Friday, August 3, 2012

Lightroom Presets and Workflow

Let's talk Lightroom and Workflow today....and maybe a little PSE (Photoshop Elements). I will start by saying I know very little about what I'm actually talking about, so just know that this is my opinion and I know there are many other ways to do things, but this is what works for me. Maybe it can help you too?

I was talking in one of my recent posts about Lightroom and how I am using that a lot lately. I have been taking advantage of my wonderful presets as well. Sometimes I edit normally and sometimes I use the presets that I have collected from around the web. I'll post below some links to the presets I use.

I go back and forth between Photoshop Elements & Lightroom. I love both but they serve different purposes for me. I love using Lightroom for RAW photos to adjust exposure/light (and special colors) but I love using Photoshop for the actions, layers & textures (among other things). In PSE, I love using Coffeeshop blog's free "Perfect Portrait" Action. (I also really like Velvet Cream and Caramel Dreams Actions). If I am not feeling Lightroom, then I open PSE and use ACR (Adobe Camera RAW) to adjust exposure, etc... before I edit. You can achieve similar end result. ACR is a Photoshop plug-in and you can get it HERE.

So let's talk Lightroom...

Lightroom has so many capabilities, and I have only scratched the surface so far. I am a huge fan of "Fill light" and "Black" sliders. On a typical picture, I adjust white balance, fill light, exposure maybe a bit, black, and sharpen too. Maybe a little vignette here and there (OK most pictures end up with some vignette, who am I kidding?!). I also love the adjustment brush for quickie spot fixes/enhancements.

This is how I do my Lightroom workflow:

  • I copy my photos off my memory card (I shoot in 'RAW & JPG' mode, so I have both)
  • I put them into a folder  on my laptop labeled this month and what the occasion is such as "Donaldson Farm"
  • Open Lightroom and import the new photos in. You can set up Lightroom to only import RAW if you have them mixed in a folder with JPG's too. 
  • Then, I edit the ones I like and rate them with 5 stars (this tags them)
  • Once done editing, I go back to library, and drop down the menu and choose "Rated" so it removes the non-starred photos from view. You will only be able to see the ones that were tagged with stars. (This is just an easy way to narrow down to the shots you edited only) 
  • Then I choose all and export to my previously created folder (Donaldson farms) but I then put them in a subfolder called "LR Fixed" so I know those are my {LightRoom} edited shots.
  • I then look through them and decide what needs some additional editing in Photoshop Elements (like eye definition or hazing, etc). I try not to dilly-dally too long but sometimes it happens. I do enjoy editing, so it doesn't bother me. It's fun! Like artwork! I like running CoffeeShop's Perfect Portrait Action on closeup shots. 
  • So the next thing I only do sometimes if I really have the time (Who has time really?!?!) - I open PSE and go into Organizer, and view all my new edits in there, then I might even choose to watermark and "Save for the Web" at 840px width so it fits nicely in my blog. Once I save for the web, I add "web" onto the end of the file name so I can find it easily when I need to.

What a pain right? Believe it or not, it goes really fast once you are in a groove. I know there are probably other 'better' and easier ways to do what I do, but it works for me. I used to create a New "Catalog" each time I imported photos into Lightroom - but since I'm not a pro and don't need to categorize by client, I did not find that necessary. There are sooo many uses for Lightroom that I have no need for or have not explored yet... but I sure love the potential!

Lightroom Presets... 
I like the presets that come with Lightroom but there is not much offered for color presets by default. It's mostly B&W adjustments. So, I went searching on some of my favorite photo sites and blogs - and I found some cool stuff. Here are some links below to a few of my favorite Lightroom Presets - They are easy to load up and enjoy start using right away. The nice thing is, you can 'click once' and dramatically change a picture. If you're not sure how to load presets in Lightroom - Go HERE for a quick guide for both Mac and Windows.

Wonderland Presets - There are a few fabulous presets in here that I use often - Alice's Less Bright dress, Boon Doggle 2, True Colors, A-Game2, and Sepia Chic.

On One Perfect Presets - These are a really huge collection of creative presets.

MCP Free Lightroom Presets - This is a nice collection of presets with a convenient "Reset" all button for mistakes.

Here are a few Before & Afters using Lightroom Presets so you can see how cool a few of these are. They are of course not for every photo - but they sure can enhance and "fun-up" some otherwise drab shots. Check it out.

This day at the beach was very dreary and slightly rainy at times- Lot's of dark grey clouds. 
This was the SOOC shot ... kind of dreary - not what I was going for. 

I adjusted it in Lightroom using The Preset called "A-Game 2" - it gave it some life and made it look a little sunny & deeper. (along with a slight crop). This preset is part of the Wonderland presets 'free' download. 

This was taken on the same day, walking on the boardwalk... what a dark & cruddy day. This is SOOC. 

I applied the "BoonDoggle 2" Preset and now it's super dramatic. This is part of the Wonderland Presets too. I like that the clouds look so eery and make it look like a bad storm is brewing.  This is a nice preset to use on outdoor grey days to add some depth and drama to it. 

This is SOOC - who can resist super cute pigges running & frolicking together?

I felt that these piggies needed some Ooomph. Some depth. I like dark, what can I say? Maybe my personality? This was the "Dark Horse" preset from the same Wonderland Presets

Do you use Lightroom? What about Presets, do you use those? 
Do you have a certain workflow you use once you pull your photos off of your Memory card? 

A note about Memory cards & storage...
I have 2 memory cards; 32gb and 16gb which can get filled up fast if you don't stay on top of  pulling your photos off, especially since I have 1 JPG and 1 RAW for each photo I take - I shoot in "RAW & JPG" mode (roughly about 30Mb per photo with both).  Just to give you an idea how fast you can take up space on your computer, I got my Macbook at the end of March and it has a 500Gb drive. As of right now, my 'pictures' folder takes up 170Gb already. I usually go back and remove the photos I don't need any longer once I back up the fixed ones, but I haven't gone through and deleted anything yet because I'm out of space on my current external drive. Oyy! That is my next purchase- I need a 2Tb drive for backing up photos.  It never ends does it? Storage is a WHOLE other topic which is for another day.

If you never shot in RAW & JPG combined or not sure about it, here is my post on it which might be worth reading if you have time - CLICK HERE TO GO TO 'RAW VS. JPG'! 

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