I’ve had a few readers ask to see the steps I take when working with an image and the before/after, so I thought I’d set aside Tuesdays to provide a photography tip. The first one will be on presets.
The above image is the original photo of Peppermint, taken with a Sony A7 and 35mm f2.8 lens. My settings were ISO 320 with an exposure of 1/320 at f4. It was an overcast day, so nice for a portrait because there were no harsh shadows. I chose f4 to insure that I had her full face in focus. Using f2.8 would have created a blurrier background, but sometimes I’ve found with animals I might not get the eye and nose in focus with such a shallow depth of field. I use f4 quite often when taking portraits of dogs and horses.
Because this lower point of view accentuated her rather robust belly, I knew like most any female she would prefer I crop in to focus on her adorable face! Also, since this image lacks color and has a cool feel, I decided to experiment with presets to bring in some warmth. After all, she’s a really sweet dog and loves to cuddle, so the cool feeling doesn’t really go with her character 🙂
Following a few basic edits in Lightroom, including cropping, a bump up in exposure (about 1/3 of a stop) and lens profile corrections, I decided to remove the burrs on the fur around her face. Lightroom has a very easy way to do this with the spot removal tool. When you click on the burr, Lightroom finds an area similar to the area and clones or heals it, depending on your settings.
I’ve collected close to 100 presets for Lightroom over the past couple of years from various photographers, but because I’d just purchased some new ones from Trey Ratcliff I decided to focus on those. The beauty of using presets is that you can keep them as they are with just one click, or you can play with the many tools and sliders to customize the look for each image.
I had Lightroom for a few years before I started to add presets. At first I thought they were a waste of money since I was just buying someone else’s settings. Surely, I could make my own presets! But then I realized that everyone has different editing skills and artistic visions, and sometimes you can learn a lot through seeing what someone else does, especially if it’s something you would never do. I have a more realistic style, so experimenting with presets outside my comfort zone helps me loosen up my style.
Some presets are super crazy, and I’ll click one on and just shake my head. But then maybe a few weeks later I’ll be editing a photo and go back to it, and that preset will turn out to be a perfect match with some minor adjustments.
For more information on using presets in Lightroom, Trey has some excellent videos over at his Stuck In Customs website I would recommend.