can easily go back and undo your change.  

The structure of Lightroom also allows you to find and import presets others have created.  One of my favorite sources is Matt Kloskowski’s podcast and blog  http://lightroomkillertips.com/  .  He has created thousands of presets.  Some are useful, some not so much for me.  Here is one he created, called “Matt’s Nostalgic Effect nr. 2”.   It seemed appropriate to use on this Gettysburg photo of one of the reenactors.   Here is the orignal  and here is the effect. So what does it do?  Well it largely de-saturates the color and increases the contrast. Here are the actual settings. Not quite a black and white, but somehow an “old” looking photo.  Oh and if you want to tweak the settings, go right ahead

Several years ago after the movie “300” came out, everywhere you looked you saw pictures that had that same effect.  It is also pretty easy to do and really just carries the effects of the Nostalgic  look to extremes.  All of the color is desaturated and the contrast and sharpness are pushed way, way up.  Not a good look on most portraits of women, but effective on mature men and solid objects.

The presets also do a really good job in finding the right settings for Black and White conversions.  There is a lot more involved in changing color photos to B&W. 

As a creative user of LR, the program allows you to easily save your own settings and reuse them.  The Soft Fall Impression effect I created for the last blog is one.  There are much more useful ways of applying these tools, everyday. One of the ways I use these presets is when I am importing my photos from the card reader.  I set up a preset to do nothing more than enable the “Lens Correction Profiles” on. 

Play with them, remember in LR, you can always go back and start over.