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Posts tagged “Lightroom

HOW TO USE LIGHTROOM’S PRINT TEMPLATES TO DISPLAY YOUR IMAGES

Images of Maui from a HelicopterThis week I thought I would discuss using the built-in templates in the Print module of Lightroom. They can be a little tricky. I listened to some videos recently from Lynda.com by Julianne Kost called Introduction to Photo Compositing. She used a Lightroom Print module diptych template for her images before saving them as JPEG files in the Print To field. I just sort of improvised and used a canned LR default called Custom 2 over 1 in the Template Browser, which is an example of a Custom Package Layout Style. Then adjusted each image cell to fit the image selected in the Filmstrip at the bottom. The low original coastline image was more square than that shown – just used Photoshop’s Content-Aware Scale to stretch it out while protecting the coastline. The background in the template was a beach texture created in Corel Painter with some grunge brush strokes added on top – had to select the white border and remove it before adding the texture. The Maui images above were all processed using similar filters – the now free Nik Silver Efex Pro 2 set to Luminosity blend mode and then Topaz (see website link at my Tidbits Blog sidebar) ReStyle. Pretty simple workflow.

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Image of three Florida birdsHere is another image LR template showing my painted birds that used a rather unique set up for presenting your photos. I don’t know why, but I like the vertical strip look. In PS, a different texture was used for this background. Again, selected the white border and added a layer mask. Then applied the mask to just leave the images that can then be placed above the texture layer.

Now for the Layout Style template issue! I find these print module templates not as easy to use as it should be. After playing around with the two templates shown above, I have learned that there are differences between each style and how you load the images. Here are some issues to be aware of:

  • Sometimes the images are not in the same folders. If this happens a temporary new collection needs to be created so all the images appear in the filmstrip together. The Quick Collection does not work, must be in a created one. The Filmstrip is how you add the images to your templates so this is a necessary step. You can remove the collection when you are done printing or saving the final image as a JPEG.
  • A lot depends on whether you are using a Single Image/Contact Sheet template or a Custom Package. Depending on which one is being used determines how the images can be added to the template. If you cannot drag images in individually from the filmstrip, the template is a Single Image/Contact Sheet template. More on this below.
  • Unfortunately, the size of the images cannot be increased or reduced to adjust inside the cells – in other words no Free Transform to adjust image in cell – the aspect ratio is set. The work around would be in the Develop module to create a Virtual Copy of the size or part of image you would like to use and then select it in the Filmstrip using the Print Module.

For Single Image/Contact Sheet templates, the limitation is that the images can only be added based upon the order of the images in the Filmstrip – must select all of the images at once in the Filmstrip to add. Therefore, if you do not like the order, you will have to rename the images to set the order. When using this type of template, the images can be adjusted inside the the individual image cells by just dragging inside them. The Zoom to Fit can be checked to make it fit the cell, but the size cannot be adjusted otherwise. Press CTRL+click on the image to deselect image to remove from template.

For Custom Package templates, the images can be dragged into any cell and in any order. If a template will not let you add another image, that means a Single Image/Contact Sheet Layout Style template has been selected. Unfortunately there are not as many options to create a template when the Custom Package  is selected. There are no Layout Margin or Cell Spacing cells so all the image cells have to be lined up using the Rulers checkbox in the Rulers, Grid & Guides section. This can be tedious to do, but worth the time so that the images can be added in any order. Start with Cells section and press the Clear Layout button – then Add to Package and click the 2 X 2.5 button, then start adjusting the size of the cell to taste by dragging the sides or corners. To adjust the image position inside the cells, must CTRL+drag on image or else the actual photo cell moves. To delete a cell, just press the BACKSPACE key. To duplicate a cell, press ALT+drag to it to a new position. If

Below you can see the difference between the two major Layout Styles. Luckily in this case you can get very similar results, but it is harder to set up the Custom Package style. The top screen shot used a Custom Package layout and the bottom one used the Single Image/Contact Sheet layout. If you would like to see the preset settings more clearly, click on each image to see settings in Flickr:

Screenshot of a Single Image/Contact Sheet for 3 Tall preset

Image of a 3-Tall Custom Package preset After images are lined correctly, go to the Print Job and change Print to: from Printer to JPEG File. The image can then be brought into Photoshop where the background can be changed and text added. Pretty easy at this point.

In my Showing Off Your Images with Lightroom blog a while back, there are several more examples of using LR templates. For more info on how to create your own Print Template presets, Scott Kelby did a really nice job in his Adobe Photoshop Lightroom (any version) Book for Digital Photographers, “Creating Custom Layouts Any Way You Want Them” chapter. Here he goes into more detail on how to make several different creative effects using the Custom Package layout style. This module has not changed since Lightroom 3 at the time of this blog. I really like templates. It is too bad it is so confusing as to how to get these nice effects. I am surprised Adobe has not updated the Print module to incorporate some easier ways to add photos and adjust them. Hopefully that will be part of the next update. Anyway, it was a lot of fun creating some different ways to show my images. Have a good week…..Digital Lady Syd


My Favorite Adobe Lightroom 5 Features

In honor of the new Beta version of Lightroom 5 recently released, I decided to do a little Lightroom blog this week. The image above was taken from a train on the way to St. Andrews – what beautiful and dramatic landscapes they have in Scotland! Everything was done in Lightroom 5 except for one little plant distraction that I could have used the updated Clone Brush in Lightroom to fix, but I just can’t seem to get the results I like. Otherwise, this image showcases the new Radial Filter (which I love!). Now I always go to the Lens Corrections section and check Enable Profile Correction and Remove Chromatic Aberration, and press the Auto button to make sure my image is straight. Then cropping is next. One of the Punchy Sunset presets from David duChemin’s Lightroom 4 Presets Package was applied first as a starting point. Adjusted the exposure slider before going into the Radial Filter. A large oval vignette was dragged out in the in the image and only the Exposure slider was adjusted darker just a little. An Adjustment brush was used to sharpen the houses up on the hillside. Then in the HSL section, the clouds were given a little extra pop by adjusting the blues in the Luminance slider area. The Graduated Filter was pulled down a little from the Lightroom preset that was applied. That was about all there was to it. Really loved the results without too much overall manipulation. This is why I love Lightroom!
…..This image is of some Ostica African Daisies that I planted in my front yard. This image used some Photoshop adjusting to get this look, but I wanted to show how nice Lightroom turned this image into a really good black and white with just a preset applied. It is a good example of an image I would never have tried as a black and white effect, but I recently downloaded this really interesting free Lightroom preset called RM4 Black and White 2. Just applied the preset and did a slight sharpening of the daisy centers. In Photoshop, Topaz (for website link see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) Detail 3  was used to sharpen up the whole image – this is often my first step in Photoshop. On a New Layer a little background clean up was done to make it a nice even black. Next a Darken Layer was created to emphasize the dark lines in the petals (see my The Best Dodging and Burning Technique! blog). Next I did some paint clean up of some of the light shadows on the petals (see my Getting Rid of Those Blown Out Areas in Your Image blog). On a New Layer applied Kim Klassen Cafe‘s Dream Brush Set-kkdreamstamp brush (can find these goodies if you join her Test Kitchen), but a text layer could have been created using a grunge-look font. Kim Klassen’s Archived Set Way Black Frame was used as a frame and turned into a frame overlay by following my How to Create Personal Overlays for Your Images blog.
…..These flowers are actually bright pink Magellan Zinnias with beautiful bright yellow centers. The preset applied was Lightroom’s Black and White Look 3. Then an adjustment brush was used to paint in the different colors on the flowers – created three different areas, one for each color. Last the new Radial Filter was used to add focus to the blue flower, and a little to the purple and yellow flowers. Then the image was taken into Photoshop. A little clean up was done, Kim Klassen’s Cloth & Paper Texture Anne was applied setting the layer to Soft Light at 40%, and finally a Curves Adjustment Layer was applied to add back a little contrast. An OnOne PhotoFrame acid burn controller 15 frame (no long available unfortunately – one of the best frame programs around) was added and a Vibrance Adjustment Layer was used to bright up the colors just a little (Vibrance +21 and Saturation +31). That was it! Lightroom did a pretty good job of colorizing the black and white conversion.
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There are several new features in the new Lightroom 5 release and to be honest, I have not even tried most of them. I will definitely upgrade due to just a couple things I really like about the program (and I am not getting into a Cloud discussion since I am on the fence about this one). There were two things that got my attention right away: the new Radial Filter (which was used on the flowers above) which can be applied very subtly,  with different parameters, and as many times as you want; and the Upright Adjustment button – now no need to have crooked images ever again. In the Lens Correction section just click the Auto adjustment button, and then go to the Crop Tool to finish it up. It is fabulous and I use it on every image I process. There are some other changes I will probably use like the Slideshow module now can have both still and videos in your slideshows. The Cloning/Healing Brush has been updated but I still struggle getting nice results – still like Photoshop for clean up issues. It does a great job on little spots but more difficult when trying to adjust a larger area.

You should check out the program and see if you like Lightroom. I have used it since Lightroom 1 and have never looked back. It catalogs all my photos for me and keeps me as organized as I am ever going to be with my pictures!

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Lightroom 5′s New Upright Adjustments Section
How to Use Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) or Lightroom 4 Quickly
New Lightroom and Photoshop 32-bit Processing Capability
Showing Off Your Images with Lightroom
Great Free Plug-in for Lightroom – The Fader!


Digital Lady Syd’s Artistic Flair!

This week I am just doing a post for the above image only – it took a long time to complete and I thought I would go over the workflow I used to create this rather current look. I have seen very similar images of  famous cities around the world in large poster format. This is an image of the street outside the London Bridge Station in Southwark, London (Boroughs High Street). I took this shot, without getting run over for some reason, during a Scott Kelby PhotoWalk where I joined a British group. It was a total blast and if you have not participated in his PhotoWalks, it is definitely worth the time – great way to meet local fellow photographers and it is free. Below is the original image – I thought you might find that interesting. Not an image that would normally catch my eye.
So how do you get the final image effect? The original image was a good choice for starters since street scenes lend themselves nicely for this look – this particular image has lots of color and detail in it before doing anything to it. Lightroom 5 was used to do a couple things. In the Lens Correction section the new Upright function using the Auto button was first selected. This straightened the image up instantly. The next important thing to do was the crop. After that was done, just minor tone adjustments were made before it made its way into Photoshop. I am finding I use the Auto Upright button on almost all my images now. (See my Tidbits Blog Lightroom 5′s New Upright Adjustments Section.)

I decided I wanted a painterly look so the first place I went was to Topaz (see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for website link) Simplify 4 – this filter gives so many options and presets to try out different looks on your images. Here is what I did to get the image below. In Simplify the Oil Painting B&W preset was applied with the overall transparency set to 0.15 – the opacity of the Simplify layer was reduced to 69%. A white layer mask was added to bring back the detail to all the people’s faces. One of my favorite texture people, Kim Klassen‘s Gentle Whisper texture was added on top and set to Soft Light blend mode at 35% opacity. A Curves Adjustment Layer was used next with a very slight drag down on the curve to increase the contrast a little. I thought I was done and below is what I had created. It was starting to look pretty interesting.

I came back to the image a few days later and just started playing around with it. I actually did three other iterations before I got the final look I wanted. The final image was completed by first adding several steps to the file above, then flattening and finishing up on a different file – this was mainly because the file size was getting too large to handle.

Three layers were added to the second image file using three different grunge brushes and painting different colors into different parts of the image. I used a pinkish-red color for three strips, a light tan on a few of the distant buildings, and pink for the top edge where the bridge bottom shows. It really is not too hard to experiment around and get the look you want. I did use a Burlap texture with the brush to get a nice rough edge. Just be sure you put each color on a separate New Layer so you can play with the opacity and color after the fact. Next Topaz Detail 3 was applied using the Overall Strong Detail II setting – normally I would not use that much but a black layer mask was applied and just the signs were painted back sharp. The Detail was run again to get sharper edges where I needed them. When I do this, I paint on the mask using a 60 pixel brush set to 30% opacity – in fact this brush I use all the time. A New Layer was created to paint out the license plate numbers – just sampled the solid area and painted over them. This is the end of the first file. A composite layer was created on top (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) and saved. The image below is where I am now at.

To get the final effect, the image had to be opened in Photoshop CS5 so Mike’s Kill White filter could be run from Adobe’s Pixel Bender filter which only runs on CS4 and CS5. This is one of the main reasons I have left CS5 on my computer. It is still the best filter for removing white in my opinion, and the one using Pixel Bender is better than their regular filter, which will now run on CS6-32 bit only. (Try removing the white in a layer and applying different layer styles or filters to it to get different effects.) Moving right along now, this file was opened in CS6-64 bit where I merged all but the top Kill White layer. On the Kill White layer, that shows holes were the white was, the layer style dialog was opened (double click outside thumbnail on the layer to open) and the Blend Mode was changed to Hard Light. The Blue Channels check box was turned off which popped in some nice cool gray colors that I really liked. In the Underlying Layer sliders, the black tab was split (ALT+click in the middle and pull apart) and set to 0/167 and the white tab was moved as one tab and set to 226. This adjusted the blue tone colors a little bit. The Fill Opacity was set to 55%. I still wanted more color splattered throughout the image but I did not want it to take away from the total image. A Pattern Fill Adjustment Layer (Layer -> New Fill Layer -> Pattern) was added above and several patterns were tried. I settled on one I would never have thought would work – flashtuchka-d3e5lmu floral vintage patterns using the 10flo pattern (a black, pink and white rose pattern) at 515% Scale. If you look at the upper right tones, you can see a bit of the flowers in the grunge effect. The opacity was set to 60%. Four layers were created on top using Kim Klassen’s brush 2204 from the brushes set in her Cloth and Paper Collection. Any kind of light spray textured brush would work fine. A Hue/Saturation Adjustment was added to get rid of any tones that were too yellow – it was ruining the overall effect. The Yellows Saturation was set to -74 and a black layer mask was added. Just the yellow items were painted out slightly using my 30% opacity soft round brush again. Also the faces were painted back to a more natural color. The last step involved adding a Composite layer on top and my SJ B&W Border Frame.

This may not be exactly what your taste is in art, but I hope I was able to give you some ideas on what you can do with an image by just playing. I really had no idea where it would end up, but by trying different effects, I was able to find something that is both personal to me and I would not mind hanging up in my home. I do not consider myself an artist in the strictest sense, but I do look at some of my work and feel that it does express an artistic flair that represents me, and that to me is art!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Some Beach Fun!
How to Get That Creative Painterly Look
Photo Art Compositing For Fun
Digital Lady Syd’s Photo Art Workflow


Digital Lady Syd’s Photo Art Workflow



I am constantly amazed at how some of my images turn out – not at all what I had expected. This week I am going to go through my photo art workflow step-by-step so you can see what a difference a little tweaking will do. One of my favorite image types to play with in Photoshop are shots of art works. It is a nice break from cleaning up photos of family and large travel landscapes and gives me the opportunity to be creative. This image is of a type of art I had never heard of before that is on display at my favorite local museum – the Lightner Museum in St. Augustine, Florida. These are examples of Victorian era cigar band art. The Photoshop-processed image above is my final photo art result and the one I liked the best, but there were several other choices I considered.

NOTE: If you want to see the settings used for any of the steps, just click on the image and the larger Flickr image will appear.

  • Here is the initial image as a RAW NEF file. The dishes were enclosed in a glass case and the camera settings were a 44-mm lens at F/4.8, 1/8 sec, and ISO 1250. There is a lot of light glare on the pieces. This image is not one I would normally choose to process, but I just loved the composition of the items and the colors in the cigar bands.

  • My next step was to create a Virtual Copy in Lightroom (this does not have to be done if using Adobe Camera Raw in Photoshop) to try to clean up the tone a little before going into Photoshop. Since only a few changes were done here, it does not look much different. First I go to the Lens Correction section and select the Profile tab where I set my lens info, and then the Color tab where I check Remove Chromatic Aberration (this can save a lot of time later). The next step would be to adjust the Crop of the image if it needs it – in this case it did not. Now adjust the Basic sliders. Also check out the noise in the image and try to correct if needed. Next I right click on the image in Lightroom and select “Edit In -> Edit in Adobe Photoshop CS6” which now opens up Photoshop, if it is not already open, with your image.

  • I am a big fan of combining my plug-ins until I get just the effect I like. If I do not like what results, I just delete that layer and try again. I always duplicate the background first so I know what the image looked like to start. On a really difficult image, which I considered this one to be, I usually will first open up Nik Color Efex Pro 4 – they have so many filters, you can sometimes get a great look right away. Shown below are stacked filters Tonal Contrast, which I believe is one of the best filters in this plug-in; Pro Contrast, which is one of my personal favorites, and works wonders on many of the images I have processed; and Brilliance/Warmth, one of the most popular Color Efex filters – just adds a really soft warmth to an image. Usually I like the Detail Extractor, but it really looked bad on this image due to all the glare on the items. Note that before entering the plug-in, I created a Smart Object (right click on your duplicated layer in Layer Panel and select Convert to Smart Object in menu) as Nik plug-ins work very well with Smart Objects. It allows you to go back into the plug-in and all settings and control points will still be in place so they can be readjusted easily.

  • Since there is so much glare in this image, there is only one plug-in I know of that does a good job controlling it and that is my most used plug-in, Nik Viveza 2. It will almost always improve if not remove problem areas on an image. You can see I have added 10 control points on the glare areas (click on image to see the little round circles more clearly in Flickr) to try to even out the tone. By comparing to the above, it is not perfect, but what a difference it makes! The detail and saturation of the image is also much improved. (See my blog Nik’s Viveza 2 Plug-In – A Hidden Gem!)

  • Still have issues where the glare is – it needs to be cleaned up and the pink removed since it draws your eye into the left corner and it is distorted by the glare. The Color Replacement Tool was used to turn the pink color turquoise (see settings used in Options Bar in photo and turquoise foreground color in swatch) and some cloning was done on the dish to even out the pattern where the glare blows out the detail. A Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was used to get rid of another pink hot spot. I usually try to work completely non-destructively (meaning the original image was not changed by any of the adjustments made on the layers above), but the Color Replacement Tool is destructive and changes are made on the image itself – the Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer may have been a better choice for this problem area.

  • I always add or at least try to add a Curves Adjustment Layer to adjust the contrast towards the end of my workflow. Since I thought I was almost done, it seemed appropriate to add it now. Below is what my curve looked like for this image. I usually just drag the Hand Tool (located in the upper lefthand corner of the panel) in the image to get this correct. It usually is just a subtle change but very significant. In this case I only wanted to brighten up the plate and mug where the color was located, not enhance where the glare was. The Curves Adjustment layer mask was turned black by clicking on the mask and CTRL+I to invert the color from white to black. Then a soft 30% opacity brush was set to white and used to gently paint back the areas where the I wanted additional contrast and color. This was a good point to create a composite layer that combines all the layers below into one on top by clicking (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) – this helps when the number of layers gets large as some techniques need a single layer to work correctly – this can especially be a problem with the Clone Tool.

  • At this point I thought I was getting the image to a final look. I decided I wanted sort of a vintage type edge on the image, so I used one of my very favorite textures, ShadowHouse Creations Old Photo 6. After trying several blend modes, I selected the Exclusion blend mode (which I do not use that much but worked in this case) set to 53% opacity. Still not sure it was quite what I wanted so I decided to add one of his new Assorted Mask Overlay (08) and set it to Soft Light blend mode at 100% opacity. Basically just the beautiful edges were used on both layers, and the image center was mainly painted out using black in the layer masks to keep the basic image intact. I often use the free Russell Brown Paper Texture Panel to try out and stack the various textures (the green square at the top of the icons to the left of the panels opens it up).

  • I must be done???? But then I thought, I wonder what happens if I take this image into the new Topaz photoFXlab (see sidebar for website in my Tidibits Blog). Well that proved to be a problem because I started finding all kinds of new effects I liked on this cleaned up image. The settings below were applied as a first step to the bottom layer for all the different Topaz effects tried on this image.

  • I duplicated the bottom layer in the plug-in and applied from the Effects tab a preset called Lithography by H. Hurst (Topaz used the preset from Topaz Detail) and set the layer to 65% opacity. In the Adjustment tab, the Saturation slider was set to 20. The Dodge Brush was used from the Brush tab to whiten around the pupil of the eyes of the girl on the plate using a brush strength of .10. Next the lips were slightly reddened using the Saturation brush. It was saved in the new Topaz extension .pfxl so the settings could be readjusted at a later date if needed. Clicked OK and applied to it to the image in Photoshop. At this point I did create a note to remind myself exactly what I did in the plug-in since I am still learning about the new extension. The image that resulted is shown below.

  • To be honest, I just didn’t love the final result so I decided to delete the layer where I applied the photoFXlab plug-in and start over in this plug-in. This time I decided to try out the results using the Plug-in tab and selected Topaz Adjust 5. Here I tried out one of my favorite presets I created from the French Countryside preset in the Vibrant Collection. It looked nice and more like what I wanted. I use this preset a lot when I want a nice artistic feel.

  • I decided to try one more preset just to see if I liked it and sure enough, it is the one I selected. It is in the Stylized Collection and is called Painting-Venice. I added several settings in the Finishing Touches section: Transparency – Overall Transparency slider to .7, Color – Warmth 0.03, and Tone – Quad Settings as shown on the image – the correct colors should be set already. Once out of the Adjust plug-in, in the Adjustment tab Exposure was set to 0.38, Contrast to -3 and Dynamics 24.


Well this is a good example of my workflow for a photo art image. I could have used OnOne Software’s wonderful Perfect Effects (see sidebar for website at my Tidbits Blog), or any of the other plug-ins offered by Topaz, but it just depends on what I think will work. Overall the main components are 1) process as discussed above in Lightroom, 2) take into Photoshop and do any clean up, 3) add plug-in effects, 4) add any textures if you want, 5) I always go to Viveza 2 now, 6) do any extra sharpening or noise reduction that might be required,  7) add a Curves Adjustment layer for final tone and contrast, and 8) add any framing. I hope you can see that even though a change is very small, it can be very significant to the photo, and that you can always change your mind. An image can take on such a different feel with different plug-ins and textures applied. I thought originally I wanted a very sharp almost HDR look for this image, but I ended up with a very bright painterly result. I am happy with it but it is not exactly what I had in mind when I started! …..Digital Lady Syd


When to Use Black & White or Sepia Tone on An Image


This topic has always interested me. There has been so much written on this so I am not going to go over all of it. I have found that for me a little trial-and-error works as good as anything when it comes to this type of processing. Luckily in Lightroom there are presets that will give you a quick look to see how an image will stack up as a monochrome type image, and there are many black and white presets for Photoshop’s ACR (Adobe Camera Raw) that can be downloaded. The St. Augustine, Florida lamp lights RAW file had a really bright blue background and very black wrought iron with little detail. By converting to more of a sepia tone, the detail came out very clear. The really interesting thing is that to get the detail to pop out of the ironwork, an Invert Adjustment Layer set to Soft Light Blend Mode at 92% opacity was used.
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When an image just seems overwhelmed by color and I am having trouble controlling the feel, applying a black and white conversion or introducing a slight color effect can calm down the whole image. That is what happened in the above image that was taken near the summit of the large volcano, Mauna Kea on the Big Island in Hawaii, of the Caltech Submillimeter Observatory (apparently to be dismantled in 2016) where the Keck Telescope is also located. The little observatory was lost from view in both the strong browns of the surrounding dirt and foreground gravel and the soft blues of the Mauna Loa volcano in the background and the sky. It was processed totally in Lightroom using the Basics section sliders and a preset I had created from reading David duChemin’s book Vision & Voice – Refining Your Vision in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. I call it the duChemin Massai Chocolate split-tone & vignette preset. Only those two sections of Lightroom 3 were used to create the preset so it still works with Lightroom 4. In Split Toning the Highlights Hue was set to 34 and Saturation t0 30, Shadows Hue was 0 and Saturation 6, and the Balance slider was set to -25. In the Lens Correction section’s Manual tab, the Lens Vignetting Amount slider was set to -63 and the Midpoint to 18. I have used this preset several times as it has a very nice subtle tonal appeal. That was basically all that was done to make this a much more interesting image.
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Another one of my favorite images from Hawaii but once again, the detail would have been lost if it had been processed as taken. The original RAW file had very little detail in the rising hillside and water and the color was totally dull – almost a flat-looking black and white. By converting it to a nice cool water tone, the image takes on new life. The image has several filters stacked in Nik Color Efex Pro 4: BW Conversation using Dynamic Contrast method, Photo Stylizer which give it the beautiful blue glow using Method 1 at 28% Strength, Low Key, Lighten/Darken Center, and Detail Extractor using 7 control points to selectively bring out the details in the image. Nik Viveza 2, Imagenomics Noiseware filter, and OnOne PhotoFrame were also used to complete the image.
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Here is another example of a very busy and overly bright image that really loses its appeal in color. Since it is the oldest drugstore (built in St. Augustine, Florida, in 1739) in the United States, it already has a that vintage feel to it. Therefore a sepia tone really adds to the effect the image should be portraying. This image was an HDR image taken in bright sunlight during the hottest part of the day. It was processed into a black and white using Nik Silver Efex Pro 2, the the background original was layered on top and a black layer mask was added to bring back a hint of color in the windows. Topaz Lens Effects was used to add a slight vignette effect, and finally OnOne PhotoFrame acid burn controlled 05 was added. For both Topaz and OnOne website links, see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog.
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It appears that if you have a really nice image but the colors just do not create the correct effect, or if the image gets lost in all the powerful colors or brightness of the day, give the black and white or sepia tones a shot. You do not have to have one of the mentioned filters – Photoshop has a wonderful Black and White Adjustment layer that also adds any monochrome color. Great way to get a quick impression of whether this effect will work on your image. Definitely do not write off an image just because of color issues – it may turn out to be a great shot!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
The Art Corner: Little Girl Knitting – A Mystery Sculpture!
NIK’s Champion Plug-in – Silver Efex Pro 2
Where Am I?
Topaz B&W Effects Plug-In – A Real Winner!


New Lightroom and Photoshop 32-bit Processing Capability


This new feature is taking the Photoshop world by storm! What a great new addition to Lightroom’s 4.1 upgrade. If you have Lightroom 4, you have got to try this. Matt Kloskowski, one of the NAPP Photoshop Guys, created a nice short video, A New HDR Feature in Lightroom 4.1, on how to process your images using the Merge to HDR in Photoshop, and then bringing the 32-bit tonemapped image back into Lightroom to use with the camera raw sliders. The image above is from the Hilton Waikoloa Village – some of the unusual art that is in this complex. After processing the 32-bit image using Lightroom sliders, Nik Color Efex Pro 4 was applied within Lightroom using these filters: Detail Extractor adding (+) control points on only the sculpture itself, Midnight using Neutral mode, and BiColor User Defined Preset 02 Brown/Pink and using (-) control points on the sculpture. The image was taken back into Photoshop (now as a 16-bit psd file) to add OnOne PhotoFrame acid burn controller 06 (see sidebar for website in my Tidbits Blog), which could have also been added in Lightroom. The Nik plug-in could have been added in Photoshop and a Smart Object used to save the setting – instead I created a Note in Photoshop to recall how the settings were used used in Lightroom.
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What is absolutely amazing about this addition to Lightroom is that the images are so sharp and clear with little noise especially in the skies like you get with the other HDR processes. It is totally amazing that neither of these images had any sharpening or noise reduction applied. Wow!

Here is my first attempt at creating a 32-bit image using three bracketed images hand-held of the beach on the perimeter of the Hilton Waikoloa Village – not a very good place to sunbathe but nice and breezy. No other plug-ins were applied to this photo. I was major happy how clear and sharp this image came out. The frame was created using the layer style instructions for my Digital Lady Syd’s Free Layer Style Frames – colors can be sampled from image and changed out easily.

What is happening here is that inside Lightroom you select your bracketed images, right click and Edit In – Merge to HDR. This opens up the HDR program in Photoshop where set the tonemap setting to 32-bit, not 16-bit. Next check the Remove Ghosts box. Close and if you do not have your Preferences set up in Lightroom to save your HDR’s as TIFF’s, you need to do a Save As, name file, and select TIF as your format to bring back into Lightroom. Once back in Lightroom you are free to use all the sliders available to create the look you want on the 32-bit image. The image can be taken back into Photoshop to add your framing or plug-ins if you want, where it is now back at 16-bit mode.
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I am still amazed how great these images are looking. This image is of some colorful plants at the entrance to the Lightner Museum, in the old Alcazar Hotel, St. Augustine, Florida. After processing as a 32-bit image in Photoshop and bringing back into Lightroom, the image was taken back into Photoshop and the new Topaz photoFXlab v1.1 plug-in (see sidebar for website in my Tidbits Blog) was opened and the Dynamics slider applied at 55. I also removed a very small amount of noise with Imagenomics Noiseware. This is my free Thin Double Edge layer style frame (see link above) with colors sampled from the image and that was it. This image is incredibly clear!
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My last example once again was processed in Lightroom as a 32-bit hand-held HDR. I did apply a little Nik Color Efex Pro 4 Detail Extractor to the gargoyle only to sharpen it a little. No noise reduction was applied, only my Thin Double Edge Frame layer style applied to the image. Very easy. This image was taken at Flagler College (the old Ponce de Leon Hotel) in St. Augustine, Florida.

I am going to have to go back through my old HDR images and update them. This process is totally amazing if you want a very natural HDR look. Wonderful new feature! It is a pretty easy procedure to follow and the results are definitely worth keeping!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
32-Bit HDR Using Lightroom and CS6


Showing Off Your Images with Lightroom


Thought I would keep it simple this week so here are some nice templates that can be created in Adobe Lightroom 3 and 4. This image is basically a 4-image triptych. It was a lot of fun playing with the different flower effects but I wasn’t quite sure what to do with the images after I finished them –  as it turned out, this Lightroom template created a nice way to show them off! If you have ever played around in the Print Module of Lightroom, then you can see it is not too hard to create this type of template and then save the resulting image in the Print Job section as a “Print to JPEG File.” And this is one of the reasons I like processing my images in Lightroom over just using Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) in Photoshop.

For processing of the yellow dahlias in Photoshop:
1st image: Just lightened up the image and applied two Flypaper Textures – Chatsworth Taster and Apple Blush Taster using Russel Brown Texture Panel. (See my blog Russell Brown’s Paper Texture Panel Updated!)
2nd image: Topaz Black and White Effects. See side panel of my Tidbits Blog for website link.
3rd image: Used Nik’s Color Efex Pro 4 and stacked these filters – Film Efex Vintage using Film Type 8, Colorize using Method 6 and a light blue color, and Vignette Blur using Type 3. I loved the dreamy look these filters created.
4th image: Used two different Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layers and two Curves Adjustments Layers and with their layer masks, selectively painted out areas to get the effect I wanted.

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This group of images was put together in Lightroom 3 a couple years ago – these signs are from the Jacksonville Landing along the St. Johns River in Florida during one of Scott Kelby’s PhotoWalks (if you get a chance, go do one – they are free and a great way to meet local photo types like yourself). Photoshop Guy Matt Kloskowski, who runs the Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Killer Tips website and blog (it is the best one on Lightroom you will find), offered a free Lightroom Print Preset – Multi-Photo Portrait Grid. I used it here although I had some trouble lining up all the photos the way he did since I use a Canon printer and not an Epson (it uses a page set up which makes it line up different). Still I was able to get this result which I think turned out rather nice.
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Here is another example of using the above preset from Matt to create a little different appearance. A trick to adjusting your image inside the cell once placed is to remember to hold down the CTRL key so the cursor turns into the Hand Tool. You can send unused cells to the back by right clicking in the cell. Also, it is best to create a Quick Collection of the images you think you might want to use (click the little circle in the upper right corner in the Library module) so that they are all in one place for adding to the template. All these images are from previous posts – all but the boat image were done using just Photoshop brushes creatively. (See my blogs Brushing up on Circles!, Create a Winter Scene with Photoshop Brushes and Textures and Tree Brushes and a Little Grunge.
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The instructions on how to do the above template are in Scott Kelby’s The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 Book for Digital Photographers where he takes you through the process step by step. He also shows you how to make the top template along with several others. His Lightroom books are the best!
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I did a Tidbits Blog a while back called Five Image Template Creates Beautiful Collection!  that shows another way to do this with templates in Photoshop.

Also I did a free download timeline template for Facebook a couple weeks ago that uses Photoshop to add seven photos as your header – see
Free Timeline Cover Template for Seven of Your Images. An example of how this turns out is shown below.


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Lightroom and even Photoshop makes it really fun to show off your images and both use very similar techniques. Sometimes just printing the one image does not look quite right, but putting several in a template as shown in these examples can get some really nice results…..Digital Lady Syd


Can a Pseudo HDR Image be as Good as the Real Thing? (Part Two)


Last week I used this bike picture to create an HDR image from three bracketed shots. The image above was created from just the 0 exposure to use as a basic single image to try out the other workflows (this one uses only Lightroom adjustments) and to compare with my own single image workflow. See Can a Pseudo HDR Image be as Good as the Real Thing? (Part One). This week I wanted to explore some of the vast number of workflows that give an HDR feel even though all are single exposure images, and try to decide – can a Pseudo HDR image really be as good as the real thing?

The top image used just a simple Lightroom preset (HDR Strong) furnished by Matt Kloskowski, one of the NAPP Photoshop Guys, that gives a pretty good place to start when just using Lightroom for the effect. It is a more realistic look, but still has that detail oriented feel HDR images present. (In this case, three Adjustment Brushes were used on the image: a Sharpen brush painted over just the bikes to bring out the edges cleanly; a Contrast brush to make the white wall in the background appear more gritty; and a Clarity brush painted on the closer posts and the sitting girl.) In Photoshop, a Curves Adjustment Layer was added along with the OnOne PhotoFrame (see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for website link) – that was it. I believe this gives a nice realistic look to what I saw but not exactly the HDR feel I wanted to.

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The image above used Topaz Adjust 5, one of the best and most inexpensive Photoshop plug-ins that can be bought. (See sidebar on my Tidbids Blog for website link.) That being said, I also used Topaz Detail, Topaz Simplify 3 and Nik Viveza 2 on the image. In the image below, you can see a comparison as each filter was brought into the final image. To be honest, I really liked the results even though, once again, the HDR image trumped this one for really sharp detail and color saturation.

You can see that just applying the Spicify preset in Topaz Adjust gives a pretty nice start to the pseudo HDR effect. The other plug-ins each added a little more detail and color toning. It seems logical that by trying different plug-ins together, you should be able to get some fairly good approximations to the real HDR look.

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This image used OnOne’s Perfect Effects where filters are also stacked in a similar manner as Nik’s Color Efex Pro 4. The image was processed as above in Lightroom, and then taken into Photoshop where the Perfect Effects plug-in was opened. (The following filters were stacked: Photo Filter -> Blue using a custom blue color of R16G32B136 using a Strength of 39; Movie Looks -> Faux HDR; Landscapes -> Golden Hour Enhancer using the Mask Bug to target the brickwork in top of image and Opacity set to 45%; Color & Tone -> Tonal Contrast with Shadows at 52, Highlights at 92 and Clarity 13 and Strength to 50%; and Detail -> Texture Booster with Blacks at 4.) Image was sharpened and the OnOne PhotoFrame added. This gives a very strong HDR feel but the bikes do not stand out quite as nicely against the brickwork. With a little effort this image could be adjusted  to bring it more in line with the original HDR from last week.
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This image gives the closest and cleanest approximation to the true realistic HDR look. It was created using three Lightroom virtual copies of the same image with the exposures sliders set for to 0, -2, and +1.37. Other settings were also adjusted to enhance individual areas of the image. (For example, the 0 exposure image was adjusted to bring out the midtones clearly. The -2 exposure was used to bring out the gritty appearance of the gray back wall and tree. The +1.37 exposure was used to lighten up some of the brick that was too dark and to enhance the silver and white on the bikes. They were all selected in Lightroom. By right clicking on one of the images, select Edit In -> Stack as Layers in Photoshop option in the menu. In Photoshop, they all appeared in one document as individual layers. Now Black Layer Masks could be added (ALT+Click on Layer Mask icon) to the top two layers. With a low opacity brush, carefully paint back in the areas you want exposed at the different levels.) It is a really great way to stretch the tones in an individual image without using any HDR software or third party plug-ins. Create a composite on top and do localized sharpening where needed. I learned this great technique from Harold Davis and am finding I use it a lot to really get great detail in my images. He calls this technique “Hand HDR” and it is described in his book The Photoshop Darkroom. He has a new book coming out Creating HDR Photos: The Complete Guide to HDR Photography that I am really forward to getting.

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I created several other iterations of this image with varying amounts of success. Nik’s Color Efex Pro 4 was used following a very helpful recipe presented in a short Nik blog called My Go-To Recipe for Bringing Out Details with Ellen Anon. The single image was also taken into PhotoMatix Pro and the results were pretty good. Both of these examples had to be readjusted in Camera Raw again before I liked the results. Also processing a single image in Nik’s HDR Efex Pro gives some really interesting results although not all a true HDR effect. Several different Adjustment Layers in Photoshop can help get the color and tone in the image. Experiment to find out which ones work for you.

What an advantage to have a real HDR shot for comparison. Based on this, my conclusions on the pseudo HDR look is as follows:

  • I believe it is possible to get that HDR feel with with just one image, but, and this is a big one, how good the results obtained will be depend on the image you are trying to use. Do not expect a huge landscape with a really large dynamic range to have the detail a true HDR is going to have. If the image does not have a large light to dark range, you will probably have some pretty nice results. The image in this blog has an average range of highlights and shadows, but as seen above there is still some detail missing in all the images.
  • Saturation of the colors can easily get messed up with HDR images, much less with the pseudo imaging look. All of my examples had a real problem getting that nice brick color that my original HDR image contained.  The single images required using Camera Raw processing (sometimes twice) since it is the only filter/program in Photoshop or Lightroom that handles the orange tones. Haloing can occur with the saturation shifts and then other steps need to be taken to reduce the obvious shading.
  • Sharpening is an absolute necessity if doing pseudo HDR – otherwise it just does not have that sharp detail look a real HDR has.
  • Watch the gritty look – it occurs a lot with regular HDR images. With pseudo HDR images, it seems to be even easier to get a totally over the top look if you are not careful.

There are several resources that give some great advice. Ferrell McCollough in his book Complete Guide to High Dynamic Range Digital Photography makes a great statement. “…. the choice to shoot a single image rather than an HDR image set should be based on the contrast of the scene. A low contrast scene is easily captured and tone mapped for a single image, but a medium contrast scene can go either way in terms of quality.” RC Concepcion (one of the NAPP Photoshop Guys) has a great book, The HDR Book, that covers single image HDR processing very well and has some great tips on post-processing to get the look.

After comparing all the results, I believe that my best result was with the Harold Davis workflow – it had the sharpest edges and no halos or noise developed by the stacking of the three exposure copies. It also took the longest time to complete since several layer masks had to be created to get the final look. I still like many of the other processes though – I know I will still use my Lightroom preset from last week’s blog, and both Topaz and OnOne have the potential of creating a very good fake HDR look. But this was not just about how the different workflows create the HDR look.

The real question is – is the final result as good as a true HDR. Based on my experimentation, it is not (and to be honest I am not surprised but my curiosity made me look into this). After doing a lot of research and trying many different methods on the same picture (I am tired of this image!), I don’t think any of the results were quite as good as the original tone-mapped HDR image. You can get close, and if you did not have a true HDR image to compare to, you might think several of the single image results were good enough. But bottom line, the detail, color and tonal range is just not up to true HDR standards. I decided the image I liked best is below because it is not competing at all with the original HDR look. It was created by using the Davis Workflow image and adding Topaz Adjust to it. The Curve was changed to Negative and the Adaptive Exposure, Details, and Color sections were adjusted.  The effect was then brushed off the reading girl. I love the colors – it gives a really fantasy look and the bikes show up great!

Maybe the real question is what is HDR? Is it that over-saturated look or that super-detailed look? Or is it a totally different looking image as above that is definitely an HDR look but way out there! My advice is that if you think you want an HDR look, no matter what kind, you need to bracket and take the shots. If you take 5 images, you should be able to get a nice HDR image, even if all the shots are not great. If you could only get one shot, there are some pretty easy ways to get that HDR appearance. It may take some effort to pull the final look together, but at least you got the shot the way you wanted it! Hope you enjoyed this blog and it helps you with your single image processing…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Pseudo HDR Using NIK Color Efex Pro 4
With One Good Photo – Try the Pseudo HDR Effect
Another Pseudo HDR from Me!
Another Pseudo HDR Image with NIK CEP4 – Got to Love the Effect!
Settings for Vivid Drawing Look ACR/Lightroom Preset and NIK Color Efex Pro 4 Pseudo HDR Recipe


Same Image – Different Look!

I started playing around with the small image below that was taken of the ruins at St. Andrews Cathedral in Scotland. I loved the composition and feel of the image before I ever did any adjustments to it. This image shows what it typically looks like in Scotland.

The original appears pretty flat but overall it has a lot of interest and the details are very sharp in this shot.

  • First I tried processing the image in Lightroom and applied my Vivid Drawing Look preset, a preset from a previous blog (Great Free Plug-in for Lightroom – The Fader!) and is available for download here. Then only an adjustment to the Luminance slider to get rid of a little noise and the Detail slider to add detail back to the overall image was done. (This can also be done after loading image into Photoshop by using Russell Brown’s script – see my blog called Edit Layers with ACR (Adobe Camera Raw) Script.) I also created this preset for people that use Camera Raw from Photoshop and it may be downloaded here (I just realized it has the wrong extension on the file in the Zip folder – change it to .xmp to get it to work). Just download and load into ACR using the pop-out panel in Presets tab.

I modified his technique to make it faster and I will give you a quick recap of how to do this here:

  1. Open image and duplicate the background layer.
  2. Turn off top layer (click on layer eyeball in Layers Palette to remove) and highlight the original Background layer.
  3. Create a black and white image using any method you feel gives a really contrasty high key (washed out or over-highlighted) look. He used Nik Silver Efex Pro 2 which is a great program but very expensive. I think the Black and White Adjustment Layer does a fine job and if you own Lightroom, there are many really nice Black and White presets for that program that can be downloaded for free.
  4. Make a composite of these two layers by highlighting the Adjustment Layer and going to CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E (keeps image intact so you can adjust later if need be by deleting this layer).
  5. Turn on the top layer (click where eyeball should be and it turn ons) and change blend mode to Soft Light.
  6. This may be all it needs for corrections. If not, create another composite image as in Step 4, duplicate it and set the blend mode to Screen. Add Layer Mask and paint in area to brighten up image.
  • Now this next image really changed up the feeling – it surprised me how good it looks in a monochrome. Nik Silver Efex Pro2 was used but any black and white conversion method that gives a really contrasty appearance can be used. Then a Hue/Sat Adjustment level was added and Colorize was checked. I found a really spooky inky blue color (Hue set to 242) and dropped the Saturation to 25 and this is what you get!

  • Below a totally different look was created in Lightroom and used a preset called whoiswolf_cross_retro – there are several nice free presets in this group that can be downloaded here. Only this preset and then the Luminance and Color sliders in the Noise Reduction panel were used.

  • For this next iteration, Gavin Hoey’s Blast From the Past actions set called Lomo effect Style 1 was applied to create this soft look. This is a very inexpensive set of actions that are great for creating some new effects.

  • In this image below, first the Imaging Factory’s Graduated Fog Filter was applied using a dark blue color for the foggy feel (could just use the Fogs and Mists brush set by BB Brushes to create you own effect – see my Foggy Weather! blog for more on this) ; then a Curves Adjustment Layer to get a vivid blue on top and bright green color on the ground; next a Gradient Map adjustment layer with a tan color (c4b190) to a light blue color (c2d0d8) for the gradient (try different gradients – get some really interesting results doing this) and set layer Blend Mode to Color Dodge at 82%;  a Levels Adjustment Layer to wash out the results to get more of a foggy look; added a New Layer and painted on Wycked – birds-sm brush from the Tranquility brush set (this is a fabulous set to own); and finished off with a PhotoFrame from OnOne Software (simply the best!). This image is presented to show what a very different look you can get with just a little experimentation.


  • The next picture was created using an action I created in my blog “Create Postage Stamps with Your Images” blog under Method Two called Vintage Effect from Cloudy Text Effect (here is the download link). I am presenting it here, even though it has a similar feel to other effects like the Lomo action above, because the action is free and it gives a very nice look on many types of landscape images.

    • My last image is for my son, Metal Chris at DC Heavy Metal (a great music blog with some fabulous musician photography for DC folks), who likes it when I do something different with my photos. The Mirror Filter (Kaleidoscope vertical) was applied from the Plugin Galaxy 2.0 (see my blog Instant Mirror and Quick Mirror for Photoshop for more on this great plug-in), along with the Imaging Factory’s Graduated Fog filter and a Gradient Map adjustment layer. Gives a whole new perspective to the picture.

That should about wrap up the blog for this time. I think I could just keep doing effects – this image lends itself well to that. As I have said before, if you can get a good picture in your camera, you have lots of post-processing options – the image makes the processing easy.

Hope this inspired a few people to try different effects with the same image – it is a lot of fun to see how different the image ends up!…..Digital Lady Syd