If you are shooting photos with a good DSLR and proper lens material, you should expect top results. Very often I see pictures which are quite flat and blur, most of them seem to be JPEG format right out of the camera. Are Lightroom presets the solution?
Shooting in RAW
In my opinion it is essential for ambitious photographers to shoot in RAW format and do some post processing later, to get sharp and colorful results.
The downside of this is – a lot of work in post processing.
Up to now I did most of my post-processing of my RAW photos manually in Adobe Lightroom.
As I came back recently from a 3 week vacation trip there were a lot photos to work on.
For some time I did recognize on photo postings, advertising and pop-ups everywhere Photoshop & Lightroom presets.
After I used in the past just for some low-key B&W pictures one particular free preset which I found a while ago somewhere on the web.
A few colour presets I found free for trial on the web as well, but none of them war really exciting.
Now I wanted to try a more professional one. I decided to go for the landscape presets „Through The Woods“ from Sleeklens.
Sleeklens „Through The Woods“ Landscape Presets
This was the workflow I came across to see what benefit it could me bring over my manual routine.
I just have to add that I am quite satisfied with the results I achieve, using my manual workflow. This process has improved a lot in 4 years of step-by-step learning.
But on photo sharing sites you sometimes see great shots, I often wonder how this can be – especially colorful sunset and dusk photos…. – However I do not really like overexposed and too much photoshopped artificial looking work, and sometimes you see this also.
My photos should primarily have a natural look, this is what I am looking for.
Since I sell also some of my work on different Stockphoto sites over the past 3 years, I recognize with some of my high-runners, that buyers more likely buy slightly oversaturated photos. They have to be bright for some advertising, calenders or vacation catalogues…
Installation of the Lightroom presets
After downloading the presets I was reading the „before you start“ pdf. (because I had some trouble installing other presets before…)
There is a link in this manual to a short video tutorial to see how you import the presets and another one about installation of the brushes in Lightroom.
Both was really easy and took just a few minutes before I could start.
First photo editing
To start my test, I picked a recent „walk-by“ sunset. It was not a real great scene which happened that evening in Malmö, but it was the only one I got through my trip.
I tried before to make something out of it but the result was kind of flat.
Here is the result after applying Lightroom „auto“ setting
Whith the „Camera Landscape“ the colours get a little more saturated
And here is the point, sometimes you have just one chance to get a photograph somewhere and the weather is not ideal. Sometimes this when I finally go with monochrome (and my old free preset)
Now I tried simply to use some of the Sleeklens All-in-One presets.
This one is much too orange in my opinion
Next was the „Dawnrising“ Version which was little better.
With the All-In-One preset „shine into the sunset“ I was most satisfied.
After this I added some slightly correction with some brushes like „Add Golden Sun“ „Cyan“ and „water definition“
And here is my final version. The golden sun brush on the water is a little too much for my taste, but in this case I just wanted to demonstrate the impact of the brush.
Another picture which I quickly pimped a bit with the sharpness and clarity polish filters of „Through The Woods“ Lightroom presets is this one.
It is shot with my compact Sony DSC camera. The light situation is difficult here and there is a lot smoke and dust in the air in this environment (no flash possible).
After treating with the presets it got accepted on the Adobe Stock collection.
Deep Blue Skies
Finally here is a very nice example where I tried to get out the most of a photo at Unteruhldingen at the Lake Constance.
I was at the Pfahlbauten Museum on a ship and took this photo from the seaside. The weather was fair but hazy. As almost everytime I used a polarizer on this exposure and usually I get a nice blue sky, but not here. Why? I guess it was mostly due to the hazy weather and I took the shot from a boat on ISO200 with 1/250s. I used my Sigma 105mm to get the right frame, but the higher the distance the more foggy it was on that day.
With my own post process I got this result:
Found it o.k, but then I finally did just a single click on the Deep Blue Skies 3-color preset and the result is great:
Getting used to the Lightroom presets
After having installed the Lightroom presets and also many different brushes with the Sleeklens package, I tried to use some of the brushes more intense. They are quite helpful and easy to use in some critical light conditions, such as panoramas which are stitched together from several single shots. Here you often have a difficult light when you stitch a 180° pano.
After some time continuing to work through my batch of photos, I recognize that I tend to use the presets more regular to do a first step in processing and then start with fine tuning.
Lightroom Presets are helpful for faster processing and especially for people who do not want to play long time with each single photo.
Also for beginners it is definitely easier to get photos processed. Once you find filters and workflows which are close to your taste it makes post processing much faster.
I definitely will use more intense and try some more in the future.