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!

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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.

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.