Posts tagged Lightroom presets
Before and After Edit + FREE PRESETS!

For this "before and after" edit I am using a shot from an album cover session I did with the bluegrass stars Darin and Brooke Aldridge.

This image was shot with the Canon 5D Mark lll using the Sigma 35mm Art lens.

My camera settings were 1/400 sec, ƒ/2.0, ISO 100.

I edited this photo to this Spotify playlist.

If you'd like to see all the specific editing decisions that I made with this photo then download the RAW file, use the Lightroom preset + VSCO Film's Kodak Elite ll 50-C camera profile + use my Alien Skin Exposure custom preset in Alien Skin Exposure X2.

That's a lot of a processing so if you have questions along the way feel free to ask in the comments below. 

My 3 Favorite Lightroom CC Tools

I've spent thousands of hours editing photographs in Lightroom. I loathe wasting time and stressing out about editing so I spend a decent amount of time trying to figure out how to optimize my time while simultaneously increasing the quality of my photos.  There are 3 tools that I use every time I edit my photographs in Lightroom.  These tools help me reduce stress, streamline my process and increase my confidence during editing.

1. Navigator Window.  Several years ago I did a "100 day self portrait project".  I would shoot and edit everyday then post a self portrait on Instagram.  I'd be editing in Photoshop for hours a day.  Since I was only posting these photos to Instagram I started thinking "I should probably view my photos like my audience views them".   I was realizing that folks weren't seeing my images "full screen" in the manner that I was editing them.  I fixed this my simply "zooming out" every so often.  This allowed me to see a "thumbnail" of my edited image and simulated how my audience would view my photo on Instagram.   This helped me make more calculated editing decisions but it was kind of annoying to have to zoom out and then back in every so often.   When I started editing in Lightroom I noticed that I had access to this "thumbnail view" all the time. This is the navigator window.  This window gives you a live view of editing changes as well as a preview to any "hover over" edits (i.e. presets, white balance, etc.)


2.Before & Undo Shortcut.  Like many folks I need routine validation and affirmation in my life.   I need this while editing in Lightroom too.  When editing a photo I want to be able to quickly check to see if my editing decision, preset choice, white balance setting, etc. was  good one.   Sometimes we're changing things and moving sliders so much that we start to second guess our editing choices..especially if you've been editing for a while.  I use the "before" shortcut a lot.  This shortcut is used by simply hitting the backslash key \ . This key is probably somewhere near the "delete" key on your keyboard. When you use this shortcut it will give a preview of what your photo looked like before you began editing it.  I tap this every time I make a big change.  For smaller changes I use the "undo" shortcut.  The "undo" shortcut is "CMD/CTRL Z".   I use this if I'm doing small tweaks like tones, curves, blacks, whites, etc.   Since I'm a little bit OCD I go back and forth until I find that sweet spot in each slider.  The "undo" shortcut allows me to simply go back one step so I can compare it to the latter editing decision.  *tip:  the "redo" shortcut is "SHIFT + CMD/CTRL Z".  If I notice that my editing decision was one that I want to keep then I'll use this shortcut. 


3. Zoom.   Let's face it.  Our eyes get tired,  they deteriorate and we visually miss some important details in our photos sometimes.  The "zoom" tool helps me with this during my editing.   Many times I need to be "closer" to certain elements of my photos.  One example is when I'm editing my wide shots with a human subject.  My wide shots tend to be dramatic and full of potentially distracting elements.  To help my eyes and brain focus in on making sure that my subject (faces) is well lit and edited exactly how I want to, I will zoom in on the face and edit the photo from there.  This ensures that I'm not editing just the scene but my subject FIRST, THEN the wider, less important part of my photo.   To zoom in on a photo all you have to do is use the shortcut CMD/CTRL + or simply click when you see the magnifying glass with a + on it.  



If you're not the reading type  then you can listen and watch me demonstrate these 3 tools in this video I made.  

Please leave any questions, comments or feedback below.  I'd love to hear from you!


Before & After (Double Exposure Edition)

Sometimes photographers over-do it. I know I do. We try to fill the background with abstract interesting lines. We put stuff in front of our lens to get dreamy, cool effects. We increase the saturation a bit too much or add just a tad bit too much contrast. With double exposure photography it's the opposite. The goal in the end is to create a simple, beautiful fine art photograph. There's 3 things to consider in order to achieve this goal.


Subject, Simple and Subtle


Subject: You have two subjects in double exposure photography. The first subject is generally the outline or silhouette of the top half of a human-usually facing to the side in order to get their facial profile (there are always exceptions to this but in general this works the best). This is basically a portrait with a solid blown-out background and most of the human is underexposed. As you practice this you'll figure out how to light the subject in creative ways according to your style.

The second subject is the "fill" image. This is the second image you take to fill in the outline of the first image. It might be flowers, a tree line, building, mountains, etc. This image should be generally focused throughout the area that is doing the "filling". There should be a distinct texture with contrasting lines.

Simple: Your background should be simple. This means that when you shoot your silhouette portrait where you "blow out" the background, the area around the person should be free of other objects like trees, buildings, power lines, etc. The fill image is very abstract and difficult to decipher from your audience's perspective, so making sure that the background is clear of unneeded distractions is important.

Subtle: Your editing of double exposures should be quite subtle.  Some specifics elements to pay close attention to are saturation, contrast, exposure, highlights and shadows. A slight "matte" effect is generally a good choice when editing double exposures as well.

The reason for editing with such subtlety is that the image is already very abstract and interesting without color and contrast added. It has a surreal, fine art feel from the beginning. If we edit a double exposure just like a regular portrait then you run the risk of taking away from the "beauty" feel and creating an almost "illustrated" feel. We want this to still be photography when we're done so instead of increasing the usual editing elements we may need to decrease them.   I have a whole filmpack of presets that I personally use specifically for editing double exposures because the differentiation is so great. 


Recently, I was on a test shoot with a model and another photographer and we attempted to apply my 3 double exposure principles to craft a simple double exposure photo.  I shot this with the 5D Mark lll \\ 50L.  

The initial portrait settings were 1/250 ƒ2.8 ISO 100. 

The textured tree line settings were 1/100 ƒ4.0 ISO 100.



Here is the textured tree line shot:

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Before & After

This before and after was shot with the Fujifilm x100 right after I broadcasted on Facebook here.

It was shot at around 8pm in extremely low,cool light at 1/80 sec, ƒ2, ISO 800.

One thing I love about this camera is the wide fixed lens and mobility.   These two things allow me to include "myself" in photos just like this one. 

Before & After

This "before & after" shot was during a shoot I did with my good friend Cate.  

I have some issues with this photograph and spent some time on it.  My big issue was that I've lost my lens hood for my 50mm 1.2 lens on my 5D Mark lll.  You'll notice an excessive amount of light above her head.  This is what happens when you shoot into the sun without a lens hood.   

After applying my presets in Lightroom, I sent the photo over to Alien Skin Exposure for grain.