More curves….

Sabatier effect is not that easy to recreate..

Here are some more samples of my efforts in reviving the sabatier effect.

Discovered that blending modes and layers can add a profound effect to it.

However  I like to stay a bit more true to the real process as it happened in the old analogue darkroom, but I am tempted… So these images are still based on the effect of tone reversal after re exposing the film during development.


Not the best example, only found a low res image and it shows in the definition of the lines around the tripod and model.

Colour transparencies  with a few different tonal values are more fun to play with. It is not easy where you keep the original tones preserved. On purpose I do not show the original image, these “effects” could amuse or intrigue you…


Found Agfa Contour negatives, but the effect is in this digital age kind of old hat – not that captivating, I think I’ll try first to get Sabatier under my control.

Any feedback is appreciated.

Sabattier and friends, my old favourite darkroom effects brought to life!

Recently I was given a lot of old photos my deceased mother had collected over her long years. Some of my old photos were in that collection too.
Scanning them was the first step and since they were all old photos made on film and paper they displayed the old analogue darkroom effects, like overexposed, not properly fixed – that shiney blue black effect etc. Decided to look into some old developing techniques and did find the old darkroom had lots of “special effects” through developing and exposing.
Always liked to experiment, so most of the techniques in the darkroom I tried out and I was quite familiar with them. Nowadays, with digital development we have new fashion looks like HDR etc. So why not try to give the old scanned photos some old fashioned darkroom treatments?
The Sabattier effect was one of my old favourites. Thankfully  – photoshop has no such filter. It has a solarisation filter but that is totally different. I set out to create such an old film developing process to replicate in digital format.
The photograph I had scanned was in colour, I converted it into black-and-white, and then what? Myself I had no clue. I looked up on the Internet how other people created Sabbattier effects. Some of them were totally wrong, but I found some that were quite close to the original black-and-white effects that I could remember from my old darkroom days. I adapted some of their techniques or work methods and after a little bit of “playtime” it was very easy to replicate the effect.
Let me tell you how it works in reality, in the old darkroom. Once you had exposed your film, with the correct exposure to make a good black-and-white photograph you re-exposed your film to another light source during development. Timing of the “second exposure” was critical, you had to wait a little bit I would say about two thirds of your total film developing time, then expose it to another light source. The intensity of the other light source was also critical. Too bright and it would blacken the whole film. Too little and not much would happen. I would say that a 25 W light bulb a couple of metres away for a few seconds was sufficient.
Let me deviate, if you are developing a 35mm black-and-white film it has been wound on a spiral of plastic. So the outer edge, the first six exposures are on the outer side of the film reel. They get the brunt of the second exposure. The layers behind that closer to the centre receive very little light. A 120 film is shorter and therefore easier to give a second exposure because there are only a few layers on the spiral. If for any reason anything went wrong you would have lost either a whole 36 exposure 35mm film, or 10 shots on a 120 film.
Therefore I only used 10 x 12 cm sheet film. You could take that out of the tank, expose it to a second light source and the whole sheet would receive that exposure. If it went wrong you only lost one shot. Way to go!
The result of this second exposure was to partially reverse the tonal values on your negative. Certain areas would reverse, others would stay the same, and some tonal values would slightly change. See my photographs.
There was another problem if you continued your development after that second light exposure, you would normally agitate the film to create an even development.
And here is the trick, after the second exposure carefully slide the partially developed sheet film back into the film developing tray. You were not going to agitate the film or the developer at all, you just gave it the remaining time of the total development time.

The developing of the silver halides was now taking place again. But since there was no movement of the developer we got that interesting Mackie line effect. This is a black line that occurs where there are two areas of contrast- light and dark- meeting during development.
If you’ve never been in a dark room, you possibly have no idea what I am talking about. I’m not a chemist so I can’t tell you exactly why that happens. If you gave it the normal developing time with agitation after the second exposure you would possibly over develop the film.
After the developing time was over, you fixed the film, and since you were dying to see how it looked like – after all you spent about 25 minutes in the dark room fiddling around with that film, you switched the white light on and started to look at your film sheet see the effects of your “Sabatier” effect.
I used exclusively film for this process, it is possible to repeat this scenario for photographic paper that is in the developing tray. Unfortunately the contrast and crispness somehow lacks on photographic paper. After all there is quite a difference between a 20 x 25 cm photograph and a 10 x 12 negative. You can enlarge the negative and when printing the negative you can control the contrast on photographic paper.
This is in short a summary of how I used to make these photographs, but there are many little problems I have not covered like what kind of developer do you use, what film did you use -they all influence the end result.
I started to look through my old negative albums and found some more of my old experiments. I have solarised negatives and some old Agfa contour film. I will show you more later on.
I did find this an interesting process to replicate on existing material I have so I have now another project in mind to recreate some new photographs with the Sabatier effect.

Any questions, no problem: please contact me at


BeArt Product Presets for Lightroom evaluation


A request was  received from BeArt-Presets ( 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… 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



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?


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.”


My review about BeArt Lightroom Landscape presets:

A request came in from BeArt-Presets ( 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.
  • Naming structure.
  • Effects need to be “stronger”?
  • Effects need to be stackable.
  • Easy install.
  • Not expensive.
  • Definitely different! 
Visit to see all their other presets, quite a comprehensive collection!

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.

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.

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 (, 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.


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.


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: ( and

Sleek lens offers even more check it out here:

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

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