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Thoughts & Ideas

The Golden Hour + Lightroom Presets = Really Cool

The Golden Hour is a fantastic time to take pictures – the light is amazing, and you get all these wonderful colors that just don’t happen when the sun is directly above you. But say you took those fantastic pictures and did a bit more with them after the fact?

First off, I love, love, love the Hodda Blue/Yellow split tone (available for free for LightRoom here). The first six in this post all use the preset at some point in their processing (along with the usual adjustment of levels, crops, and any spot removal needed…)

These first three are insect photos that I happen to like a lot. They were taken just before the golden hour really set in, so in reality everything was nice and green --- using the preset here happened to isolate the subject better by turning the green into a more “purple” background. It also gave the images a look not typically seen in nature photography – wherein the colors here aren’t really representative of the real thing.

The images above were taken just prior to the golden hour; the ones that follow were taken right in the midst. Here the split toning makes for some striking images:

The image below didn’t use the blue/yellow preset. Instead it used a lot of presets (including: WOW Gradient P09, Focus > Snow Detail, and Blue/Red Cross), but I like the effect:

And for the final image – sunset with silhouette trees, the image was spectacular without any processing. In fact, I almost let it go online without any processing. And then I got to playing, and when I used the ADB AGFA Cross Process preset, along with some vignettes, and some additional saturation / vibrance adjustments, this came out. I’m in love:

My last post on this blog was about the golden hour, so this makes two in a row about that subject. But it is an important time of day – the colors are just so gorgeous. But even though the image might be perfect before you do any real work on it, don’t let it stop you from trying things out. You might just find an effect you really, really like (like I did).

So, if you have Lightroom, and like to play with presets, here are some great sites to get you going:

Technical Note: all the above except the last image were taken with the Canon EF 24-70mm L USM lens + UV Filter + Circular Polarizer. The final image was taken using the Canon EF 70-200mm L USM IS lens + UV Filter. Neither lens is cheap, but if you shoot Canon and can get either one of these lenses, you won’t regret it. Aside from being great to build arm strength, they deliver fantastic image quality and ease of use. That said, you can get great image quality with less expensive lenses – so don’t let lens-lust stop you.

Oh, and one more final note – if you don’t have a polarizing filter yet, get one. UV filters can be of questionable value, but a polarizer can do things to colors and reflections that would be hard (if not impossible) to duplicate in Photoshop. You can lose 1 – 2 stops of light when using them, but the results are well worth it. (Just don’t get the cheapie $15 ones. Get something that’s in the $50+ range.)

So – until next time, keep writing with light… (especially the golden kind!)

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