Oct 10, 2008

2008 Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta Glowdeo and Lightroom 2 Presets

2008 Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta Glowdeo

Kodak's International Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque presents the professional photographer with interesting problems.  You're on the chase crew; you've got balloon competitions and glowdeo (all balloons light up at night) camera time as well.  So, how do you process some 500 raw images a day in the middle of all this chaos?

Enter Lightroom; injest your images, back up, prepare them with presets, pick your keepers, then use a few brush changes, save your file (s), and you're ready to quickly prepare your blog.  But first... let's talk about chase crew duties.

When you're on a chase crew, you're on the balloon field by 5:45 a.m.  You set up the balloon; as soon as it lifts off, you shoot all balloons nearby, then jump in the truck to go find them and reload the balloon - after a late breakfast, it's time to process images and catch a quick nap.

Glowdeo is the Fiesta’s 'Really Big Show!'  After importing morning images, you go back on the field at 6 p.m., set up the balloon for the evening show, then when burners start firing, go off and shoot more images.  When glowdeo is over, you repack the balloon about 9 p.m.  Once again, process recent images before falling asleep.  After all, you got to leave for morning at 5:30 a.m. ... imagine a week of chasin'!

Oops, you're always playing catch up to get cards downloaded, images imported with presets, copyright, and back up to just be ready to shoot that next exciting balloon event.  Let's show some Develop Settings tricks during raw image import in Lightroom which cut down on workflow.  What if you could see a glowdeo image needing only a little touch up to make a positive impact on your audience.  Let's talk about how to do that...

DSLR cameras are designed to produce raw files without sharpening.  They usually look flat and pale.  Adobe has just released beta versions of camera profiles with 'true' color for leading DSLR's.  If you combine both camera color and landscape sharpen presets in Develop mode, working DNG files (Adobe’s Digital Negative) will look closer to your final touch up.  That's a considerable time saving based on two features; you don't have to sharpen or get colors right for your particular camera.  Lightroom can do this job automatically. 

Our workflow makes a preliminary file which looks like a JPEG - but has other distinct advantages.  On import, Lightroom provides inclusion of EXIF and copyright metadata, as well as keywords on import.  You see a sharp, real color on first examining images to pick keepers.  You shoot and save 14 bit images for enhanced shadows and highlights.  You also reduce file size perhaps 10% with raw file included in the DNG.

2008 Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta Glowdeo raw

Here’s the raw image from our shoot.

For our 'keeper' (top), in addition to sharpness and camera profile presets, we enhanced Exposure, Blacks, Clarity, and Vibrance a bit in the Basic tab.  At 1:1, noise was dominant in the sky.  In the Detail tab, increasing Luminance to 92 reduced noise.  At blog scale, you can't see these changes; at 1:1, they're really quite apparent.

In toto; early preparation of imported images provides appetizing colors, sharpness, and keywords to find and quickly aid ‘keeper’ decisions.  Final work up is speedier; you can work through individual bunches of images while Lightroom imports ahead of your choosing keepers.

Now, if it were as easy to write a cogent blog…
Isn't moonrise a nice touch?

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