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Improve as a Photographer by Reviewing Your Photos & The Ultimate Lightroom Preset (free)

Written by Thomas C


Posted on January 01 2019

Lightroom CC

Improve as a Photographer by Reviewing Your Photos & The Ultimate Lightroom Preset (free)

Wildlife Photographer | Guide | Podcast host: PhotoCast | Founder of Alotech 

Improve as a Photographer by Reviewing Your Photos 

To become a better photographer you should review your photos. Reviewing your photos will allow you to see trends that you follow in the field as well as help you save some money on future equipment purchases. For the first part I will walk you through my own review, and then I will share with you an Adobe Lightroom Preset that I created for you after reviewing my edits in 2018. 

When the new year rolls in one of the best things we all can do as photographers is to review our old photos in order to keep improving as photographers. Reviewing your old photos is a simple task, however I have some tricks that will allow us all to really focus on how refine our skills. 

In order to review our old images in Lightroom you need to have your Filter Bar turned on. To do this just go to View-> Show Filter Bar (second from the top):


Adobe Lightroom Filter Bar                

Here is a useful tip: only review your best photos and your worst photos. The reason I choose to focus on my favorite photos from 2018 is because I want to see what makes these photos stand out, and how I can improve next time. Also, I choose to review my worst photos because I can learn from my camera mistakes (too cropped…) or mistakes I made in the field (poor lighting…). 

Following the advice, I gave in my Free Lightroom & Photoshop Guide for Wildlife Photographers I rate all my favorite photos 5 stars and my worst flagged as rejected.

To filter by star rating click on the Attribute icon in the Library Filter area in the top half part of your screen. Then, set your star rating to ≥ ★★★★★


Lightroom Filter By Stars


Now, to view metadata settings click on the Metadata icon in the Library Filters section. Click on the Metadata name to change the filter. Set your Metadata Filters to Date, Camera, Lens, Aperture, Shutter Speed, and ISO (to add columns click on the symbol with four lines when you scroll your cursor all the way to the right of each Filter).

Lightroom Filters

The reason I like to filter by Date is because I can select only 2018 to review the past year, to compare the results to 2017, and to compare my results to all other years. The Camera Filter will allow you to see what cameras are giving you the best results. Filtering by camera is a great way to see an unbiassed view on what type of camera works best for you, and if you really need to upgrade. This year my results really surprised me.

Filtering by lens will allow you to really see your overall vision you were having during 2018. As wildlife photographers I find most of us favor our long lenses and we would all really benefit from picking up our wide-angle lenses more often. If you are a landscape photographer the opposite may be true for you, and you may see almost no images with your longer lenses. Filtering by lens this year shocked me and I am going to try an improve how I approach different scenes for 2019.

Filtering by Aperture, Shutter Speed, and ISO is the best way to see objectively what new gear could help you as well as help you see your style. For example, you may see that you photograph at high ISOs which could help you with your next camera purchase. You could also see that your best photos are taken at high ISOs with stopped down apertures. So, for 2019 maybe you could try opening up your aperture and bringing down your ISO to achieve cleaner images.

Walkthrough Of My Results

One of the most surprising results I discovered was my preference for my Canon 5DS R over my 1DX Mark II cameras. Also, my 5DS R helped me capture a majority of my favorite photos for 2018. I know I am going to get some messages that I should convert to the Dark Side to the new Nikon D850, but I am still a Canon shooter for now…

1DX Mark II and 5DS R                

Another interesting change for 2018 was my reliance on shorter lenses. I really made it my goal to use lenses less than or equal to 200mm, and my results clearly show this. For, 2019 my goal is to use my wide-angle lenses more. The reason I personally want to do this is because I get to go to some of the nicest places on our planet and in some of my photos you can’t tell.

16-35mm f/4 IS, 24-70mm f/2.8 II, 135mm f/2, 200mm f/2 IS, 300mm f/2.8 IS II, 600mm f/4 IS II, 1.4x III

Over the years I have developed my own style, and viewing my results are clear: I prefer to shoot wide open. For my 135mm f/2, 200mm f/2, 300mm f/2.8, and 600mm f/4 a majority of my favorite photos are taken with a wide-open aperture because I prefer images with non-distracting backgrounds. For you, your results could be the opposite. This is not good or bad but the information could help you save money because you may not need to buy the expensive and heavy primes.

Wildlife Photography Aperture Settings

Shutter Speed and ISO are my last filters and a majority of my photos are taken at shutter speeds higher than 1/400 as well as a majority of my favorite photos are taken are ISOs less than ISO 800. My shutter speed is high because I only photograph wildlife, and I want to freeze the action. Also, my ISOs are low because most of my favorite photos are taken during the golden hours of sunrise/ and sunset vs. the shade.

The Ultimate Lightroom Preset for Wildlife Photographers

I have been getting an overwhelming response from my free Lightroom & Photoshop Guide for Wildlife Photographers, and to help everyone out I created a free Lightroom Preset that is a good starting point. I created this preset after reviewing my edits in order to determine what settings would be a good starting point for you. To instantly get your Alotech Wildlife Preset for Lightroom click the button:

To download the preset simply go to the Develop Module in Lightroom, on the lefthand side click the dropdown for Presets, click the + icon, then click Import Presets...

How to Download a Lightroom Preset

I hope this post helps you out by showing you the importance of reviewing your photos. Also, I hope this preset helps you implement the techniques I outlined in my free Lightroom & Photoshop guide for Wildlife Photographers. 

Thanks for taking the time to read my post. It would be great if you posted a comment on what you discovered about your photography settings below!

Lightroom Preset for Wildlife Photographers

Click the button to instantly download your free Lightroom preset.