BeArt Product Presets for Lightroom evaluation

                                                     

A request was  received from BeArt-Presets (https://www.BeArt-Presets.com/) to evaluate the product Lightroom presets  for BeArt-Presets.

At present I create more product photographs than landscapes (it is autumn – wet and windy at present in New zealand) so this was an ideal time to work with these presets. Here with I give you my impressions of working with the product presets from Beart.

If you follow the instructions on the website on how to install the presets you should have no problems at all, smooth and easy.

There are quite a lot of presets, I was happy on how many presets there are available. For instance; there are exposure presets ranging from +2 stops to -.2 stops in conveniently placed steps.

You can also visually adjust the effect of exposure settings from 200 ISO to 6400 ISO by adding visually grain. However I am more impressed with the grain effect settings from Alien Skin, but this grain is not bad looking at 6400. So there is plenty of latitude to alter your (visual) exposure levels.

You are able to adjust the shadows with a simple click, and as a bonus you can do this locally with the BeArt brush adjustment too.

For me most of the fun actually came in the  special effects presets, where you can go from red vintage to black and white matte. There is quite a range of different settings to work with your image, improve your details for instance, contrast cross processing dramatic film, garden settings there are quite a few miscellaneous ones that have at first sight not much to do with product photography like fix blue attack! I would have thought the blue would disappear, it actually increases the blues. But after a little play with all these effects I get some really good results to fine tune my product photographs. Especially when you can have a little bit of free artistic interpretation on your product shot some of these presets are fun to work with.

You will find that these presets are quick in assisting you in correcting your exposure levels or your colour temperature, the preset name is “white balance” but that may be the wrong name for me, you can set the colour balance range from 3000 K to 6000 K in 12 steps, very handy if you want the same colour balance over a range of product shots shot at the same time. When I set the “white balance” I select an area that is should be neutral in colour.  Kelvin colour temperatures have nothing to do with white balance.

The terminology of some of the presets still baffles me a little bit, for instance when you select preset “Fix Dramatic Film 2” I get more a “Bleach Monday Morning effect”. Well that is my impression of the effect…..you may find that each photographer will have their own visual interpretation and translation of the named effects. But they are quite close in description and I like the effects they produce.

There are many presets with the prefix of number two in it, sometimes I do not know what it refers to as there are no other numbers to compare it to. For instance there is a presets called Fix Gold Tone 2 but there is no number one or three. Perhaps the developer of these presets will later introduce an update with the numbers one and three? After a bit of work with these presets you can possibly rename some of the presets to give yourself a better idea what you will achieve with that preset.

That’s how I would work with these presets, go through them, most of them are self-explanatory and do exactly what they say and the ones that are a little bit more “adventurous so to say” you can alter their name to suit your taste.

I followed the installation method number two, this way I could create a folder for each of the type of preset, for instance I’ve got now presets for ISO, white balance, exposure, instead of having one folder with all the presets lumped together.

As these presets are only a one click thing for a global adjustment, you may like to locally adjust the image with the local adjustment presets that are included with this set. You can locally adjust the sharpness, the blue colour or green tint, the noise, saturation or shadows, white background et cetera, I have not mentioned all of them. Quite a few choices are available to you which makes this total set of brushes and presets a very good tool for commercial photographers or even those people that just want to sell an item on eBay or their local trading post.

I find that using these presets is simple, quick and efficient after I have used my basic raw adjustments first. A welcome asset!b-0-weblogo

Summarising:

Cons:

installation was somehow a little problematic using method one, for some reason I did something wrong I think-but by using method two I got it right and everything installed the way I liked it.
The naming of some presets are open to different interpretations but that is easily fixed by renaming them.
Some presets have a number added to the presets description which does not make sense. Why give it a number two when there is no one or three?

Pros:

Versatile, eliminates quickly and efficiently common mistakes in lighting set up.
Extensive set of presets, it covers of wide range of possible corrections to achieve a quick correctly balanced look/effect.”

 

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My review about BeArt Lightroom Landscape presets:

A request came in from BeArt-Presets (https://www.BeArt-Presets.com/) to evaluate the Lightroom presets landscape section for BeArt-Presets.

I will not go into detail about downloading and installing these presets for Lightroom because the instructions I did receive were very explicit and accurate and so easy to follow.10 out of ten.
I am always fascinated and interested in the view of other photographers how they preview presets, after all they designing a preset to work with an unknown entity, my photograph, which they have never seen.
Upon installation the landscape preset folder of BeArt showed me all the names of the presets. And they are names of places like London, Rio de Janeiro, San Francisco, Venice, Singapore Istanbul, Queenstown et cetera.
As I just came back from Holland and had photographed some Dutch scenes I thought I apply the filter of Amsterdam for a “cool” looking image, I associated the word Amsterdam with a certain coolness meaning temperature wise, history, and kind of bland grey skies. Well I got definitely a bland grey sky but the green grass turned into a very saturated green grass. Not really what I expected to see.
I experimented with many other “city looks”. Somehow my predetermined brain worked out that when I read the word Barcelona I would get a nice warm hot image reflecting the vibrant mood of that city. Well it did warm up a little but in a retro style. Surprise – I never expected to see a black-and-white image when I selected the city Kyoto.
I associate the climate, vibes, culture, and aspects etc. with the name of the city. For me that seems a logic association. And expect a pre-conceived or visualised colour scheme.
How wrong I was in my imagination, none of the cities responded in any which way even similar to what I thought I was going to get.
All these presets with their location names have definitely very interesting and arty preset effects. Way off the traditional hackneyed approach. But in no way I can associate the given name with the preset settings that were created. 
To visualise the selected effect I just have to hover with my mouse over the preset name so the preview window in Lightroom shows the effect. Of course such a small preview is not sufficient to see in detail what is going to happen. But it is a good start.
The advantage of these presets is that they give you a guiding line, if you are changing the presets adjustments in the right direction, you can slightly alter them to make it suit your purpose (if needed). And save them as your own new preset.
Again, my gripe is with the naming and content of the presets, when I want to work my image I want a name of the preset that roughly indicates what I’m going to get. And if the presets are stackable that would even be better. My first impressions with these landscape presets are that they are kind of subtle and effective but literally all over the place.
Grouping them in a certain way, like hot, evening, morning, cool, misty or foggy, perspective haze, crystal clear, Sahara desert rippling warm vibrations with names that reflect that kind of situation would be far more beneficial for me.
If I keep these presets on my computer I will rename them, regroup them and then it may be more workable. 
At the moment the prefix name of each preset setting is: “BeArt -Travel Hong Kong”, all listed under my BeArt landscape preset folder. 
The words BeArt and travel can be replaced with more appropriate visual indicators for a more precise workflow?
The presets are subtle, not over-the-top, they are all totally adjustable so it may give you a perfect idea to start working with.
With the abundance of free presets available for download I find this landscape preset set definitely needs to adjust a few settings as described above. It – the landscape presets – is like seasoning in my soup, but just not strong enough.
My images that I used for this evaluation were middle of the road, needing definitely an adjustment but it took me a while of applying one preset, saving and applying another preset to get the look I needed, it was faster to work with normal camera raw adjustments.
Cons: 
  • Naming structure.
  • Effects need to be “stronger”?
  • Effects need to be stackable.
Pros:
  • Easy install.
  • Not expensive.
  • Definitely different! 
Visit https://www.beart-presets.com/ to see all their other presets, quite a comprehensive collection!
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Beer glass and liquids

ijtje-egg-beer-feathered-ab-17Glass and liquids are always difficult to photograph, I’ll explain to you how I did make these images.
First of all you always backlight the bottle or the liquid in order to avoid reflections on the front of the class. Sorry I should start from the beginning.
Decide on the viewpoint, work out which is the best angle and shows the product to its advantage. Are there any distinguishing marks or trademarks that should be visible? Once you have decided on the viewpoint, angle, sometimes a little above the top of the product to show the depth of the bottle or glass is preferential. If you shoot straight on it may look like a “cardboard cutout”.
Camera in position on tripod, bottle in position, now you have to direct your light source onto it from the back. I had a relatively small soft box with an opaque Perspex Cover about 90 cm behind it. If you place it too close behind the bottle the light on the left and right hand side of the bottle will be too strong. Experiment with the distance until you get a lovely line at the edge of your glass showing in black.
Aim your light meter at the Perspex soft box, of course from the position of the bottle and take that exposure as your aperture setting. Shutter speed is irrelevant because you are using flash. Make sure there are no reflective objects in front and on the left and the right of the bottle it could reflect onto the glass surface…
The little droplets on the bottle were easily produced, the bottle had been sitting in the fridge for quite a while and it was relatively warm in the studio. After about 10 minutes I had enough droplets showing.
If you want to create artificial droplets, use some glycerin mixed in water and spray that onto the bottle with a fine atomiser. You have to work out in the mixture between glycerin and water, start off with a reasonable high dilution.

This is in short my approach to a lighting setup to illustrate the photograph that you see above. I used a plug-in special effect to give the bottle a furry appearance. After all the brewery uses an ostrich and ostrich egg as their trademarks, a bit of fun.

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My new website

However

For many months I have been “bugged” or “reminded” by various web designers, either from India or local, when they are trying to drum up business, telling me that my website was old-fashioned and not Google friendly and that it was impossible for clients to find me.   Which is not correct, because weekly I got new business from and through my old website And of course that they would put me on number 1 position on the 1st Google page.   I was already on the 1st page for Google using my meta tags et cetera.  

Over the years I have been able to maintain my website that was once designed by a talented New Zealand web designer.  However I did lack the knowledge to create a website that was user-friendly for the current trend to use mobile apps.

I tried to work out a way to do it in Dreamweaver but it just didn’t work out very well.  In one of my newsletters that I receive to stay up-to-date with the various advances in technology relating to web design and photography and similar fields  there was a new software program mentioned that allowed you to build your own website from templates.

I’ve seen many of those, and most templates are too simple, and the choice to create something that is more personal and different from all the other ones is almost impossible.  99% of those free websites things I do not touch, you are not able to host it where you want to host it and the limitations to make it your own are almost overwhelming.  However this software program was delightfully different, it was created in Holland, I have to mention that because I’m Dutch too!

Dutch people almost never give anything away for free (my apologies to those who do), so I was a bit suspicious of how this system could work for me.  They apparently make their money from selling certain components to build your website in a more advanced and clever and attractive way so you can include more special aspects that are not available in the free version.

I downloaded the free version, and started working on it.  At present that is the website you can see at www.albanystudios.co.nz

It still needs refining, after all this is my 1st time I used the program and it is seemingly not too bad (in my eyes).  Over the next couple of weeks I will change a few things and as I can see the traffic from my website improving with more clients assigning me work I may be tempted to buy a few of those specialist “blocks” to build my website into a more refined and more complicated website.

I’ve got a problem that I’m a photographer and not a web designer, I’m very close to my own work of course and it is not easy to see it through “other eyes”. However, with so many years of experience in visual communications I am usually spot on in my design and layout. If you can spot a “glitch” – be my guest.
So, if you happen to read this, why not try to be those eyes?  Look at it from an impartial view, imagine you are my client and you want to give me some work to do.

My website gives you the confidence that if you give me work to be photographed you will be happy because your sales will increase or whatever desired effect my photography for you should have! If you do have a different opinion – and suggestions on how to improve it even more – you are welcome to let me know to reach an even higher standard.

I’m really pleased, it downloads very fast, on my iPhone and tablet and desktop all the images display correctly and quickly.
I have been trying to put links on each page so you can contact me from each page so you don’t need to go back all the way to the home page to send me an email or contact me.  In hindsight there are possibly too many words on it, after all it should be a visual medium so watch this space, well not this space but my website!

Anybody interested who is the maker of this software program it is within the body tag of the index HTML of my website.  Contact me if you don’t know how to get there, and don’t forget I love feedback on that site!

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Made 2 “X mas” cards

I started with this idea, the shattering of the glass meaning the vibrant “explosive” atmosphere of X mas in the sun – wel kind off.

xmas-photo-S.jpg

Well, it may seem a bit busy and I always advocate less is best, and not every body may think like me.

Hence this version below, with a few words to make sure most people would “get” it….

xmas-photo-plain Both have their merit – I do find the top one more creative but harder to understand.
If you have an opinion, please share it here?

Anyway, just bought Affinity Photo for windows, it is a fantastic alternative to Adobe CC subscription model.  My X mas present….:-)

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Understanding your client, the big why

It’s one of my first questions for my client.

It answers why he or she needs the image.

Keep asking all the “why’s” and you find out how to make the image effective.

Typical questions  are:

·    Who is your audience / viewer

·    What is your goal – sell, illustrate, tempt, explain the object or concept.

·    What is your expectation

·    What is your budget

·    Where or how do you place your image _ web, print, billboard, bus, TV etc.

·    Why did you choose me

Some clients walk in and tell me it takes only one hour to make the photos and how they want it to be made. Those clients are not for me, some one else can have this nightmare.

Some clients come with a detailed brief from their agency explaining in detail all the ins and outs of the image, and in that case my questions are superfluous. The client has already considered all possibilities and presented me with a brief that allows me to use my abilities to fulfil their requirement.

Some clients have no idea or little at all, those clients are my favourite. Based on my long experience in this industry I can give them excellent advice and make their assignment very profitable and economic.

If you get asked to make photos of objects you do not like – for instance I do not like furniture except chairs – I refuse to make those images.

You can not make the best possible images of what is not within your interest.

So do ask, but stay true to yourself.

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Sleek lens review workflow

Sleek lens offered me recently the “through the woods” presets for Lightroom.

In order to give a fair review I would like to give a little background information about myself so you know how I have evaluated this product.

 I made landscapes on my  Linhoff Technorama film camera (http://linhof.com/en/technorama-617s/), I was the first photographer in New Zealand to use this camera . As it uses transparencies on a film format of 6 x 17 cm on 120 film you have to be very careful making your photographs as it only takes four images on one film. Everything was carefully considered before making the photograph as it was imperative to get the right image on film you could not afford to take 10 or 15 images as people do now with the digital format cameras and stitch them together in a panoramic format.

Hence all my landscapes are made when the light is just perfect, everything is fine, nothing needs to be changed (photo shopped) as the transparency is the final result for my landscape image that will be printed in a book.

Now, in this digital age we can make images of landscapes when the light is not just exactly the way we wish it to be, we have so manyEdit tools available to make the photograph look good or better after capturing the scenery. Hence the abundance of perfect looking landscapes on the Internet, all the trees are gloriously lit with the perfect brightness and contrasts, water looks like you want it to look, the skies are moody or fantastic et cetera. Most of these perfect images are so perfect that I have not any interest in looking at them they are not real. Not saying all images are like that, there are exceptions. But the majority of published landscapes on the Internet are very flawless and lack emotional integrity.

Hence my reluctance using presets or any other preconceived settings to change the light or contrasts. In my workflow, I adjust the contrast, fine tune the exposure, lighten or darken certain areas and that is about it because my image is already the way I want it to look. I do not make landscapes when the light is not right, so there is no need for me to add some glorious sunlight or other shadings. Haze, and all those other things I do not need because they falsify my landscape.

However as a photographer I have those tools available to me in case if I need so I was quite interested to receive the Sleek Lens Presets for lightroom workflow for this review.

Easy to instal , and then the trouble started. The naming convention of these presets is very space consuming, the names start with “through the woods” (the name of the preset set I received) and then an indication of what it does, lighten dark and saturate et cetera. So it is a very long name with a lot of information that absolutely says nothing about the functional action of the preset itself.

I can’t recall exactly all the names but they were very long. So I renamed all these presets deleted all the ” through the woods” and other prefixes and just call them light and dark and saturate et cetera whatever the function was of the preset.

All these presets were placed in a sleek lens folder preset so I knew that I was using a sleek lens preset. I did this because when you want to find out what the sleek lens preset effect was, I had to increase the width on the left panel where the presets are presented in lightroom. Of course you can hover with your mouse or pen over the preset and the navigator will show you the effect of the preset.

Not easy for me, holding your mouse over one line of words and then looking up into the navigator panel to see what it does, that is not efficient. The same with the adjustment brush, the name of the presets from sleek lens were also far too long with too many prefixes that were absolutely not necessary, I renamed all the preset names into one word that defined the action of the preset, which was actually the last word of the preset name of sleek lens.

To test the presets out: I had a few plain landscapes that actually could do with some enhancement. When I looked at these images I knew what I wanted to add, colour, contrast, a deepening of the blue sky. It was easier for me to actually do this with my own brushes and creating my own adjustments instead of looking through all these presets to find if there was something that would do what I wanted.

Conclusion:

Pro: Excellent presets, very versatile, you could stack them, you could change them, you could save the altered one and so on. And some nice effects that possibly would not easily exist in nature.

Con: The naming convention of the presets is far too long.If you sell a tool, it has to work efficiently. Change the names of the presets.

Note:

If you make landscapes taken at a time that the light is not perfect, the scenery does not look at its best, then these presets will work very fine for you, you rummage around and you will find many delightful settings that will make your image pop like all the other thousands on the Internet. I could imagine as a wedding photographer you could very happily use these presets as you have to make images outdoors in light conditions that are not always optimal .

Many thanks to the sleek lens company for providing me with these presets for this review. Here is a link to Sleek Lens: (https://sleeklens.com/product/landscape-lightroom-presets/ and https://sleeklens.com/product-category/lightroom-presets

Sleek lens offers even more check it out here:
https://sleeklens.com/product/professional-photo-editing-service/

Some spelling mistakes came through through a software  problem, apologies.

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