POST PROCESSING FOR NATURE PHOTOGRAPHY
High quality curated Nature Photography Lightroom & Photoshop Tutorials to take your post processing to the next level.
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Establishing a solid Lightroom workflow for nature photography can enormously reduce the amount of time you spend sorting and processing your photos. We’ve all been there. You come home from a fantastic trip with a card full of thousands of images. Now comes the daunting task of separating the wheat from the chaff. Don’t waste energy processing images that should have been passed over, or become paralyzed because the enormity of the task overwhelms you. Here are three simple Lightroom tips that are big timesavers.
Pay attention to how you develop your nature photos. There are probably adjustments that you make that are common to all your photos. So, make a custom Develop preset and apply it to all your images upon import. This is an enormous timesaver and one of my favorite Lightroom tips. For example, I routinely lift the shadows, recover some of the highlights, reduce contrast, and bump up the vibrancy slightly for nature photography. These settings are specific to my taste and my style, so starting out with a predefined preset saves me tons of time in processing.
Here’s how to develop new presets in Lightroom:
You’ll notice that your new preset now appears in the Preset panel. You can now use your preset for to streamline your nature photography workflow. To apply your new Preset to all of your photos upon import, on the Import screen in the Library module, go to the Apply During Import section on the right panel. There’s a Develop Settings pull-down menu where you can select your develop preset. Your new preset will remain the default import setting.
Culling is the toughest job for many nature photographers. It can be enormously time-consuming to determine which images to delete and which images to flag for processing. Here’s one way to do it. Create a target collection and use it to group your best nature photos in one place.
Once all your best nature photos are assigned to the collection, you can further cull these in the collection by reviewing each one and removing the weaker images. The “B” key can be used again, and in this case hitting the “B” key un-assigns an image from the collection. It’s okay to be brutal here because you are not actually deleting your photos, just removing them from the collection.
Finally, create your own system for rating your images. Lightroom has three ways to prioritize and sort images — flags, stars and colors. I’ve developed a three-star system for my nature photography. I assign one star for images that are good enough to warrant a second look. After I decide to process an image and have made further Lightroom adjustments to it, then I assign 2 stars to that image. And, finally, I upgrade the image to three stars after I’ve processed it in Photoshop. I don’t use the four or five star rating, nor do I use colors for sorting. Once I’m satisfied with the processing, I give the image a title. I put the name in the Title field for easy retrieval later.
If I need to select images for a specific project, such as an exhibit or an article, I use additional collections to group and cull further. I’m sure there are creative ways to use Lightroom’s filtering systems, so go ahead and create your own rating system.
Move quickly between the Library and Develop modules, which are the two modules where I spend most my time.
For a complete list of shortcuts, hold down the Command + / to display the keyboard shortcut for that module.
While I have developed my own lightroom editing process over the years, I’ve only covered a only three essential Lightroom tips in this article. In the comments below, feel free to share your own Lightroom tips or tricks that you have found to help speed up your Lightroom processing.
Charlotte Gibb is a contemporary fine art photographer based in the San Francisco Bay Area specializing in landscapes of the Western United States. Her images are often taken in familiar places for the well-versed landscape photographer, but she prides herself on her keen an eye toward the subtle and sometimes overlooked beauty of the natural world. Charlotte earned her Bachelor of Arts Degree from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco and has exhibited her work in several solo shows throughout California. Her darkroom, long gone now, has been replaced with digital darkroom tools, and her style has evolved from a somewhat journalistic approach, to one that pays tribute to the natural world.