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I want to share my passion for the digital darkroom. For me getting the best out of the photos I take is something I love doing


I hope to add an article or two a week on important lightroom techniques.

By lensface, May 16 2013 11:58PM

When it comes to the presets in lightroom we have a decent selection out of the box which you can find in the left panel of the develop module. For most purposes though these are often not a perfect fit for what I want to do with my image, they are however a good starting point. It's worth taking the time to edit these and save your own custom preset after you have created your perfect look. When your working on a set of images of the same scene taken at the same time, being able to use your preset on each image can save valuable time.

To create your own preset adjust what you want to in the develop module settings and then simply press the preset + button. You'll see a dialogue box as shown below. Uncheck areas you have not made changes to. For example uncheck effects if you haven't configured any vignetting or grain. Give your preset a friendly name and it can be stored in your User Presets folder for ever more.

It's worth spending some time with your favourite search engine and looking out for presets others have created. I found a neat lighting preset the other day which used a graduated filter with the exposure increaed to the right or left corner of the picture. Take a look here


By lensface, Mar 9 2013 07:20AM

Getting the right white balance for your pictures will sometimes be very easy and other times quite tricky. Nowadays lightroom will read the 'as shot' white balance data from your picturet and display your pictures by default with the white balance it recorded at the time your picture was shot. Now this can and will work very well a lot of the time, however at other times the technology can let us down and adjustments will be needed.

Professional portrait photographers working in controlled studio conditions will use a grey card. This is as it says, simply a piece of card coloured grey and used as a reference point for the camera. The rest of us probably won't be carrying around a piece of card when we are out and about with the kids so using lightroom to make subtle post processing adjustments is the next best thing.

Now white balance is one of those things you want to work on first in your post processing workflow. This is why the Adobe Lightroom team have put these tools up at the very top of the develop module.

Now you see the eyedropper icon to the left of the above picture under the treatment. We can use this to select the white balance for our picture. What we need to do is select this tool and hover over a section of the image. You will see something similar to the zoomed in colour picker below.

Now to get the right white balance you should aim somewhere in the image that is a light grey, don't choose anything completely white or too dark. Also try and keep the red, green, blue values about the same. Once you have your square click on it and have a look at the results. Use the before and after views to compare the image. You will probably find you need a few attempts to get this right.

Personally I rarely, if ever use the eyedropper tool to set white balance. I use the Temp slider itself. Drag the develop panel out to the left to make it easier to be accurate with values when sliding the Temp slider. See below and compare this with the above.

The values on the Temp slider are based on kelvin values and without going to deep into Temperature theory simply slide the temp to the left to make the picture appear cooler and to the right to make it appear warmer. Find something that suits your picture. This will depend upon what you feel is right and what the conditions were like when you took the picture.

If you prefer a more automatic approach click on the Custom text show below. A pop up menu will appear. Try each option to see the effect on your photo.

Remember the final values you choose are a personal choice. Use the settings creatively. Cooling down pictures taken at night with warm lighting is especially effective in reducing the unnatural orange / red colouration. Be bold, play around!

By lensface, Feb 26 2013 08:15AM

If you are going to start investing your precious time into post processing your digital photos then before long you are going to need to think about colour calibration. This is the process undertaken, using a hardware calibrator, to ensure the colours in your work are going to look the same on another calibrated display.

Your going to need to invest around $150 for a budget hardware monitor calibrator. You can spend a lot more and the difference will be in whether actual calibration or profile adjustment is undertaken. I purchased my calibrator some years ago from gretamacbeth. It's just a basic model, nothing to flashy but it does the job. It attaches to the screen and you run some software on your PC and the software will then output a bunch of colours on the screen while the device measures the output. At the end of this process the software should show you a before and after result. It will then provide a .ICC file which is used by Windows and other applications such as Adobe Photoshop. The software should apply this colour profile to your windows installation automatically. You can verify this in the advanced display properties under the Colour Management page. See the picture above.

You should probably run through the process once every 3 months or so as an amateur and more regularly as a pro. Always make sure the monitor has been running for a while first and do the calibration in a dark room without any other light sources.

One of the most important reasons to calibrate is to make sure your tiny adjustments made in Lightroom are of course valid. There is nothing worse than adjusting and then buying a new monitor only to find that this monitor was more accurate than your last model and actually all your adjustments were too harsh or undercooked. Also when you send your work of to be printed professionally you should get accurate results back. With regard to printing. If your doing this at home and want good accurate results then consider getting your printer calibrated to. Usually you can send of a printed sample to a company who will then provide a profile for your printer which you can use in software such as Adobe Lightroom.

By lensface, Feb 19 2013 07:43AM

These two settings usually go hand in hand, and therefore the Adobe Lightroom developer team have kept these two options together in the menu. They can be found in the collapsable 'Detail' section of the Develop module.

Sharpening help make our pictures look more crisp, the edges become more pronounced and the details can be enhanced.

Noise reduction is an essential setting which helps control the digital noise which is created by the capture of light by the cameras photosensor. The higher the ISO setting was when the picture was taken the more noise will be present on the picture. Noise exists as Luminance or Colour type.

As with all settings in lightroom the defaults can be reset by double clicking the text to the left of the setting. For example double clicking on Amount will reset the Amount of sharpening to the default value

The magnified view helps with making fine adjustments to our picture here. When adjusting sharpening amount try and find an area of the image with plenty of edge detail. Then gently move the slider back and forward to find the level suitable for your picture. Click on the magnified image will zoom in and zoom out.

The Radius setting is the size in pixels around the sharpening area that is effected by the amount of sharpening you applied. Changes here are subtle but increasing the radius above the default can cause a loss of detail. I rarely adjust this much at all and the default of 1.0 is fne for most.

Detail brings out edge details in the picture. This setting controls what gets sharpened in the image. Very fine detail will not necessarily get sharpened as much with a setting of 0, change this to 100 and watch even the very fine detail become more pronounced.

Masking - An often overlooked setting which helps temper the effects of the previous settings. Adjust this carefully and watch the noise dissapear. This tool does what noise reduction does for the overall image, but has specific effect on edge detail

On to the noise section.

Luminance noise is noticed most in areas of similar colour and tone, such as the sky. Zoom in on that part of the image and adjust the Luminance slider to the right to remove the noise in your picture. You'll want to move the slider back and forth until you find a level that is right for your image. As I mentioned earlier noise increases with the ISO setting your picture was taken at. If you took the picture at 100 ISO then noise probably won't be an issue. If it was night time and the lights were dim and you didn't use a flash then noise will be considerable if the ISO was 1600 or even 3200. You will want to shift the luminance slider up more in these cases. Too much noise reduction reduces the detail in your shots. Effectively it can remove sharpness and that is why we find sharpness and noise reduction settings together in the menu's. Noise reduction can also be used at more extreme levels to give the picture and almost watercolour look. Try this on portrait photo's to smooth out the results.

The detail slider underneath Luminance is used to control the loss of detail that noise reduction effects. The more you slide the detail slider to the right, the more it will control the luminance noise reduction. Try this when zoomed in for yourself. The contrast slider beneath the noise reduction can restore the loss of contrast that is caused by increased luminance noise reduction.

Colour noise is more apparent again on high ISO photos, especially those taken at night in dark surroundings. It is likely to show up as a fine dusting of speckles of colour on the photo especially around dark areas. Zoom in an adjust this slider to the right until you have reduced this to an acceptable level.

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