Posts Tagged ‘ Presets

Random Items: ACR presets and Customizing LIDF Presets for Your Needs

So lately I have been fielding some questions via e-mail and reading some great criticism on other blogs. All in all, I feel the response to my presets has been amazing, but in the interest of always improving, I want to say a few thing that may help clear up some common issues.

Issue 1: Over Aggressive Tone Curves

Alright, I admit some of my tone curves can be harsh when used on high contrast images. I have noticed this and I am currently revising some of the worst offenders to help alleviate the problem. Frankly, it is hard to duplicate the effect of film, as each batch is different, and every frame can differ based on condition in which the photograph was taken. If you notice your image is breaking (excessive posterization in shadows, strange artifacts, etc) I recommend you take a look at the tone curve and make a few adjustments.

If the tone curve is steep, with deep shadows and bright highlights, you may want to pull the curve back on either side, flattening out the image. You may also want to adjust the Point Curve option in the Tone Curve window down a step: from Strong to Medium, Medium to Linear. These alterations may improve your image. The primary concern in my emulation preset is the color settings, with the tone curve coming in second. Try to fix any problems using the tone curve, it may help you out more if/when you take the image into Photoshop.

If you find yourself frequently altering the tone curve of a particular preset, you may want to consider permanently altering the preset to your needs. After making your corrections, right click the preset name and select Update. Hit okay afterward, now you have made the preset your own. If you find that you get better results, email me about your alterations…you may be the extra set of eyes that helps me improve my emulation. Contact emails are on the left side of the blog.

Issue 2: Adobe Camera Raw Presets

For a while, every preset I make has an ACR preset included in the release. The ACR presets are located inside a folder in the archive entitled “ACR Presets”. Every film emulation preset on LIDF now has ACR counterparts to the Lightroom presets. Most of my style presets also have ACR counterparts.

To install the ACR presets all you have to do is copy them to the corret folder for ACR to access them. They folders are as follows:

Macintosh: /Users/UserName/Library/Application Support/Adobe/CameraRawFolder/Settings
Windows: C:\Documents and Settings\UserName\Application Data\Adobe\CameraRaw\Settings

Simply replace your current user name into the folder structure where you see UserName. These folder paths lead you right to where you need to copy the .xmp files found in the ACR Presets folder. Once you have them copied over, the next time you open ACR the presets will be available in the Preset tab in ACR (Which is the button furthest to the left under the histogram).

Alot of people were not aware how to install these presets, and if you are interested in converting Lightroom presets yourself, please refer to my post over on X-Equals. It walks you through the process, and gives more indepth direction on installing presets into ACR.

Issue 3: Non RAW Images

If you have been to LIDF lately you may have seen the poll on the top left side of the blog asking if I should make presets for raster images in Lightroom. Overwhelmingly the answer was no, but I saw enough intrest in raster images that I made a decision. I am going to start woking on Photoshop actions to accomplish much the same effect as my presets. This will likely be a way off, and the releases nowhere near as frequent as my Presets, but I plan on doing it.

I decided to forgo presetting for jpegs, as I found the results less than adequate, and I feel Photoshop is the place to make these pixelpushing changes anyways. Take away the power of RAW data and Lightroom is rendered fairly inept for my emulation purposes.

Keep an eye open, they will be coming.

Issue 4: Using My Presets

Finally, if you are using my presets and getting great results, let me know. I want to see and hear about successes. In the same right let me know about problems you encounter, feedback will help these presets improve.

If you use my presets on your own personal blog, drop me an email or a tweet on Twitter, and let me know. I love to see others work with my tools and I will happily send everyone who views this site to you to see what you have done. I enjoy showcasing those who use m presets.

If you are on Flickr and post images processed with my presets, you don’t even have to email me. Just tag you image with “LifeInDigitalFilm” or “LIDF” along with the emulation used in the description, I will find them as once a week I troll Flick looking for examples of my presets in use. If you have a number of images using my presets, I will showcase your Flickr stream just as I would a photoblog.

Maybe it is vanity, but I enjoy seeing my work paying off. Also I can see any inadequacies I did not encounter whilst testing the presets out myself. Again seeing them used can help me further refine and improve my presets.

Well thats it for today, another preset is coming tomorrow!

Until then,


Tutorial: How to convert LR presets to ACR

[This article has been rewritten and published at x=blog 01192009]

I recently stumbled upon a method by which you can import Lightroom develop presets into Adobe Camera RAW for use with Photoshop and Photoshop Elements. I’m sure someone has written this up before, but I have never seen it, as I discovered this by chance. In retrospect this seems overly obvious and many of you may know how to do this already, but if not read on.

As a die-hard Lightroom addict I personally never had the need to deal with Adobe Camera RAW. All my trips into Photoshop were initiated from the context menu inside Lightroom. However, I recently finished touching up a RAW file for a colleague and I wanted to have my edits saved with the file. Knowing she does not use Lightroom, as she is an Apple fan running Aperture, I needed to save the Lightroom edits to be rendered in Photoshop. I exported my edited file as a DNG she could open in ACR, then I hopped into Photoshop and opened said file. As I suspected all my edits were intact, they should be as ACR and Lightroom use the same RAW engine. Life was good.

However, looking at my fully edited file in ACR I realized that I could save these develop settings as a preset in ACR, opening the presets I design to a whole new audience. If you follow the steps below, you too will be able to convert any preset you use into an ACR preset.

1. Open Lightroom, and edit any RAW file in your catalog by applying the preset that you wish to convert over to ACR.

2. Once image is satisfactory, right-click (Windows) to bring up the context menu. Choose “Export” in the menu and then the “Export…” option. This brings up the export menu. Setup the export for “Files on Disk”. Choose your export location, set naming for custom name and give the file the name of the preset you are exporting. Most importantly, in the File Setting section, change the format to DNG. This will rewrap your RAW file into DNG and include any modifications currently done to the image (the applied preset).

3. You can now close Lightroom. Open up Photoshop (or Elements), and open the DNG file you just made. ACR will pop up showing your exported file with all edits intact. Take this time to run through ACR’s options and make sure everything looks right. If so, move on to the next step.

4. Now look at the ACR window. To the right, just under the histogram is the buttons controlling ACR adjustment features. Look for the one on the far right with the three sliders depicted on it. Clicking this leads to the Presets menu. Now simply click the small icon in the right corner of that window, it has 3 lines and a small arrow. It opens a menu, in which you will choose “Save Settings”.

5. This will open a dialog with all the controllable options for the preset, and is much like what you see in Lightroom when making or editing presets. Place a check by every option you want the preset to adjust. Uncheck any boxes you want the preset to leave alone. If you check “Apply auto tone adjustments” or “Apply auto grayscale mix” then the preset will override any of your Lightroom edits in those areas. I would not use it unless you know what you are doing.

6. Once done, click on “Save”. Then you are offered a Save dialog box with the filename of the DNG in the window. If you named your DNG for your preset, just click “Save”, if not change the filename and click save. Your preset is saved to the presets dialog in ACR. Open another RAW file and test it.
Now you can use your favorite Lightroom presets inside of Photoshop, or make a preset for a friend with Photoshop but no Lightroom. Let them see what they are missing.

Another benefit I have found to exporting my Lightroom preset to ACR is that I can store them on a USB drive and use them on anyone’s machine. You can copy your ACR .xmp files from this path:

C:\Documents and Settings\UserName\Application Data\Adobe\CameraRaw\Settings

Copy the .xmp files to your USB drive. You can them manually apply any preset off the drive. Just click on the menu icon in the presets tab, choose “Load settings…” and point the file browser to your usb drive. Click and go.

I hope this helps anyone who was curious as to how to carry out this process. Hope it helps you and your workflow.

Until next time,

Lightroom Film Emulation Preset Tips

Tour of Missouri – 5, originally uploaded by GrayImaging.

As I had mentioned yesterday a lot of people seem to think that these presets of mine are expected to produce film like results with one click. Although you can get excellent results from these presets with a single click, you will not properly emulate any film without some additional work. Hopefully this will guide you a bit further into using my presets for emulating the look of a film.

1: Know Lightroom’s Limitations

Okay this is right out the barn door, know what Lightroom can and cannot do. You can not emulate grain in any way, shape or form currently. Outside of shooting at a high ISO to get noise, you will have to add grain in Photoshop, Paint Shop Pro, or GIMP. I have tried to simulate the look of grain with noise reduction turned off and sharpening cranked up…it does not work. If you need grain add it in your pixel editor.

Lightroom can manipulate any RGB image, however, it will not be able to utilize all its power on a rasterized image. If you need to edit a non-RAW picture, make sure that it is at it’s highest quality. At least a 16-bit uncompressed TIFF or PSD. If it is a scan, get the highest color bit-depth and the highest resolution feasible, the more information Lightroom has to work with, the better. Whenever possible use RAW. I develop these presets assuming that they will be utilized for RAW processing. Apply them before you hop into Photoshop with an image.

Lightroom uses a unique colorspace based of Prophoto RGB. Know this when exporting. There will be color compression. Always proof your exported images. If you are doing pixel manipulations in Photoshop, I feel you should export as a PSD at highest bit-depth in the Pro-Photo colorspace. Or, you can export the file as a DNG with all your edits saved, and open that DNG in Photoshop ACR. (hint: if you use ACR alot you can save the develop settings embedded in the DNG in ACR and utilize any preset in ACR that way. Kind of making ACR versions of any preset. I will be getting to that eventually.)

The more you know about Lightroom, the better you will be able to use my, or anyone else’s presets. Read tutorials, grab a book. As NBC says “The More You Know….”

2: Watch those skin tones!

In color slide presets, often you will get horrid skin tone, especially on Caucasian skin. If they appear too red or orange, go to the color mixer and lower the Orange channel saturation until the skin tone looks correct. If you only drop the saturation until the skin looks good, it will improve the photo and alter the color response being simulated only slightly. Beware, doing this with a lot of fall colors in frame, as they will be effected. The less change required the better. If it still does not look right, hit orange luminance next, and last red saturation. Try to avoid messing with red as much as possible, especially since it is a primary color and changes will effect the simulation quite a bit.

3: Dig for artifacts.

Primarily when working with black and white presets, keep an eye out for strange halation effects and odd toning in your subject, essentially “breaking” the image. If you notice either, lower or raise the offending color channel and see if it will alleviate the problem (refer back to the original color image). If that does not fix the problem, adjust the sharpening first (you can always sharpen in Photoshop), and then look at your contrast. Sometimes excessive contrast will cause images to “break”.

4: Know what the film should look like.

If you shoot or have shot the film you know what to expect, making it easier to duplicate the look. Presets are made to give you a good starting point, and I develop these to simulate color reaction and tone curve as accurately as possible. However, film reacts differently in the real world, so know what you are looking for. If you never shot a particular film you can always google the film you wish to emulate and search flickr for images made with said film. Compare your conversion to these and make adjustments as needed. This is the best way to simulate film, if you know what you are trying to achieve, its easier to get there…the preset just started you in the direction. Keep in mind, exposure has MASSIVE effect on film, and different exposure will react differently. Two different frames of Tri-X will look different, even of the same subject, as exposure changes. Lightroom can not ever simulate the nuance of chemical reactions.

5: White balance keeps your whites whiter and brights brighter!

Use your selective white balance creatively! The white balance will change everything in an image. Experiment and find what you like, use it to warm and cool color. White balance can completely alter the toning of a monochrome image. Push it around to get what you need. If you are trying to copy the look of another photo, white balance is your best first step.

6: Split toning can cast your colors.

If your sample photo you are emulating has a slight color cast, figure out what shade it is and run down to the split toning in your develop tab and pop that color into both the highlight and shadow tones. Then set each tone to a level of saturation, I usually hit the highlight around 10 and the shadow around 20, then play with the balance until you get what you like. You can also create a duotone monochromatic image like this.

Some of my preset will have the split tone used to get a cast with the first click. Adjust the toning to suit your needs.

7: Watch your contrast and black clipping.

Any image you preset can be improved by adjusting the contrast and black clipping. Each image is different, and needs a unique approach. Even an Auto preset can get it way off. For what its worth, alter any of the Basic sliders until you get what you want. Or develop the image as it is imported until you get an exposure you like, then apply a Curve preset, applying only the color tones and curve.

8: The devil is in the details.

Don’t forget to look at the clarity, sharpening and noise reduction for an image. If a picture does not look right, often increasing clarity, adjusting sharpening and cutting noise reduction (especially luminance) can give it a quick make over.

That is it for now, so go and play around. Presets do not make the image, you do. Also, do not feel compelled to have to duplicate a film’s look. Often a single preset click can improve an image and you think it looks great…if that’s the case leave it as is. You can always say it was inspired by Kodachrome 25 (such as picture above).

Read the readme.txt files included in zip files. I often have hints specifically for that preset. Often the hints are generic and good for any preset, other times the hints apply only to the particular preset.

My presets are to help you out when you want a film look from digital. I can not encourage you enough to go out and shoot film. It causes you to look at photography differently. I carry two film bodies every day, a Minolta 7000 and a Yashica Manual SLR. I shoot them as often as I do my Canon EOS digitals. If you have to go get a five dollar point and shoot film camera, get it and a good quality film and head out for a day. A fixed focus 28 mm point and shoots loaded with Portra VC can take great pictures on a slim budget, and force yoy to only consider your composition.

Hope this helps a bit, more hints in the future.

Until next time,


Note: All sample photos I post with releases ARE 1-click applications. I do no further editing. Just click the preset, export to jpg and post to flickr.I felt I needed to clarify that, I did not want people thinking that my samples were further processed, they are there to show the presets action.