A few months ago I received an email from a software company call Sleeklens. They offered to give me a set of their Lightroom Presets (Through the Woods) for free in exchange for a product review. At first I was skeptical because I had never heard of this company or so I thought!
I searched their internet page and contacted another photographer, Mike Moats (he was listed on their Facebook Page), he recalled their products, and said, “Why not give it try?”
I contacted Sleeklens and ideally they wanted a turn-around time of a couple of weeks. I knew based on my schedule and other life happenings, it probably would not happen for a couple of months!
My opinion on presets is not a “Hip-Hip-Hooray” attitude. My past experience with presets are “It’s a good start” then I have to tweak to get it to the stage I want it. With that being said, I think my review may come as a surprise!
I have other presets that I’ve received from other companies, either as a premium or something I’ve purchased. I opened the presets in Lightroom and noticed I had other presets from Sleeklens…I’m not quite sure where I had downloaded them from. I played around with them a little; at least it was somewhat of an assurance this was a legit company.
I had just returned from Yellowstone National Park and was still playing around with my images when the email came with the “Through the Woods” presets. The presets come with Develop and Adjustment Brush presets. I had loaded some of my previous brush presets in the wrong folder and with the instructions I moved those to the correct location so I had a whole new game going!
Lets look at before and after images. Many of these I did reset to the original, some I added the preset after my initial adjustments were present.
I felt encouraged after I saw the results of this image so I tried another.
Since the color presets were working so well, I decided to do a monochrome image.
By now I feel that using the Sleeklens presets is definitely a great start to any image, but also can stand alone!
To conclude, yes, the Sleeklens Through the Woods presets are a “winner, winner!” I went in feeling very skeptical about using a preset, but the more I played and worked with them, it became apparent that the presets could function on their own without much help or further adjustments. I give this a thumbs up! To purchase your set of presets and brushes you can go to Sleeklens for Lightroom
Until recently I did not realize how many different types of leaf photographs I had. Leaves are fascinating. They bud in the spring and are a lively green; then in the fall, they change to reds, yellows, and oranges. Structurally, leaves have veins, stems, and are textually interesting. I love to bring that texture forward in my photographs.
I had posted the above before and after in my post “Creativity: Where Does it Start?” I had transformed the ordinary palm leave to be viewed “differently”. I feel as a photographer it is my job to challenge our view of reality from time to time. The processing I chose for this image changed the color as well as the perspective of the image. It also highlighted the details in the leaf and stem.
On the left you see the original image of the green leaves. I liked how the light was hitting the leaves and felt there was a “photograph” somewhere in this image. I began using my crop tool and started dragging it around the image until I settled on a crop I thought was pleasing to the eye. There was so much going on in the original photograph that I needed to isolate a section. I then converted it to black and white. The tonal range of the image worked well with that choice. I then finished my editing in On1 Effects to add texture and to bring out the details in the leaves.
The above sycamore leaf was taken with my Sigma 120 – 300 f/2.8 zoom. I removed the lower right stem with the patch tool in Photoshop, then edited the color and texture in On1 Effects. The transformation was just what I wanted.
I was trying out my Tamron 28 – 300 f/3.5 – 5.6 and captured this leaf hanging off of my maple tree. I was exploring for things to photograph with the lens as I had just purchased it from KEH. I brought out the texture and details using On1 Effects. The sharpening tools in On1 Effects does a great job bringing out the details in images.
This was another leaf I was practicing on with my Tamron 28 – 300 f/3.5 – 5.6. It was a single color leaf among the dry gray and brown leaves. It caught my attention while walking around my patio.
I spotted the oak leaf while walking around William and Mary College’s Campus this fall. While the image itself is a little soft, I enhanced that softness by decreasing the clarity. The colors are very vibrant. I added a soft white vignette to make the leaf stand out.
Above are a few of my other leaf images I have captured over the last year. I hope you enjoyed exploring the world of leaves! Effects 10 is available as a free download!
Lightroom presets are interesting. Most of the time I prefer to edit my own images. If I do decide to choose a preset, I end up making additional adjustments, so I figure I should start from scratch anyway.
I saw the frosty fog rising off of the river on Sunday morning and noticed how the trees became frost covered. I know the time frame to capture this is short and it was already 10:00 a.m. I knew I had to get moving!
I used a 0.6 ND filter, because the sun was so bright and it really separated the blue sky while maintaining the white snow. I photographed these images with my Tamron 24 – 75mm f/2.8 on my Nikon D800E at ISO 50. Shutter speeds and aperture varied depending on the light. Most of the time it was at f/8 – 11 and 1/100 – 1/200.
In post I decided to try the IR preset. Some of the images were very impressive using this preset. I do like a little more contrast, so I adjusted the blacks and contrast slightly to give me the look I wanted.
I hovered over some of the other presets and the Direct Positive really made the images pop with color! The contrast between the blues and whites was beautiful! Direct positive is a process dating back to the 1800’s. Typically, the image was captured directly onto the paper and it was a black and white image. In Lightroom, the direct positive setting increases the saturation, blacks, and highlights and produces a very high color image. The image can be easily converted to black and white after using the Direct Positive preset.
The images below demonstrate the use of 2 different presets in light room; Direct Positive on the left and infrared (IR) on the right.
While I do like my images to have a little more contrast (more pleasing to my eye), there is something about the subtleness of the image below that I like. Left is the original and right is IR. I did remove the boat from the image.
The vignette in the corners is from my ND filter on the camera. I do attempt to remove that with cropping or adding a reverse vignette.
I suggest you try some of the presets in Lightroom; what is nice, Lightroom gives you a preview of what it will look like. I use this as a starting point then make my own adjustments. I have also set up my own presets in the past if I’m editing a batch and making the same changes throughout.
Have fun experimenting in Lightroom!
I started playing around with this photograph because I liked the backlighting and shadow. I edited it in On1 Photo to add the effects and coloration to the photograph.
I called this moon rock because the texture in the sand gave a mysterious appearance. It also reminds me of a sunset on the beach.
Just a little fun with On1 tonight.
I decided to try focus stacking. Focus stacking is when you take a series of images and you focus on one section of the image at a time, then save them as PSD images. The key is to have your camera on a tripod so you do not change position.
Open the images then go to File>Scripts>Load Files into Stacks. After you stack the files you go to Edit>Auto-Blend-Layers.
The image will be in focus throughout.
This was fun to try. I will have to try it again sometime.
I saw a Facebook post on group site I participate in about refraction of light. The images were very interesting. I decided to put together a few items for our camera club to use at a future meeting.
If you google refraction of light you come back with a lot of scientific information. However when you google refraction of light in photography a lot of nice images appear!
With help from a friend of mine, I put together several backgrounds; some had color some were black and white. I purchased scrapbooking paper and used double stick tape and old scrap mats to mount the paper to so they would not bend.
Using a pole lamp with 3 lights to light my subject, I put up my backgrounds and filling glasses with water. I also laid some of the backgrounds flat and used them as a base; the patterns then reflected on top of the water.
My camera settings (Nikon D800E) ISO 640, f/14 – 16, shutter speed ranged from 1/5, 1/3, 1/13 sec depending on which background was being used.
This is a fun winter project as you do not need a lot of supplies, just clear glasses, vases, bowls, water (distilled is recommended because tap water bubbles), and paper or fabric with a design. You can make your own designs using Photoshop and printing the off of you printer.
Have fun experimenting!
Every so often I browse through my images and something catches my eye. I look at it and think, “What can I do with this?” Images like this have so much detail and I like converting that detail into an HDR-like image. I started out by making a few adjustments to the shadows and highlights in Lightroom. I then moved the image over to On1 Effects to do the rest. I used the Amazing Detail Finder, Clarity, I lightened the shadows, Exaggerated the tones and edges, and added a subtle HDR look to the image. I moved it back into Lightroom to adjust the contrast slightly for my finished product.
See the before and after side by side:
Never give up on images you may have in your files. I hear people all of the time say they delete pictures. While I have many, many images I will never process, occasionally I find one that surprises me!
After posting this blog, it was suggested to me to see what the image looked like in black and white. Here is the result:
When photographing nature we encounter imperfect subjects. It takes a little patience and imagination to make corrections to an image after it’s captured.
While looking through images that were photographed this summer, this one was intriguing. The bug on the coneflower was lost in the shadows and was very much in focus.
The shadow slider in Lightroom opened the area and other adjustments were made to the image. Then the gap on the left kept screaming! Cropping did not help, so the image was edited in Photoshop (Photoshop is used as a plug-in to Lightroom). The magic brush tool was used to capture a piece of the adjacent area and a layer was created of that selection. The petal was turned and transformed, then a layer mask was applied so the petal could be blended in with the rest of the flower.
Then the space on the right was an attention grabber. The same technique was applied. After the second petal was added the image was saved in Lightroom and the radial filter and adjustment brush was used to make sure the bug was the central focus of the image.
Nature is imperfect and as the old margarine commercial says, “It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature!” there are those who believe that you capture the image “as is” and make no changes. Making changes to an image that is imperfect has it’s merit. The photographer has to make the decision if the risk of “fooling Mother Nature” is worth taking!
We are all familiar with the chicken and egg concept…which came first? In photography we are faced with a similar dilemma, do our creative ideas come when the photograph is taken or afterwards in post-processing?
There are times when an image is photographed with an end result in mind. Then there are times during post-processing when an idea emerges on how to create a special image.
Take this palm leaf for example:
It is a nice image, but it is not “special”. How about if the perspective is changed?
A diagonal line forces the eye to move up through the photograph. While it is an acceptable image, what else can be done to make it more interesting?
By changing the color and adding textures to the image it changed the look all the way around. A tilt-shift was added on a diagonal to give a soft blur to the edges. On1 Effects is an easy way to make these changes. After the changes were made and tweaked, the images were then saved back into Lightroom.
Once the image was imported back into Lightroom, the Trey Ratcliff HDR Romance Soft pre-set was applied and the image was cropped.
Using Lightroom and On1 together is simple. If On1 is set up as a plug-in program to Lightroom, you right click on your image and choose <Edit in> and select the module you need. It will save a copy in Lightroom with your initial edits and then when you are finished in On1 it will save those changes in Lightroom so you can make additional edits if necessary.
Enjoy being creative!
Happy New Year to all! Each new year brings hope and the prospect of new opportunities for us to pursue.
On April 23, I will host my first Spring Flower Workshop. You will notice that I do not always use a macro lens to capture a nice sharp close-up. A good zoom lens (like the one your received if you purchased a kit) will give you the range you need to create wonderful close-up images. If your zoom says “macro” on it, you will be able to get a little closer than you would with a regular zoom lens. It is not a 1:1 macro, but you should be able to get close enough to capture many of the small details in your image. I wanted to share some of my macro/close-up images from 2015 to inspire you to get out and explore your surroundings!
This first group of images was taken in Colorado at Garden of the Gods. I saw this as the life span of a thistle. Through the series you can see how it changes over time. These were taken with my Tamron 24 – 75mm f/2.8. I often use it as a carry around lens and it has great close-up capabilities. I love how it blurs the background, but keeps the main image sharp.
This image will always be special to me. It was taken at the Shoot the Hills weekend photography competition. You are not able to edit your images and you have to choose your best image in each category (approximately 6 images) and turn those in to the judges. The white trillium was taken with my Sigma 105mm Macro lens using the ring flash. This was my first time participating in the competition; the image won an honorable mention in the Flora Category.
While not a flower; this cat is a nice example of a close-up image. Eyes are in focus and looking straight into the camera! I had put my camera on the ground and “hoped” it would focus on the right area. Again, this was taken with my Tamron 24 – 75mm f/2.8.
I enjoy experimenting with textures and other processing techniques. I try to look for interesting forms and shapes in my surroundings. This was taken at the Huntington Museum of Art Conservatory. It is a wonderful place to take photographs. Most of the time is is not crowded and it is great to go to on a cold day. The palm branch was processed using the On1 Photo system.
I also look for leading lines. The vine entwined itself along the branch of this plant. There is a nice curve for the eye to follow.
Young Coneflower was an image I enjoyed experimenting with. I had photographed the coneflower in front as it developed over several days. I wanted a nice linen texture and painterly feel. I used a combination of Oil Paint filter in Photoshop and did texture layering using On1 Photo. I had it printed on metallic paper with a linen texture. It does have the look and feel of a painting.
This was taken in North Carolina at Thanksgiving. I saw the “lone” leaf sticking up off of a branch in the woods. This was photographed with my Sigma 120 – 300mm f2.8. The image was processed in Lightroom.
In my opinion, I saved the best for last! My image, Purple Basil, was captured with the LensBaby Spark. The Spark comes with multiple disks that you can insert to create interesting shapes out of light. I did very little processing to this image; just basic adjustments using Lightroom. The morning sun was hitting the leaf just right. I had only a couple of minutes to photograph the leaf and the light was gone! I print this image on metallic paper and also have had a metal print created. The highly saturated colors pop on the metallic mediums. It won an Honorable Mention at the Foothills Competition in the fall.
I hope you have enjoyed the 2015 recap of my favorite images! I look forward to sharing more information in 2016!
Watch for notices of my classes and workshops for the upcoming year!