Should You Use Photography Presets
Should you use photography presets? Do real photographers use photography presets?
I ask those questions, especially the second one, a little tongue in cheek because a few days ago a story about photography presets popped up in my Facebook news feed. I read it at the time – but didn’t save it – so now I can’t find the original story and reference it directly. But the gist of the story was that “real photographers don’t use presets”.
I suspect the implication is that professional photographers don’t use presets.
The premise of the story was that any preset – whether you buy it or create it yourself – is only matched to, and therefore suitable for, the image for which the preset was initially developed.
And I guess that is a fair comment up to a point.
But I’m not convinced that any photographer – let alone a “real photographer” – would use a one-click preset, and rely on that and that alone, to help establish their personal style or brand of photography.
I am guessing that most photographers would use a preset as a starting point and make adjustments to the presets individual settings to achieve the result they are looking for.
Having said that there was a time when I had just started proper photography – i.e. with a DSLR instead of my cell phone – when I regarded myself as the one-click-wonder. I had fallen in love with Luminar and their wide selection of presets and I used them freely and frequently on many mages without any fine-tuning.
I wasn’t looking to create a personal style or brand then – and I’m still not – but I would just open an image and hit that APPLY preset button and then SAVE if I liked the effect.
Now of course I have matured into a “real photographer” (another tongue-in-cheek comment…), and while I still use them, presets are merely a starting point for me in processing my photographs.
So should you use photography presets, regardless of the level of photography you are at?
Google “should you use photography presets” and you’ll find dozens of listings that say “Yes” – and quite a number that say “No”. I say “Yes – use them”. Scroll through the available presets and you never know you might strike it lucky and find one that works straight away for you and needs no tweaking at all. Otherwise, select a likely-looking preset as a starting point and work from there.
However, it really is up to you to make your own mind up about the value of using one-click presets.
So to put presets to the test (nothing scientific about my tests!) I processed a few recent photographs captured with my Panasonic Lumix G95 to black and white images using Nik Silver Efex Pro.
My workflow for these was as follows:
- Open the original jpeg in DxO Photolab 4 and apply optical corrections only;
- Export to Nik Silver Efex as a jpeg at 100% quality;
- Scroll through the available presets and select and apply one from Silver Efex’s many options (…there are 58 in all in my version of Silver Efex Pro);
- Tweak the preset settings to achieve a result I am happy with;
- Save the processed image back to the original folder;
- Reopen in DxO PL4 and rename the image as required;
- Apply my signature/watermark, resize, and export the finished image at approximately 60% quality;
- Up load to apertureprioritynz.com.
And here are the finished images…and remember, I’m not saying they are perfect, but I am saying I like them!
And for the record, I have always been a big fan of the Nik Collection. I first started using the free Nik programs as stand-alone packages. Now I use them as plugins with DxO Photolab 4 and this combination seems to work well for me in most instances. I also use the Nik Collection with Affinity Photo from time to time.