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Software Review: Michael Andrew’s PaintBaller Pro Presets

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Michael Andrew PaintBaller Pro is a package of presets that give you the ability to create a unique feel to your images that can range from a painted look to High Dynamic Range (HDR) without any specific in camera manipulation. These presets work with Adobe Camera Raw and Adobe Lightroom 2.

Installing PaintBaller Pro is as easy as copying files into the appropriate directory as discussed in the instructions that are included with the product. There is one set of files for Lightroom 2 and one set for Adobe Camera Raw. The license allows you to use both sets, but if you only have one or the other, copy the appropriate files to their location and once you have done this everything is ready for you to use.

PaintBaller Pro comes with 25 different presets that give a wide variety of looks to your images. The fact that you can combine these presets, and that the specific order in which they are applied can change the look dramatically, there are virtually an unlimited number of combinations that can be created. Unlike actions, these presets are run from within the Adobe Camera RAW engine which comes with both Photoshop and Lightroom.

PaintBaller ProIn case you are not familiar with Adobe Camera Raw (ACR), this is a plug-in originally designed for Adobe Photoshop that is used for working with the RAW files that DSLR cameras produce. Camera Raw makes the process easier by giving you complete control over these uncompressed negatives, and allowing you to control many parameters within the image.

Adobe also integrated the ACR functionality into Lightroom when it was released the functionality of the two are the same. The differences come from the application. One of the main differences though is that in Lightroom 2 is that you can preview your preset change before you apply it. In Camera Raw you have to apply it to see the change.

Michael Andrew created these presets because as a photographer, he knows how easy it is to get into a creative rut. This can lead to images that become monotonous and repetitive. By creating PaintBaller Pro, he is providing new techniques to help you get your creative juices flowing again.

PaintBaller ProYou do need to be comfortable with working with ACR or Adobe Lightroom 2 in the develop mode because chances are that applying a preset by itself will not provide perfect results. Many times, depending on the image, they will not look very good. Your success will come from "tweaking" the photo to get them to turn out correctly. When you purchase the product, you will receive a link and a password to access some video's that will show you the major and minor tweaks you will work with.

Once you have PaintBaller Pro installed, then it is really easy to apply a preset. First you select which medium you will work in – ACR or Lightroom. For ACR, you open Adobe Bridge and select the photo that you want to use and open in using ACR. Then in ACR you select the preset tab and select a preset and apply.

In Adobe Lightroom 2, you select the preset tab on the left panel and navigate to the MA PaintBaller Pro LR2. Then when you hover over a specific preset you will see the change in the preview window. From personal preference, to me it is easier working from within Lightroom but they work equally as well from either.

While, if you don't have a camera that shoots Camera Raw, you can still take advantage of PaintBaller Pro as it does work with any files that work within ACR which includes JPEG files. One thing to keep in mind is that because a JPEG file is compressed, it has lost data and therefore the quality may not be as good as if you used a raw file.

There are also other things that can affect result quality such as ISO settings and the amount of noise in the image. If you want to see some samples of what PaintBaller Pro can do for you check out the PaintBaller Pro Samples Page. There are also video demos there as well.

PaintBaller ProI found the Michael Andrew PaintBaller Pro presets very easy to use and very intuitive as having a lot of flexibility. This set is $150 and can be purchased at Michael Andrew's store. If you are looking for something to put some pop into photos, then check out PaintBaller pro.

The list of PaintBaller Pro presets that are available are:

• "A1 Starter"
• "Blitz"
• "Blown Away"
• "Comic Boy"
• "Comic Girl"
• "Dead Eye"

• "Edge"
• "Fullback"
• "Grenade"
• "Hat Trick"
• "Ice"
• "Jello"
• "Katana"
• "Lorie"
• "Maverick"
• "Newspaper"
• "Oreo"
• "Pseudo-Sun"
• "Quick Mint"
• "Rootbeer Float"
• "Secret Sauce"
• "Time Warp"
• "Viper"
• "X-Ray"
• "Zing"

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About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.