Note from the Editor
A week or so ago Jeff Tamagini posted this photo on Twitter – mentioning he leveraged XeL:Black and White in his workflow. Naturally, we took notice of such a sweet image and asked him to describe in more detail how he processed this shot. Lucky for all of us he accepted! Now … on to the goodness!
X-Equals XeL – Real World, Kick A** Results
First things first, thanks to the X-Equals team for giving me the opportunity to do a guest post to go through the process I used for my photo Dreaming. I have been a fan of the presets these guys have made for a long time, but once Lightroom 4 came around the old presets didn’t function quite the same.
My main reason for wanting to upgrade to the XeL Black and White presets was speed. I will fully disclose, when I am editing one off photos I am going to open Nik Silver Efex Pro 2 or Color Efex Pro 4. But when I shoot events where I have hundreds of photos to process these programs, as great they are, will just not do, they can not batch process and time becomes an issue.
… my main goal in creating this photo was to test how the XeL Black and White stacked up against Nik Silver Efex Pro 2 (SEP2) with minimal tweaking after applying the presets.
The technical aspects of this photo are the following. It was shot with a Canon 5D mark II with a Canon EF 70-200 f/2.8IS. I was zoomed to 200mm, an ISO of 800, aperture of f/5.6, and a shutter speed of 1/125th. The reason for the high ISO is that this particular photoshoot was done in conjunction with the lighting company FJ Westcott and I used their Spiderlite TD6’s which are continuous lights that are daylight balanced. Since there is no flash of light, a higher ISO is needed to get a faster shutter speed to freeze the movement of the model.
Again my main goal in creating this photo was to test how the XeL Black and White stacked up against Nik Silver Efex Pro 2 (SEP2) with minimal tweaking after applying the presets. But my very first step in this process was to open this photo up in Photoshop to retouch it.
My retouching included blemish removal, skin softening, sharpening, some minor dodging and burning. All in all I would say it was a 10 minute retouch. When it was finish I headed back into Lightroom with the photo below.
In Lightroom, I went into the Develop Module and with the retouched photo selected I created a virtual copy by pressing CMD+’ on the mac or CNTL+’ on windows. On that virtual copy I right clicked and selected Edit in then Silver Efex Pro 2. It brings up a dialog box of some choices and I always choose Edit a Copy with Lightroom Adjustments. This creates another copy and launches SEP2.
After SEP2 launched I left everything set to its defaults which is neutral and on the right under Film Type I chose Illford Delta 100 Pro and I clicked save. The edited Tiff file is now back in Lightroom.
Now, back on that virtual copy I first created from the retouched photo I went and applied the XeL presets. Still in the Develop Module, I expanded the XeL – BW Cold Storage Films folder in the Presets panel on the left and scrolled through the tons of options till I reached the Illford section. I applied the 3 presets, Illford Delta 100 Pro Mix, Tone and Grain.
… the XeL edited shot appears to have been automatically dodged and burned in the correct places. That is very cool.
Wow, I believe was the word that came out of my mouth. I compared the two photos side by side. The only other thing I did to both photos to was to drop the Highlights to -30 and I also opened up the Shadows to +14. Both of those adjustments are available under the Basic rollout within the Develop Module.
That is it everything else was left to the defaults. When you look at the photos side by side, you can see that the SEP edited photo (on the left) seems flatter and slightly over exposed compared to the XeL processed file (on the right). In fact, the XeL edited shot appears to have been automatically dodged and burned in the correct places. That is very cool.
If you are someone that is just getting started with Lightroom and love black and white photos the XeL presets are an amazing set of presets for very little cost. If you are someone that shoots lots of event work and needs a streamlined and fast workflow these are also for you.
Thanks to X-Equals for creating an awesome set of develop and adjustment brush presets they really are amazing. Also thanks to Dawn for being a fantastic model and to FJ Westcott for providing the lighting for the shoot.
Jeff Tamagini – Tamagini Design