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:
One thing I love about landscape photography is the challenge that comes with trying to capture a particular moment in quickly changing conditions. An example that I’m sure some people reading this post can relate to is when photographing the sea, you see a rock ledge and think to yourself, some water falling over that rock ledge would create a nice waterfall effect over the rocks (similar to the image to the right). But as we’re all too familiar, that wave creating that nice effect seems to never come and if it does, it’s all too late and the nice sunset colour has disappeared. This is where shutter stacking different exposure times comes in as a useful trick to have in your workflow when you’re out shooting in variable conditions and know you’re about to miss the timing on what you’ve envisaged in your head.
For the purpose of this article I’ll be looking at how you can stack multiple frames in changing light conditions but the effect can also be used to reduce noise in long exposure images by capturing multiple long exposures (i.e. 10 x 30 second exposures rather than a 5 minute exposure) to reduce noise in your image.
Generally when using this technique it really slows down my shooting process as I’m setting my camera up for one photo rather than running around like a mad man trying to get as many angles of the sunset as possible. So there’s a few things I’ll do as I’m taking my one photo which I’ll look to break down. If we consider the image to the right with the water rushing over the rock ledge as an example, let’s look at my process for this shot:
Focus on composition – Find an interesting composition. In this case, I’ve noticed the water flowing over the rocks could come up nice with a long exposure. Oh what? The swell has dropped out and I’m about to miss the nice colour in the sky. That’s ok, I’ll capture multiple images and combine in Photoshop later using shutter stacking.
Double check everything – Take some test photos to make sure everything is lined up. At this point I’ll double check what the swell is doing in case my gear is exposed (I’m hardcore but not swimming in the ocean and losing my gear hardcore)
Capture your base image – With my camera firmly in position and I’m feeling confident that I’m not going to get swept out to sea, I take a photo of the scene. This image is to capture the sunset in all its glory which will form my base image.
Capture the moment you’ve been waiting for – Now I wait for that wave to come through to create the waterfall effect over the rocks and complete the shot. It goes without saying but keep your camera as steady as you can to avoid any misalignment when you got to mask the image later in Photoshop. Generally for this style of shot I’ll aim for a long exposure of around o.5″ of a second all the way to 2 seconds.
Stack the images – Open the two images in Photoshop and use the layer mask tool to introduce the wave motion to my base sunset image (as roughly shown in the video below)
Let’s take a look at how the images are combined in Photoshop with this quick video I put together. The technique relies heavily on layer masking the second exposure. If layer masking isn’t something you’re familiar with then give a previous post on layer masking exposures a read or watch one of the many YouTube videos available which will quickly bring you up to speed.
For this video I tried to keep things short (as you can probably tell by my quick and dirty layer masking) but occasionally if there’s not much movement in the water I’ll shutter stack 3-4 images to exaggerate the movement of the water. The purists reading this are no doubt rolling their eyes but if the tools are available then why not make the most of them.
Thanks for reading and watching. If you have any questions about this technique feel free to contact me directly as I’d be happy to help!
This is quite an old photo taken back in December 2010 at one of my favourite places in Tasmania, St Helens. A place I spent a lot of time as a kid and close to the beautiful Bay of Fires. St Helens is a beautiful part of the state and if you’re ever visiting, I’d put it high up in the list of places to go. It has some beautiful waterfalls, seascapes and is just a great little town.
This photograph was edited using just Adobe Lightroom. Occasionally I’ll edit 70% of my image in Lightroom and then do some remaining changes (curves, colour correction and sharpening) in Photoshop but for this image it was all Lightroom. I really love how far Lightroom has come. Originally when it was first released I was reluctant but it has made so much progress in recent years and reduces Photoshop from my workflow less and less as new releases come about. I’m excited by what is yet to come.
Capturing the Image
The photo was captured during the day with a 50 second exposure at F/8 using a Canon 5d Mark II, Canon 17-40, Cokin Z-Pro graduated neutral density filter, B+W 110 ND, tripod and control. In case you’re not familiar with day time long exposures, I’ve got a small post on my blog about daytime long exposures which goes into detail on how it works and the equipment needed. I love the way long exposures can transform a scene by smoothening the water or clouds of a scene.
For this image, I used a neutral density filter and graduated neutral density filter (for the sky) to smoothen the water and clouds to give a minimalist feel.The clouds were quite patchy and thanks to the wind, I was able to use the long exposure to subtly blur them and give them this look.
Post processing this image was heavily geared around playing with the split toning feature of Adobe Lightroom to introduce a cold feel to the image. I went into quite a bit of detail in an earlier post about Lightroom’s Split Toning which may be of interest to those not familiar with it. Through using the split toning feature, you are able to introduce a tone to either your shadows or highlights. It’s really handy and I’ll often use it to add a subtle hint of a colour to either my shadows or highlights. Often I’ll add a very subtle yellow/orange to my highlights to give a warmer feel to the image.
Once the split toning was applied, I made some subtle adjustments to curves, boosting the shadows ever slightly, adjusting the saturation and clarity of the image.
And that is how my self portrait at St Helen’s was captured and post processed. I hope this post was useful 🙂
As always If you have any questions or comments feel free to leave a comment or drop an email. Always happy to help or chat 🙂
Transparency in photography is something I’m big on. Some photographers like to keep their techniques and tricks to themselves while others are a little more open and happy to discuss. I fall into the later group and am big on sharing with others. For me, sharing technique makes a good way of starting the conversation about how I personally do something which then allows for others to chime in with their opinion on how they approach it or do it slightly differently. Plus I can’t help but feel that being secretive wins you no friends in a digital world where it’s important to make connections with others.
On the particular night it was a beautiful clear evening providing a great view of the stars. I was hoping to combine the two with the stars filling the top half of the frame and a steel wool long exposure at the bottom. Unfortunately after much effort it just wasn’t happening. One would over or under expose the other. It was a nightmare. Instead I opted to bracket two frames. Something I don’t normally do as my Photoshop skills could be best described as awful. So I took a frame of the stars and then another of the steel wool. Ric stood underneath an umbrella while Michael waved steel wool from above. It worked out great even if it did burn a few holes in his jumper… Oops.
So to get started let’s look at the two before images which are captured straight out of camera and then the final image which shows both images combined. It may not be to everyone’s tastes but at the time of shooting was how I envisaged the final image to look.
I’ve re-created the processing used for the image in a video below. Feel free to watch as it shows the edits I made in Lightroom and then the edits made to combine the two images in Photoshop. But for those unable to watch the video I’ll do my best to explain the steps taken to get the final image below.
Where possible I try to make 99% of my edits within Lightroom leaving only minor edits that I’m unable to make in Lightroom for Photoshop. The editing process within Lightroom included the following edits:
Both images had the tint heavily increased towards the pink end of the spectrum
Purple split toning was applied to the highlights of the steel wool image
Tighter crop of the steel wool was used due to there being too much wasted space which wasn’t needed for the blend
Hue adjustments made to the colours of the stars to bring out some feint blue
Curves adjustments made to both images (increase in lights & highlights with a decrease in shadows)
Hue saturation adjustments to the steel wool to tinker with the colour of the pink slightly
Adjustment brush used to under expose the land area of the star photo. This was mostly due to this part of the image being quite grainy and I thought by making it darker would allow for it to blend easier
Another adjustment brush was used for the steel wool photo to slightly bring down the highlights on the steel wool
Both images were exported
Both images were loaded into Photoshop with the steel wool exposure being overlaid to the star photograph. At this stage I positioned the photo in an ideal place and began to use the free transform tool to play around with the size and positioning of the photo. I aimed to have the person situated a little below the horizon.
Once the image was placed at a good level I created a layer mask on the steel wool image to subtly combine the image with the star image. After this there wasn’t much adjustments needed other than dodge/burning around certain areas, pro contrast from Nik Soft applied and USM sharpening used to sharpen the final image.
For more information and to watch the process live see the video below for more information –
I hope this little Photoshop and Lightroom tutorial was of use for you. Apologies that the video is a little rushed but feel free to drop a line if you have any feedback or have any questions about the techniques used in the clip.
Split toning has become quite popular thanks to Adobe Lightroom making it easy for photographers to experiment and add duo-tone sepia and film effects to their photographs. But split toning isn’t anything new and actually dates back to the late 1800’s. The technique was used by photographers including Ansel Adams to add a colour to either the highlights or shadows to a black and white photograph (as they were at the time). Ansel would occasionally add a very subtle purple to the shadows of his stunning photographs.
Since the days of Ansel Adams using split toning the technique has evolved and we now use it slightly different to in the past. That’s not to say it can’t still be used like it traditionally was but as photography has evolved as have the way techniques are used. Photographers are now using split toning on the shadows and highlights of their images to recreate film effects like cross processing or adding a duo-tone like effect to their image. It’s a feature of Lightroom that I love to tinker with when editing my photographs and I’d been meaning to write a blog post about it for sometime now after making a YouTube tutorial on split toning last year.
What is split toning and how does it work?
Basically split toning involves adding a colour to either the shadows or highlights part of an image. One favourite of mine is adding a yellow to the highlights to give the image a warm feel. While other times I like to add a blue to the shadows to give the image a cold feel. If you’re going for a warm or cold look to your image this can sometimes be achieved by adjusting the temperature of the image. Personally, I prefer the control which split toning provides but you can also adjust the temperature for a similar effect
For photographers using Lightroom the split toning feature can be accessed by opening the Develop tab and located fifth menu down from the right. Once open you will be presented with two different options: Highlights and Shadows. Start by selecting the little box that appears next to Highlights and select the blue box (see below). Now do the same for the Shadows but this time select the yellow looking box.
From this point I start to gradually change the hues of both the Highlights and Shadows, adjust the saturation of both and slightly play with the balance until at a level I’m happy with. There’s no perfect formula that will work all the time for images so I find the best thing to do is to play until you get the results you desire. If this isn’t making much sense then give my video split toning tutorial I uploaded to YouTube last year a look which explains the process better.
Let’s start to look at some images and the split toning settings that were used to give you an idea of how I’ve used split toning in the past –
Adding Split Toning to Black and White Photographs
Another reason I love split toning is the subtle tones you can add to a black and white image. My favourite is adding either a very subtle blue into the highlights to almost give a duo tone feel to the image. For this image I processed as normal and then dropped the saturation completely to make the image black and white then opened the split toning and added a slight blue to the highlights. It’s a neat little trick and something I’ve got into a habit of adding when going for a black and white feel to my images but adding something a little different on top.
Split Toning Lightroom Presets
Or if you’re feeling slightly lazy and would rather all of this to happen at the click of the button then my Lightroom presets might suit you best. The presets (not to be confused with an Australian band…) are heavily split toning based and at this stage offer a duotone/cold effect and a coffee/warm effect for your images. Below gives you an idea of what the two presets offer.
Feel free to click either image to download the preset.
I hope this tutorial on split toning has been useful for you. If it has I’d appreciate you share the love by using one of the share buttons to the side menu on the right.
Feel free to drop an email if you have any questions. Always happy to help 🙂