How to Gain Time Retouching Your Photos!

by | 2 years ago

I recently returned from a terrific trip to Iceland where I witnessed the most amazing landscapes. Walking on the ice and the black sand was like stepping into a piece of art. It’s a must for every photographer! In this issue’s article, I’d like to share with you a few of my favorite photos from the trip, and show how I retouched each of them in less than five minutes. 

The key to saving time in Lightroom is to use presets. I created a few simple basic presets that you can download for free by clicking here. Hopefully, you’ll find these presets useful for your own images. To install the presets, click the + icon near the top right of the Presets panel in the Develop module, and select Import Presets. Navigate to the downloaded presets, select them all, and then click Import. 

Example #1 

Here’s the first photo from Iceland taken on a beautiful beach. To capture this image, I used a long exposure, which added some nice leading lines in the water. 

Step One: In the Presets panel, hover your cursor over the name of each preset, and you’ll get a full preview of how it will affect your photo. That way, you can see what fits best before you apply it. I selected the Blue Hour preset as a good starting point for this image. 

Step Two: Now we can play around with the sliders to tailor-make the photo. Let’s move the Blacks to –31, Whites to +17, and Contrast to +58. Because the Blue Hour preset made this image a little too blue, we’ll set the Temp to 6,551, and then add some magenta by boosting the Tint to +20. 

Step Three: Next, we’re going to use the Adjustment Brush to do some wave painting. This is a cool technique because when you paint over the water, it adds nice contrast and emphasizes the leading lines even more. So, switch to the Adjustment Brush (K), boost the Exposure to 0.66, set both the Flow and Density to around 80, and paint over the white parts of the waves and some of the ice. Press K again to exit the Adjustment Brush. 

Note: The Blue Hour preset includes a couple Graduated Filters, one for darkening the sky, the other for darkening the bottom of the image. Press M to switch to the Graduated Filter, and then click on one of the pins to make it active. Now you can reposition, resize, rotate, and change the settings for each Graduated Filter to fit your own photos. 

Step Four: We’ll use the Crop Overlay tool (R) to straighten the horizon line: Just drag the Angle slider in the Crop Overlay panel and use the grid to help you align the horizon. Press Enter to commit the crop, and we’re done! 

Example #2

Here’s another photo taken at the same beach but at a different angle! 

Step One: For this photo, we’ll use the Sunset preset; the warm colors fit this scene better. [Insert PHOTO 7]

Step Two: Let’s tweak the sliders to make the photo more dynamic: Move the Blacks to –45, Whites to +6, Contrast to +32, Temp to 7,995, Tint to +44, and Clarity to +21. Now the overall photo looks interesting and still has a natural look to it. 

Step Three: As with the photo in Example 1, we’ll use the Adjustment Brush to do some more wave painting using the same settings as in the previous Step 3, and then straighten the horizon line with the Crop Overlay tool. Note: Just like the Blue Hour preset, the Sunset preset includes a couple Graduated Filters, plus a Radial Filter (Shift-M). 

Here’s the final image to give you an idea of what you can accomplish in just a few clicks! 

Example #3 

Here’s our next photo, which we’ll first convert to black-and-white. On an overcast day, try going for black-and-white when you don’t have great colors. You can get some real beauty out of bad-weather images! 

This photo features my friend Daniel Kordan standing in yet another amazing place in Iceland. (I have to apologize, but the names of these places are way too hard to spell, never mind pronounce.) 

Step One: For this image, we can use the Black & White 3 preset to add a dramatic look. 

Step Two: The overall look is already pretty cool, so all we’ll do is move the Blacks to –53, the Whites to +60, and leave everything else alone. 

Step Three: There’s already some natural dodge and burn in this photo, but in the Black & White 3 preset, some Radial Filters are included for more dodging and burning. Press Shift-M to switch to the Radial Filter, and you’ll see the various pins. You can move them around to more appropriate parts of your photo, resize them, and change their settings as needed. Note: There are also three Graduated Filters included in this preset. 

Here’s the final image. 

Example #4

Let’s take a look at one last photo. This was such an incredible view; it almost looked black-and-white in real life. 

Step One: The Basic preset seems to be the most appropriate choice for this shot. It looks a bit boring right now, but let’s use the sliders to create some magic. 

Step Two: To make the photo more interesting, lower the Exposure to –0.55 and boost the Contrast to +71. Then, set the Blacks to –59, Whites to +51, Vibrance to –10, Texture to +23, and Clarity to +26. 

Step Three: Let’s fix the horizontal line with the Crop Overlay tool, and voilá, it’s all good! 

As you can see, you don’t need to take a lot of time to retouch your photos and get great results. Have fun with presets! They can give you a great starting point to create your own style, and take you to places that you didn’t expect. I can’t wait to see the results of your own creations on the KelbyOne Community!