August 27, 2023

Tinting photos is simply taking a color tone based on chemicals, as I showed in the Recent Emulsion 4.2 update, or based on the film, color temperature, etc. We’ve been doing this since the beginning of photography.

You should tint photos in color not just black and white!

Tinting photos can be all manual or you can use tools like my Emusion 4 actions, Silver 5 presets, and Belladonna.

Don’t limit yourself to photo tinting and editing.

If you’ve been to my Shadow Hackers workshop you have an understanding of how our contrast is created by shadows and tone values, not sliders.

Whether you control it or the camera, you’re getting tinted. You don’t have to over-edit. When a viewer sees your image, they don’t need to think. They’re tinting this, or… that’s a platinum look. The photo just is and should be balanced.

But that does not mean leaving everything plain and flat. Don’t over-edit, but remember your photo tinting, your process, and your chemical look just like from the darkroom. These are subjective and your choice. So play around and make magic happen.

This had a color process from Filmist, but then I added a cyanotype chemical tone in color.

There are no natural photos. Really!

Every photo we take is an interpretation of what we saw. Our eyes don’t even see the same thing.

We can take real photos in the sense that the skies are real, and faces real, not AI-generated. Real moments matter. But color and tone were always a matter of p[erstive, film type, paper type, chemical, and now sensor style, raw converter, etc.

Lake Isabella CA, 4×5 film, wet plate, and cyanotype mix in EMulsion 4.

I chuckle when they say their photos are straight out of the camera.

The camera applied a preset. It’s no more or less real than when we have more control and add that presets in Lightroom. Even LR vs. C1 renders the raw file totally differently and that “straight out of camera look” is not the same in either one.

This purist SOOC idea is not a real thing. Either the camera software applied a color grade, photo tinting, contrast etc, or you did. Even when you shoot film, the emulsion you choose changes how the tint and tone will look.

San Luis Potosi Mexico. A true black-and-white edit developed as platinum from Emulsion 4.

Find what you felt in photo tinting.

A visualization is really finding the look you felt when you took the photo. There are many ways to get there and yes you can over edit and over cook a photo.

This is one reason I love organic feeling tools like Filmist or a platinum look from Emulsion actions. Because they are based on real orgaic darkroom photography they give me a way to go all in on an edit but stay grounded.

But in the end, you decide. I can take this portrait and leave a POrtra 400 look, or I can make a selenium black and white, or I can mix it all up and make a color with a selenium process like this. None are wrong and all look good.

Let me know what you think in the comments and try these photo tinting ideas yourself with the concepts of hunting shadows in mind and watch magic unfold.

Gavin Seim

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July 15, 2023

Using layers in Lightroom has improved a lot in the past year. In Photoshop it’s a lot the same and in Capture One nothing ever changes. But there are layers and that’s good for you.

There are 3 levels of edits and the secret layer makes them all easier.

They will make you edit faster but if you use them the way layers should be used, they will also help you ensure to don’t edit your photo wrong. That combo gives you the secret layer.

No longer second-guess your edits.

The secret layer consists of two parts really. #1 is perspective for your edit. #2 is quickly adjusting it and applying a more informed perspective to your edit instantly. Al the basic level this works with individual presets like Silver or more complex masks like Elegance creates for you.

Sometimes I shadow painting details manually. Or maybe I’m using fast tools like Lumist, Blackroom Black and White, or Signature Emulsion. Well-built actions like this create your layers stack so the secret layer is instantly ready.

Digital edits are easy to overcook when you start adding layers. But layers are also the secret to getting more dimensional and creative edits. Here I used GoldChrome and simply dialed it back in this level 1 edit.

How far should you edit?

We’ll look at 3 levels of editing in the video and using those as a guide is really useful because you can decide how far to go in each segment of your project. I only go to level 3 on my best images, which can vary.

In the portrait example in today’s video, I took it all the way to an illustrative look, but it would also be a lighter effect or just some simple atmospheric actions like Alchemist.

The secret layer varies in each app.

But the concept is the same. Some apps like Lightroom are more advanced. They reward you directly for supplying things as a preset as I show with masks. So you want to use that method if you create your own presets.

Photoshop is very powerful and uses a more ould school-layer approach.

Capture One doe the same though with a little less power because of the lack of stacking. That said you can still build edits on those layers and then control them to use the secret layer.

I hope you find this as exciting as me and put it to work right away. Leave your questions or tips in the comments.

Gavin Seim

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June 30, 2023

In last week’s video, I showcased the new curve features in Lightroom. You can watch that here. But this time we go a bit deeper te see how to make thsoe tools faster. I also show you the latest 4.6 update of Elegance Lightroom Masks.

I’ll show you how to use those curves in Lightroom Mask Presets

PS: You can get my Elegance presets here OR login here to download your free update.

You don’t edit better by doing everything manually.

That’s pure myth from people trying to sound important.

I’ll show you in today’s video how that works and what’s new in 4.6, Because in 2023 if you don’t use presets for this stuff Lightroom effectively punishes you with fewer features. You ge more and faster by making presets or using advanced presets like Elegance..

Ektar 100-like from Filmist and just did the background mask using the update 1.6 preste from elegance.

So Don’t start from zero. It’s pointless!

The reason for that is that whether we’re talking about advanced development presets like Silver or Street’ist, or masking of skin and details, Lightroom like Photoshop before it is built is fast.

So Adobe is creating features as I show you with the preset adjustment sliders that let you work much faster and get an exact result if you DO NOT manually start from zero with the sliders.

The right process in Lightroom

Sort your best images so you are not distracted by the duds. Start with your base photo. Edit it with your presets for your look be it film or black and white etc. Use ethe amount slide to dial it in. Copy as needed to another photo.

Take your best work that you want to mask and use the same procvess using Speed Lightroom Masks and the amount sliders. Then copy that to other photos as needed.

CineMist mask preset is a new one mask softening for when you don’t want a lot. Portra 400 from Filmist.

Results speak louder than words.

Put this to work and watch tegh qaulity of your edits, the time you save and the constsiantly of each body of work improve overnight. I’ve been teachiong Lightroom since V1 and these features from the past 2 years are really taking it to another level.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

Gavin Seim

Easy Sunlight is a simpler version of the Harch Sun tool in elegance, but the amount sliders lets you quickly control how far it shoudl go. I used Portra 160 for the main process.
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June 16, 2023

As of 2023, this is the absolute best way to get dramatic black and white I have discovered. Plus I just did a big update to my Blackroom actions (login here if you own Blackroom)

But today’s video will fill you with black and white-ness, even if you don’t use my actions.

I’ll show you the best way to create black and white in Photoshop and why it;’s better than doing it only in Lightroom as we edit a landscape and a portrait. Go fullscreen and watch this one in 4k.

You can get BlackRoom here and if you’ve bought it, login and download your update.

Improving your Dramatic black and white is about nuance.

New photographers often make the mistake of thinking that dramatic black and white is more about adding contrast. Something the opposite is true. It’s actually about using shadow correctly.

That’s why you see me in the video referencing to the Zones and thinking about where I want the tone to be placed. You control all of that.

Speaking on shadow, If you’ve never been to one of my free Shadow Hackers LIVE workshops don’t miss the next one.

This lovely portrait edited fine in Lightroom. But in Blackroom it refined much more.

Lightroom, C1, or Photoshop for Dramatic black and white?

Both work great as you’ll see in today’s hands-on video. If you have a good editing plan they bother convert beautifully. But I’ll show you in today’s video why you will always get a bit more if you finish in Photoshop, even if you started out in Lightroom or Capture One (which is what I do).

In the end, you can do all of this manually, create your own tools, presets, actions etc if you are really experienced, or use tools like my Silver presets and Blackroom actions.

The main thing is to try the methods I showed you today and your dramatic black and white photos will touch the sky sell more and win competitions. Really.

That is the power of the dramatic black and white. Let me know what you think.

Gavin Seim

Using a gradient map and layers in PS I had more control in this photo from Yosemite National Park
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May 26, 2023

Yes Lightroom needs every ounce of power. But when you have Lightroom running slow, your work slows down and drives you crazy.

In todays video we STOP letting lightroom RUN slow and make it FAST

I actually got fed up after last weeks video about Speed-Masks. I love Ai masking in LR but it was bringing my good system to a crawl. I decided it was time to review everything and make a video.

Check out Filmist and Elegance 4.5 Speed-Mask update that was mentioned briefly in the video.

Making Lightroom fast in 3 steps.

This 2023 video is everything relevant I could find to make Lightroom fast and it goes well beyond the basic Lightroom preference panel settings that you tweak when Lightroom is Slow.

This video has 3 segments. The first is the basics inside LR, then the factors outside of Lightroom and finally Advanced tips for your system to make it speedy.

Lightroom running slow? Make lightroom run faster

Lightroom is a log, accept that and make it fast!

Lightroom has always been a big of a hog. Lt likes lots of Ram, disk speed and now graphics. The Masking is epically heavy on graphics use so make sure you watch the external lightroom speed tips in the video because they really help.

Many if these will improve speed on other apps as well. So if you find Capture One is slow or you video editing app, many of the things I’ll share with you today still apply.

Check in with preferences first and often if you feel things are slowing down. We’ll cover those tips in the video. But don’t stop there, do the more advanced things to really make your Lightroom run faster.

I hope this helped you speed up Lightroom as much as it did for me. – Gavin Seim

Lightroom slow? Make lightroom faster
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