My fellow photographers know that when it comes to post production I really focus on two ideas. First I want to keep my post production work to a minimal. I want people to notice the emotion first, the photograph second, and hopefully they don’t notice the post work at all. Second, I want to be able to deliver fast turn around times to my client. I hear horror stories of clients waiting for six months to get their photos from photographers. I try to get every wedding done in a couple of weeks.
One of the reasons I am able to do that is by using Adobe Lightroom, along with a set of my custom presets designed to speed up my workflow. Below is a download link as well as a brief explanation of what the presets do.
Blue Sky Enhancer
This preset subtlety darkens and increases the saturation on the blue channel. It is especially useful for clear blue skies.
The BW filters convert the image to grey-scale with a filter similar to the way color black and white film filters work. The blue filter brightens the blue channel while darkening yellows and reds. The yellow filter brightens yellows, and darkens blues. The red filter brightens reds while darkening blues and greens.
Coffee Stained is a toning filter that works similar to traditional coffee staining of color prints. Similar to sepia toning, but effects the “paper” more than the “silver.” In other words it tones the highlights more than the shadows.
Fill and Blacken
Fill and Blacken is one of my favorite most useful presets. There is nothing sexy about it, but it is incredibly useful. The filter simply boosts brightness in the shadows while reducing brightness in the blacks. By doing so it allows you to recover shadow detail without ending up with muddy looking blacks. It comes in three strengths, 1.0, 1.5, and 2.0. The highest boosts shadows to 100, but as you can see still maintains dark blacks. This preset isn’t intended to work on photos that are underexposed. It works best with photos where you needed to opt for a lower exposure in the shadows in order to maintain highlight detail.
Sometimes there is just too much contrast in a scene. Flatten is designed to pull back the whites and boost the shadows reducing overall contrast while still maintaining the original exposure. Use it when you have an image that needs a little shadow detail brought back.
Grey Pop Red Filter
The same as Grey Pop, but adds a red filter. The red filter is great for bringing out a nice glow in skin tones. Be careful using this filter with blue skies, because the blue channel is darkened and it can cause haloing at the edges.
Another super useful but not super sexy set of filters. The midbright filter works by adjusting the middle of the curves tool without changing shadows or highlights. Notice in the example how it brightens the mid tones without effecting the rest of the image.
Post sunflare is more of a creative adjustment. It allows you to add a sunflare coming from the left of the image along with an overall warming and exposure effect.
Punch is a slightly modified version of the preset that comes with Lightroom. It adds a slight boost to contrast and saturation, and a large boost to clarity. The result is a lot of local contrast which works best on inanimate objects like rings. If you use it for images of people, it could actually increase the appearance of imperfections.
Rich shadows is designed to add some warm to the silver parts of a black and white image (the shadows.) Think of it as the opposite of the Coffee Stained filter above. This filter leaves the highlights more or less intact, and adds some warmth to the shadows.
Skin brightener uses the HSL sliders in order to brighten and soften some common caucasian skin tones. It is so subtle that you could actually apply this to every portrait image as a default. (I am planning on adding a similar feature for other skin tones soon.)
Another super useful utility. It adds clarity, contrast, saturation, and vibrance to an image. Just be careful using this for people because increases in clarity can increase the appearance of skin blemishes. It is best for images with a lot of graphical elements and color.
Exactly what it says. It gives a subtle increase to vibrance.
The WB presets do the exact same thing as the buttons in Lightroom’s treatment panel, but I have found that making presets has reduced my time having to look around to click for them.These work great when you shoot in Auto White Balance, and you want to be able to quickly batch select images and convert them to a new white balance without having to hunt for the treatment panel.
I hope you all find these tools useful. Feel free to share them and alter them to best suit your needs. As I said earlier, these are not intended to be the super sexy type of preset that is available commercially. These are intended to speed up your workflow, so you don’t need to spend as much time repeating the same tasks over and over. If you like these, shoot me an email or find me on Facebook. If you don’t like them, or need some technical support, try Google first.