I have been using image enhancement presets in Adobe Lightroom for a very long time. Whether they are good or bad is not the question because these presets that come from a godly amount of creator companies can either produce what I would consider very good starting points or unbelievable ugly starting points. It is very easy to get roped into owning hundreds of presets and experimenting with all of them until your eyes pop out of their sockets screaming for help.
I am one of those people, once getting started on an experimental
project to go full bore and ultimately can wind up producing some very outlandish images that I wouldn’t never hang on the wall of my worst enemy.
Recently Fuji came out with a X Pro 2 rangefinder style camera. Fuji is known for having excellent out of the camera Jpeg files and wonderful film simulations based on films the had made in the past. I use a Fuji Xt-1. The X Pro 2 is the newest generation from Fuji with a different sensor and processing engine and they added a new simulation based on their black and white film called Acros. My camera can not use that simulation and because I was not running out to buy a new camera for a film simulation I decided to find Acros in a preset from one or more of those manufacturers that make presets.
If I said I spent a unmentionable amount of hours not only working with Acros presets that were no where as good as the in camera one from Fuji, I would not be lying. Hours and hours of not only screwing around with “Acros” look a likes but getting suckered into playing once again with all the other presets. You can take a look at a blog I posted the other day.
if you need them presets are supposed to give you starting points in your post processing so you can tweak an image to look like what you believe you saw on a personal level when you took the picture. That’s it. To go further is truly a waste of your time and energy that could be put to better use taking more pictures and being out in the fresh air as opposed to being behind a computer.
So what can a preset do to make your life easier? It can make your life easier but most people I know find it makes life more difficult because there are too many to work with and generally those doing post processing have a tendency to go too far and ruining what was a beautiful image to start with. If a person wanting to produce the best image possible is working in software like Adobe Lightroom then it is best to learn that software, create an image look that fits your style and ambition and now you can truly call it your own. The best place to learn this is with an old friend of mine at the “school of creative photography.”
I am no genius when it comes to Lightroom but I know enough to either produce some really good images or to be extremely dangerous. I never took Brian’s course but have had Brian’s help and he sure knows his stuff and how to help you know YOUR stuff.
So with the exception of Nik plugins which are now FREE FROM GOOGLE, I will stick to basic processing. The Nik plugins are some of the cleanest and easiest to work with in conjunction with Lightroom, Photoshop, the old Apple Aperture.
As for heavy duty presets, I have pretty much washed my hands of them and will continue to master Lightroom.
I have however created my own personal preset. The base preset inside a Fuji camera is called Provia. That is their default out of the box film preset as it is overall pretty evenly balanced to give great color, dynamic range, and fine grain looks. Adobe has included this in their own presets for Fuji films so that a raw file can look like an out of the camera Jpeg file. I took their Provia profile preset, tweaked it to my liking against a Provia file that I had in Jpeg format and created my own preset so that when Lightroom opens up, a raw file from my camera will look like the Jpeg file in my camera.
If you spend less time playing and more time shooting you will be learning how to use your camera gear to the best of its and your ability.