I can edit without presets. But I prefer to edit using presets because it helps keep my images uniform in color and processing. Even when the light changes- the same general flavor follows throughout.
a sooc (cropped)
My steps in Lightroom:
the following assumes you have already culled your sessions images and kept the best of the best and removed rejects.
1. Adjust White Balance and Exposure Slider. I personally shoot a little bright and often pull back about -.25 to -.69or so in LR with the Exposure slider. I also do this because my presets are often on the bright side, so this helps. For white balance I try to find something white or black (I seldom have grays in my images to use). I don’t trust LR to get it right. I use my eyes to judge in the end. I calibrate my monitors- if you don’t- do it. Otherwise trying to get pleasing skin tones is pointless. I sync settings as much as I can to apply these settings to my session images. Saves a TON of time.
AFTER adjusting White Balance and Reducing Exposure slider:
2. I look at the image- gauge the feel, the color, the lighting, location, clothing etc and decide where I want to go. I know my presets. I usually know which 2 or 3 I want to try on a set. After I try one- I reset using one of my preset resets (not the reset button) before trying another preset. Why? Most of my [resets] won’t reset white balance or exposure nor adjustment brush/gradient applications but WILL reset vital things like vignettes, brightness and tints. I pick the preset I want to use for the session/set.
3. I apply the preset to my images in the set/session using Sync, which is generally the fastest way.
4. Now I go image by image. Using the adjustment brush I: do eye pops, burn, dodge, selective saturation, remove red eye, whiten teeth, smooth skin, add or remove vignetting, adjust white balance (yes again). These are things I do not Sync (except the white balance- if I tweak it again I will usually reapply it via the Sync function on the images that share similar lighting).
5. I recheck my images. Do I still love them all? Need to crop a little? Tweak this or that?
6. If I am going right to a gallery for a client- I don’t go to PS. I will adjust white balance further only on images ordered. I export setting Lightroom to apply a Proof watermark, set the longest edge to 600, sharpen high for web and send to a Proof folder for that client. Images ordered get passed through Photoshop for sharpening and a final check on skin tones/white balance since it’s more precise than LR.
7. In Photoshop after Lightroom: If the images are getting posted for a tutorial, on my blog, Facebook or getting printed then I still prefer to pull them into Photoshop to check my CMYK on skin tones (and very quickly check, I simply pass the dropper across the forehead, chin and neck and glance at my numbers). For me this means: Generally keeping K at 0 in midtones, Y and M within 10 of one another with yellow equaling or being more, and C being 1/3 of Y. That’s my general check. I don’t find I usually have a lot of major skin tone issues once I get out of LR- I still sometimes find that I need to add more Reds because my Cyan is a bit high. I am not a skin tone nazi though. So if you are, this part would be picked apart more and you would likely disregard this portion. I aim for pleasing skin tones in general and I don’t always process ‘cleanly’ so skin tones won’t be perfect. I use the check to make sure I am close, use my eyes and let the rest go. In Elements- you can’t check the way we can in PS, so you may want to research another way.
ended up warming slightly in Photoshop. all else was done in Lightroom.
i went a little color happy here using [sweet color] as my base
This is my process. Which varies from Photographer- and I would hope so. We’re like snowflakes.
No two should be alike.
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