Picked up a drone and still learning your way around Adobe Lightroom? Here are 6 of my Lightroom presets for drone photography to help get you started. These presets are best for drone seascape photography but can also be used for other types of drone photography. This quick guide includes tips on how to work the presets to suit your image, before and after images of the presets in action, download link for the Lightroom drone photography presetsand finally, instructions on how to install these on your Windows or Mac.
Generally I find Lightroom presets best used as a base and then fine tuned to suit your image. For some images, my presets may make your image look over-done with the highlights or colours pushed too much. Don’t be alarmed! For this reason, I’d recommend setting a preset that you like and then adjusting:
Tonal Curve – I generally use an ‘S Curve’ when editing my images which gives a strong shadow to your image while giving the highlights a pop. This may or may not work with your image so look to use the Tonal Curve section to adjust the Highlights, Lights, Darks and Shadows of your image.
Hue Saturation and Luminance (HSL) – If the colours are too overpowering for your image, look to open the HSL section in Lightroom to decrease the strength of the Hue, Saturation and Luminance of the preset.
Split Toning – This is where the real magic happens. Use the Split Toning section to either decrease or increase the strength of the split toning to the Highlights or Shadows of your image. It’s also worth playing around with the balance of the split toning where you may want the shadow split toning to be more overpowering than the highlight split toning.
Now I’m more of a visual person so now for some before and after shots of these Lightroom drone presets:
Last Thursday I spent the morning watching the weather forecast as a heavy pattern of rain made its way over Victoria and tried to find somewhere new to take photos. I can’t say I’ve ever gone and chased waterfalls during summer on a 35 degree day but I am so glad I did! I eventually decided to take a drive to Warburton and explore the area around East Warburton which is home to Warburton Creek and the beautiful redwood forest which I’ll look to share in a future post.
Walking around Warburton Creek was stunning even if I did take the wrong turn and walk the wrong way for 30 minutes or so in the scorching heat. Boy was it hot! But with that said, I eventually found some stunning little streams in Warburton to photograph and I was suddenly like a kid on Christmas day. It was the most refreshing feeling standing knee deep in water on a boiling Melbourne day. I just regret not taking some swimmers!
Without realising I was suddenly caught in the heavy showers I’d been watching in the weather forecasts in the days leading up. The rain was almost torrential at times which led to flash flooding in the area and difficult photography conditions. Unfortunately I didn’t get much of a chance to fire off many photos as the lens would quickly be saturated whenever I aimed in any direction.
With the severe weather conditions, this is what led me to photograph and process the image how I have. The plan was to take 3 images to create a vertical panorama which sort of worked. I luckily managed to get a photo off of the bottom half of the scene without any water droplets on the lens but as I slowly moved my camera upwards, a few water droplets made their way onto the camera lens. Easily avoidable if you actually stop to check your lens between shots. Oops!
Getting water drops on your lens isn’t the end of the world and just leads to some blur to parts of your image. In trying to hide the water drops, I looked to create a light burst effect through the trees. It was very much an experiment of a new technique that I’d picked up off a Phlearn video and I’d love to hear your feedback. Is it too much? Doesn’t float your boat? Let me know!
To give you more understanding to how this image was post processed I’ve put together this small clip. Hopefully it doesn’t bore you senseless but gives you more of an understanding to how the radial blur and layer masks were applied to the image. The key post processing made to the image include:
Stitching the three images in Photoshop – Quite self explanatory and more comes down to personal preference. I feel that once upon a time 3rd party tools like Ptgui owned the panorama space but now days Lightroom and Photoshop provide great offerings. I used Photoshop to stitch the three images.
Removal of distortion and levelling – Shooting with a Canon 17-40 at 17mm on a full frame body leads to some distortion being introduced to the image. I pulled this back by using the lens correction tool.
Creating light bursts – This is a mix of using the radial blur tool set to Zoom, quality set to Best and the amount set to 100. By using layer masks, I create a black layer masks (effectively disabling the radial blur) and then started to slowly re-introduce the radial blur (or light bursts) into the frame by painting over the image with the white brush. The key here was to try make the bursts look natural and coming through the trees. Once this was applied, I then looked to apply a light burst technique by Phlearn which added a nice finishing touch.
Lens flare – Wow, I haven’t touched this since I picked up Photoshop CS2 many, many years ago and was making crappy logos for my Geocities website. The intent of using the lens flare tool was to create a sense that a warm light was coming through the trees. I applied a warm photo filter over the lens flare to give a golden hour light feel to the image.
Luminosity masks – I used to be a sceptic about luminosity masks thinking they would slow my walk flow down and were people who didn’t know how to post process their images (oh how wrong I was on both fronts). Luminosity masks have been around for years and there are some great tutorials by Sean Bagshaw who explains the technique in more detail. In short though, luminosity masks allow you to make very selective changes to your darks, mids and highlights of an image. For this image, I used luminosity masks to make curves, photo filter saturation changes to small parts of the image. I love the granular control that luminosity masks give you over an image. I’m so glad I spent the time to watch Sean’s video’s and would recommend for anyone looking to further grow their post processing skills.
With fiddling back and forward I eventually ended up with the below image –
Should you have any feedback on how the image was processed or questions feel free to reach out as I’d love to hear from you. The post processing for this image might not be for everyone’s tastes and was more an experimental edit for me so I’d love to hear your feedback.
In the last few years I’ve been in awe of the work by Michael Shainblum who is just one of the many people upping the game when it comes to silky clean milky way and star photographs. I have to admit, milky way photography has never been one of my strongest points and I’ll often blame the age of my Canon 5D Mark II being limited in lowlight as an excuse to not get out and shoot milky ways. With a recent trip I was keen to challenge myself with this photograph titled Under the Stars which features me, sitting on a hammock attached to a tree wrapped in fairy lights under the milky way with a fully stoked fire keeping us warm. The end photo required a few shots at varying exposures to bring it all together which I’ll look to walk you through in this post.
Challenging your in camera and post processing techniques
On a drive from Melbourne to Perth (50 hours of driving) I was keen to explore some of the night skies in the middle of nowhere and add a couple of milky way shots to my gallery. Yes, the Canon 5D Mark II struggled at ISO 3200 but unless you’re looking close, it’s not too noticeable (well I think so anyway..!)
[box type=”info” style=”rounded”]My Melbourne to Perth roadtrip post has more photos from this trip where I explored some of the best parts of Australia[/box]
This is one of my favourite photos of the trip and is something that was just a concept I was keen to try. To be honest, I didn’t think I’d be able to pull it off in getting the right exposures and post processing it correctly but I’m pretty happy with the end result.
Coming up with a concept that’s outside your comfort zone and giving it a go is the only way to really push your development in hands on photography and post processing. There were other concepts that I toyed with while we were away and you know what? They didn’t come off. But it was fun taking them and giving them a try. Next time you’re planning a photography outing, why not set yourself a lofty goal and see how you go executing it? If you fail, you’ll learn so much on how to do it different next time. If you succeed, you’ll no doubt pick up on things you can do better next time while learning little techniques that you may not normally use in your normal post processing workflow.
[box type=”info” style=”rounded”]I recently bought a new travel tripod and compared the 5 most popular tripods on the market. Give my travel tripod guide a read if you’re looking for a lightweight tripod for your next trip![/box]
About the photograph
For this photograph, Under the Stars, we were camping in Pimba, South Australia which is basically in the middle of no where. As we were driving around the area looking for somewhere to set up our tents for the night, we found this secluded part located just off the salt lake and surrounded by this tree you see in the photo. Straight away we knew where we were camping for the night. It was perfect, silence that was almost eerie and skies that were darker than some of my brother’s music tastes in high school (really dark! Sorry Rich 😉 )
After shooting the sunset and then shooting the milky way down at the salt lake for a few more hours, we eventually headed back to our tents but were still keen to shoot for a while longer to make the most of the dark skies.
With a hammock already in the tree from some lazy beers in the sun earlier and the fire lit to warm up, we decided to pull the solar powered fairy lights out of the car which we had bought on the first day of our trip and neglected ever since. I knew they would eventually come in handy..!
[box type=”info” style=”rounded”]Interested in landscape photography? My guide to landscape photography shows you how to get started in this fun part of photography[/box]
Taking the photograph
When experimenting with an image concept I have a habit of going overboard with my image brackets. Throw in the poor performance of the Canon 5D Mark II and you have 10 bracketed images. Ok ok. I probably could have got by with less but better safe than sorry right?
There is some reasoning to my madness with the need for having 10 different images coming from:
Tree and fairy lights –With a light wind around this meant a shorter exposure of the tree and fairy lights was needed to avoid any shake. This had to be a high ISO shot to get a shorter exposure (5 sec)
Me sitting in the hammock – Trying to sit still in a hammock with no subtle movements should be an Olympic sport. Either that or I have ants in my pants. With this said, I needed a shorter exposure (2.5 sec) of me sitting in the hammock to minimise the risk of any subtle movements
Exposing for the stars behind the tree – With the plan to make this a two image panoramic (one for the scene you see in most of the frame and another for the milky way sky) it was important to bracket a shot of the stars behind the tree which would allow for a seamless alignment of the two images
Positioning the camera further up to capture the milky way – I won’t lie the milky way wasn’t directly above the tree like the photo suggests but it was close! Unfortunately it was hovering just to the right of the tree however by angling the camera up I was able to capture a frame which would later be used above three
Short burst for the fire – The plan was to capture the fire looking more natural rather than a blur of orange light. Even at ISO 25600 I wasn’t able to get an exposure short enough to get the fire how I wanted it. At ISO 25600, the Canon 5D Mark II really comes into its own with its amazing handling of noise (sarcasm intended).
Couple of extra frames for good measure – I’ve got nothing. Press the button and hope for the best for a few frames?
Bringing it all together
I’d love to tell you that I processed this with the same level of precision like Marc Adamus in the space of 10 minutes. But in reality of me being sleep deprived after driving 12 hours the day before and not really knowing what I was doing, the edit for this photo took a couple of hours or so of extreme procrastination and trial and error.
The key elements to processing this image (after we get past the trial and error):
Bringing all the concepts together with layer masks – As mentioned earlier in the post, I shot a series of frames at different ISO levels and shutter speeds to minimise noise where possible and capture specific detail (i.e. me in the hammock or the detail of the fairy lights).
Cloning out the car – Not sure when composing that I didn’t notice a small part of the car in the frame. Whoops. A quick touch over with the clone stamp tool had it removed.
Colour grading – Sorry, that sounds wanky but it also sounds like I know what I’m talking about so let’s run with it. Colour grading was selectively applied to the image using layer masks. The intent here is to control the colour to parts of the scene which may have been affected by noise. Parts of the image where these minor tweaks were applied include adjusting the blue hues in the sky and dialling back the orange glow on the sand.
Overlaying the milky way – Dropping the milky way into the shot was either going to make or break the photo. In an effort to make it look as natural as possible, I used the bracketed image with the stars as the base image of the sky. I then used the image which had the milky way with a very subtle transition through the tree using an inverse selection.
Noise reduction – Shooting at ISO 3200 and higher does leave you with some ugly noise in parts (i.e. around the dark parts of the sand where I’ve tried to pull back some detail). Fortunately Nik Collection’s free Dfine tool works wonders for the removal of noise. I don’t apply noise reduction across my whole image and prefer to just apply it selectively to parts of the image most affected. When you are applying noise reduction, you are reducing the sharpness of the image so it’s important to ensure you are only applying it where needed to minimise any loss of sharpness.
Dodging of the scene – As I was using exposures of various dynamic ranges, there wasn’t much needed in the way of dodge and burning of the scene. With only some minor dodging applied to the fairy lights to make them appear brighter and further dodging around the fire to create the flare effect you see in the final image.
To help give you a sense of how the different adjustments were made and effected the image, I’ve put together this short clip which gradually introduces the various layers to reach the final image.
[box type=”info” style=”rounded”]If you enjoyed this post, be sure to give my Before and After series a look for similar posts[/box]
Feel free to use the contact page if you have any comments or questions about this post.
Driving around Port Melbourne on a rainy Sunday with Jon Sander last winter, we stumbled across this overpass that provides a great view of one of Melbourne’s busier highways. We were fortunate that the overpass was quiet and isolated away from the traffic below making its way in and out of Melbourne.
So… The photo you see is actually a composite of three images. One image formed the base with an additional two images being used to exaggerate the amount of traffic. Sure, I could have kept the shutter open for longer but to be honest – I am slightly pedantic when it comes to these things. Sometimes it can be easier to capture the base image and snap seperate frames when you see a large lump of traffic or a truck coming. Using layer-masks makes dropping the additional traffic into the frame quite easy. Over the top? Probably.
When it came to the colour grading of the image, I wanted to keep the cold feel from the day (keeping the sky looking cold and gloomy) but wanted some warmth to parts of the image. Using layer masks and a warmer temperature, I warmed the bottom half of the image while leaving the top half of the frame with a cold feel (using a layer mask to ensure the top half remain untouched).
For the remainder of the image, I used a range of dodge and burning to:
Bring out the star effect in the lights
Lighten the surrounding buildings
Add mood to the sky
And that’s that 🙂 Apologies that this post isn’t glamorous with interesting information. It wasn’t the most complex scene or photo to edit. The only trickery here was around the multiple layers used to exaggerate the flow of traffic.
If you have any questions, be sure to comment or drop an email!
Dragon’s Head is located at Number Sixteen beach, Rye, Victoria and has been on my to do list for a while now. A few months ago, I finally got around to shooting it with an early start for a sunrise shoot. Having not been to the location before, walking out the rock ledge, dodging the little rock pools and trying to find a good angle of the ‘Dragon’s Head’ without taking an accidental swim made for a rather different but enjoyable way to start my Saturday morning.
Finding an Angle
Composing my image I clearly wanted to make the ‘Dragon’s Head’ the key part of my image. But with this in mind, I needed some other things in the photo to balance the photo out and give it my own personal touch. That’s not to say someone before me hasn’t taken the exact same photo but I needed something more than just a photo of the object. For this reason I opted to use the water cascading over the small rock ledge as a foreground element and leading line to the Dragon’s Head. Getting this angle required me to get low and a few attempts until the right surge of water came across (and a few yanks of the camera to safety.. Crisis averted luckily ;)).
In person, Dragon’s Head is actually quite small, so much so, it took me a bit of stumbling around in the dark with the head torch to actually notice it. For this reason, I really had to leverage traditional composition techniques by using a leading line, in this case, the water cascading over the rock ledge to lead the viewer to the rock. I think it worked well but I’d be keen to hear otherwise.
Shooting the Image
The photo was shot with a Canon 5D Mark II, Canon 17-40 and Cokin Z-Pro graduated filter with a 2.5 second exposure at F/16. Using the graduated neutral density filter was useful for holding back the sun rising to the left of the frame which would have otherwise created a partial highlight in the left of the frame. Through using a graduated neutral density filter for this part of the shot, this allowed me to not get any highlights in my sky while maintaining a good exposure of the bottom of the frame. I find this provides you with more of a neutral/flat look to your straight out of camera image but gives you a lot more space to work with when it comes to post processing the image.
Post Processing the Image
Working with a photo of a sunrise which doesn’t have any sharp highlights or shadows saves a lot of time when it comes to post processing. For this reason, post processing for this image of Dragon’s Head was processed in Lightroom and included:
Straightening the image
Applying a graduated neutral density filter in Lightroom to darken the sky and further bring out the sunrise colours
Using the adujstment brush to paint over the Dragon’s Head and the bottom of the frame to make both appear brighter
Simple curves adjustment over the whole image adjusting the shadows, midtones and highlights to give it a bit more of a punchy contrast
Without going overboard on an image that could have almost passed straight out of camera, that was the extent of the processing and that was that.
Thanks for reading and if you ever get a chance, be sure to visit Dragon’s Head down at Rye on the Mornington Peninsular on sunrise. A stunning place.