5 Minute Editing System

The reason behind creating the 5 Minute Editing System is because we are on the road 365 days a year shooting photographs. We do not have hours and hours to work on editing each photograph. It is much more important that we are out in the field taking more photos.

We have spent most of the last 17 years seeing the world and recording what we have found. Our current trip is in its third year. While this seems like a great way to see the world it is not without its problems and disadvantages.

The biggest challenge for us is and always has been photo editing. For us, working from a dining-room table (at best) or sitting on the floor with a computer in our lap, is how we work on our photos. We have to do our work when we have the internet AND when we have electricity in some places. This meant that we had to find a way to accomplish our work quickly and efficiently when we had those services available. Wi-Fi in most of the world is more like decent to good Dial-up Internet than high speed. We had to find a way to speed up the process without sacrificing quality in our work. That is the reason behind the development of the 5 Minute Editing System = Challenge Solved

I began creating presets to assist me in my workflow. The presets were significantly better than doing each photo from scratch but, the real breakthrough came when I developed the stackable layers I use in the 5ME Tool Kit. This is the real time saver. The stackable layers are much easier than beginning with all of the sliders in the Develop Module of Lightroom.

Can You Really Edit A Photograph In 5 Minutes?

Can you completely edit a photograph in 5 minutes and do justice to your work? No, of course, you can’t. But you can take a photograph and do the work that used to take an hour or more and do it in 5 minutes using three tools.

1. Lightroom Presets
2. Stackable Layers*
3. Stackable Brushes*
*Stackable Layers and Brushes DO NOT change or override the setting on a Preset.

What Are Lightroom Presets?

A “preset” is the functionality that allows us to record editing steps for future use.

Example: I may spend 45-60 minutes editing a photo, adjusting an endless amount of sliders in Lightroom and when I am happy with the look of the photo, I can save all the editing adjustments as a PRESET. With our program, your time will be cut down to only 5 minutes or less.

When I want to reuse it, it takes only a second to apply it to another photo. Even more astounding is the fact that I can apply the saved PRESET to multiple photos at one time using the Sync feature in Lightroom.

Over the years, I developed different presets for many types of travel photography. Now, I would like to share them with you to help your photography and to save you time. Please note, these are the same presets and tools I use to edit my own photographs.

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Ease of Use

Our workflow system has been developed through years of experimentation and many 100’s of man hours creating all of the tools and presets. After several years of painfully slow editing, I knew that there had to be a better way. That is when I went to work on the 5 Minute Editing System. We have taken the learning curve and flattened it out for you.

You can take a group of 500 Photographs, use lightroom to rate the quality and editability of the photos and remove the ones that you simply don’t think will make the grade as a potential keeper. That will probably cut the group from 500 down to 160 Keepers, 160 Potentials and 180 that are just not as good or not what you thought they would be when you took the shots.

From 500 to 320 is good but would still leave hours of work with most workflows. Most photographers say they can spend from 30 minutes to 3 hours or more on a single photograph. That is 160 hours to as much as 900 hours to work on a group of 320 photographs. That equates to between 16 10-hour days to infinity at 3 hours per photo. We, personally, have become more critical of our photographs and would probably start at only 160 Potential photographs with only 40 Keepers that we thought were the best.

We use the 5 Minute Editing System to knock out these 40 Keepers plus another 40 Potentials. At 5 minutes each, that means in 6 hours and 30 minutes we can then look at the 80 photographs and choose the ones to completely edit and publish. Perhaps 12 to 15 photographs that we want to represent our work and another 2 days of work to get them to the point where we are happy with the work.

This, in turn, has made us better photographers. Taking the time from in front of the computer doing digital editing and adding that time to shooting photos in the field gives us more chances to get better photographs. That simply gives you more time to become better photographers. When you are not studio photographers, wedding photographers etc. shooting and editing the same sets day after day, that extra time is crucial. We spent 3 months in Mongolia this summer and had over 2000 photographs. Next, without any breaks, we visited China for a brief time, Nepal for three months, the Philippines for 3 weeks and then back to Thailand for 1 month before coming to Europe. We had a backlog of over 5000 photographs and after a month in France with great internet those are mostly done with really great results. Without the 5 Minute Editing System, I would still be working on the photos.

How Does This Help You?

In the rest of this tutorial on the 5 Minute Editing System, I will show you step by step how I use the system to edit a photograph with 4 different Presets from the Dramatic Landscape Effects collection and 3 Presets from the ARTT 300 collection. I will also be using 6 Stackable Color Layers and finally the touchup with the Stackable Brush Sets. These will not be finished photographs to publish, but this will give you at least 7 choices and directions you may want to take to reach a finished photograph using a little more fine tuning.

Keep in mind that this has taken me over 3 years of hard work to achieve. I have hundreds of presets for the three main areas I work in:

   1. Landscape
   2. Street
   3. Street Portrait

Then, even more, when you break down these types of work into sub-groups like under Landscape:

leader dot  HDR
leader dot  Sunrise and Sunset
leader dot  Panoramas

There are certain Workflow Steps that are consistent with every photograph. Adjusting Blacks and Whites; Boosting Contrast and Clarity; Increasing Saturation to a consistent level; Adding A Graduated Filter To the Sky, and Opening Shadows To Recover Content. These are a basic set of steps that you do for every photograph but, why not set all of them up in 1 base preset and syncing those settings to a group of photographs and saving them. You can then bring the entire group in as new photographs and use the Presets and Stackable Layers. On the group of 160 photographs, if I spent just 2 minutes on each photograph that would take 1 hour to do 30 photographs or over 5 hours. Now I can do that part of my workflow in 1 minute for all 160 photographs. Since most of my landscape photos are more or less shot the same way I am able to save 5 hours of work and can then do the completion work with those 5 hours I just saved.

After making those adjustments to all of the photographs in a set, I can now use the Master presets to choose the best option to fine tune for each image and while these will not finish the job that gives you multiple options to explore by simply looking at the potential setups and choosing the one you like best for a photograph. Once again this is about saving time and work, you still have to do deep editing work to reach a point that you can say I am ready to publish, but the 5 Minute Editing System gives you a great starting point to go deeper into that work using the stackable layers and brushes to complete your work.

Today I continue to work on new presets and have recently come up with my newest group the ARTT 300 Series. This group is named after the movie ‘The 300’ and is much like the effects the creators used in the movie. It can provide some extremely good looks for Street, Landscape, and Portrait photographs. I continue in all of my spare time to create new looks in Lightroom and make them available to everyone as they are completed.

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5 Minute Editing System At Work

Each of the 6 adjustments has been built into each Preset. Once you have chosen the Preset to use, it can be fine tuned with the Tool Kit and Stackable Layers and Brushers.

checkmark for the 5 minute editing system    Adjusting Blacks
checkmark for the 5 minute editing system    Adjusting Whites
checkmark for the 5 minute editing system    Boosting Contrast and Clarity
checkmark for the 5 minute editing system    Increasing Saturation
checkmark for the 5 minute editing system    Adding a Graduated Filter to the Sky
checkmark for the 5 minute editing system    Opening Shadows to Recover Content

Presets From HDR Mixed Collection:

1. Badlands Moderate
The first preset I chose was the #04 Badlands Moderate Preset which did an adequate job to the photograph. I next used the 98C Graduated Cooling Filter to add a darker blue to the sky and 98A Green Grass for a little more green in the trees. Next, to make some fine tuning adjustments, I will work my way through the layers beginning with the Tool Kit.

Toolkit Adjustments: I bumped up the Clarity with #17 Clarity ++
Details Layers: I added A09 Super Sharp Layer

This gave me a good starting image to then fine tune with adjustment brush layers.

2. Black Canyon Sepia
#10 The Black Canyon Sepia was a good choice to give me a different and competing look to the first edit along with the 99A Green Grass 1 for a sharply contrasting color to the rest of the sepia tones.

Toolkit Adjustments: #08 Open Shadows ++
Details: #A09 Super Sharp

3. Everglades Real Cool
With the #15 Everglades Real Cool look we get a great blue sky and good contrast between the greens and blues that frame the temple well. Once again we used the #99A Green Grass Stax.

Tool Kit:
— #0 Exposure reset to 0 for a darker sky
— #07 Open Shadows +
— #13 Contrast ++
— #17 Clarity ++
Details: A11 Winter Crisp
Colors: #C3 Less Blue

4. Olympic Lite
Last the #16 Olympic Lite preset with 98B large graduated warming filter.

Tool Kit: #13 Contrast ++
— #A09 Super Sharp
— #A10 Total Clarity

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Presets From The ARTT 300 Set

The ARTT 300 Presets will give unique heavy contrast images. These were originally created for use as portrait images but we have found them to produce even better results with street photos and cityscapes. You will get striking contrasts with some heavy grit and grunge appearance.

5. ARTT 300 Medium
The 300 Medium gives you good contrast with just the #2 Preset. We will desaturate the sky further in the other stackable layers.

— #07 Baseline Open Shadows +
— #18 Clairty +++
— #35 Highlights – – –
Color Layers: #C3 Less Blue

6. ARTT 300 Warm
The ARTT 300 Warm filter (#5) gives much stronger tones and contrast than the previous filter and we will not need any of the clarity adjustments we used with the previous preset.

— #0 Baseline Exposure at 0
— #08 Baseline Open Shadows ++
— #27 Baseline Saturation – –
Temp Sat Layers: #B10 Warmer
Colors Layers: #C3 Less Blue

7. ARTT 300 Heavy Contrast Desat
Using the #18 Heavy Contrast Desat. We will be doing more with this last image taking it to a much higher degree of completion by using all of the stackable layers as before but then continuing a step further with the adjustment brushes.

Color Layers: #C3 Less Blue
The remainder of the changes will be made with the adjustment brushes.
Brush 88 Dodge Lighten — Use this brush to paint the trees to recover the details covered by the shadows.
Brush 02 Enhance Trees — Paint the same areas to enhance the trees.
Brush 63 Further Desat the sky.
Brush 121 Add Green Pop to trees while bringing out the strong blacks and whites of the temple.
Brush Contrast on the temple.

Final Thoughts

I created the 5 Minute Editing System to alleviate the time management problems of editing photographs on the road. This was more of a necessity than a desire to create something. As we continued adding tools to it we found that more and more people were facing many of the same issues we had. As more people use the system, we found that it seemed to fill a more important role.

The System has opened doors for people that are beginning in Photography and are overwhelmed with both Lightroom and Photoshop. When you first open either, the first reaction is to turn it off and say “Too Complicated”. The 5 Minute Editing System lets those people have an easy to use process to begin the basic editing steps. Now they have more time for (1.) Taking Better Photographs and (2.) Learning more advanced Lightroom and Photoshop techniques.

Others use the 5 Minute Editing System for the same reason that I created it. To allow them to speed up their workflow and give them more time to work on other necessary areas of their business such as marketing, more photographing time. Most importantly, getting them out from in front of their computer and back into the field which is really where all of us want to be.

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