As lightroom is the new instagram filter, and loads of content creators on Instagram or Youtube have just seen this coming, there are plenty of offers from your favorite photographers/filmmakers to get their superfancycooltravelvibelooking presets. Those will of course let your most favorite tree in a crowded park or your balcony palm, which is in need of water, look like the most paradise-like scenery, you have just captured with last powers after being stranded on the most idyllic and white sanded beach in a country you have never heard of before. That's worth the 50$ for 5 presets you will say....
What, if I tell you that you...
- Expected something else, when you apply these presets
- Have to edit your shots anyway, after using the preset
- Miss the chance to edit your shots in a better, more fitting, way
- Will never learn how to edit properly, just using presets
- Are creative enough to make the shots look like you want them to look with just a little more time and effort
- Be able to create your own presets and to understand better when to use them ???
1. 8 of 10 will be dissapointed after applying the preset (2/10 don't care)
After buying those presets, from wherever, you will have to import them to Lightroom. If you are here, because you googled how to add them to your lightroom, go back to google and try another article. ;)
Let's say you have already imported the presets of your choice. If you chose a shot to edit with the preset and apply this one to the shot, there is a pretty high probability that you will be disappointed, as the image will not be tranformed from the palm tree on your balcony to the most paradise-like palm tree you have ever seen (only using this for exaggeration). The thing with presets is, that the creator of it may have tried his/her preset on several shots they were taking. Means that hey might have different opportunites on locations as you have, different preferences of camera settings and different preferences of editing at all, in comparison to you. For example: If a shot was taken, using under-exposure settings, of course it makes sense to bring out the highlights, whites or shadows. But what is gonna happen if you shoot in a mode where your exposure almost burns out the details in the sky? Right, by adding the preset your shot will look like a white snowball, which lays in the sun, which is reflecting all the light...your photo will be way too over-exposed and you will lose all the details in the sky for example.
It just needs differences in taking the photo (with different settings), different environments, jpeg or raw configs, color profiles of different cameras, different white balance settings and many more to count in and your edited shot will not turn out as you have expected it and paid serious money for it.
2. How can I reduce those red highlights and what are those gradiation curves, everybody of my friends is talking about?
If you are not pleased with the first results of applying the preset on your shot, you can of course make minor or major adjustments. But what, if you just do not know how to reduce the red highlights or removing the slight fade the preset add?!
People, who are familiar with all the tools of lightroom for example, or have a broad comprehension of all the parameter to edit, will get that quickly. But as there will be always something you are not familiar with, especially with the specialties every photographer/editor has for himself, using presets can be really frustrating when it comes to slight adjustments. Your probably have to try and move loads of buttons and sliders until you have found the one you need and wanna adjust...but what is, if the effect you wanna change is a mix of multiple parameters?! Houston we have a problem...
If you are in need to do that, of course you learn how lightroom works technically, but the time you will have to put into that can be also used to look at turorials and learn editing by yourself....guess what, youtube tutorials are for free.
3. The advantages of editing your photos from tip to toe, using specific tutorials
As I just mentioned, you will learn faster and better how to edit your banger shots with lightroom, by using tutorials to get inspired and to get the idea behind all those parameters. On first sight, this way takes much longer, but trust me: you will be more satisfied in the end and don't have to put any money in that. The great thing is, that you will develop your own process of editing, which will be more efficient and pleasant in the end then using paid presets and have to adjust them anyway. It will also effect the way you are taking your photos when it comes to settings to shoot at. It happened to me too: When I used my camera first and had no idea, that I have to take care of the histogram for example, which can be seen almost on every camera, while taking the shot, my lightroom edits turned out to be bright in totally, but because of this I have lost all the details in the sky for example. Even the best gradual filter can not displace your well-thought-about settings while shooting.
The point I want to make here, is that, by learning how to edit your shots from tip to toe, you will also get your shooting to another level, as you will learn what settings will make your editing easier and give you more freedom...
No burnt-out details anymore!
4. Do you understand how your smartphone works (technically) just by using it?
"What has Lightroom to do with my phone, besides there is also a lightroom app for it?". The message of this headline is, that you do not automatically know how hardware or software, you are using, work. Just by filling up my washing machine with washing powder and hitting the "ON" button, I do not exactly know how it works, what processes are taking place and so on.
If you tranform that point to Lightroom, you will only get to know how it works technically, if you engage intensely- means editing from tip to toe, switching between different styles and adjustments as much as taking a look into the histogram, while switching triggers.
Guess what!? There will be a point where you can look at the pictures of your favorite content creators and, I promise, you will know exactly what they have gone through in Lightroom to get that look. Isn't that amazing? It does not only mean, that you have saved a lot of money, but also level up and getting closer to becoming just as good as they are. MIND = BLOWN
5. Taking extra efforts, detours, discipline and time always leads to success
Do you think Lionel Messi became the best soccer player of the world multiple times just by putting on his soccer shoes? Do you think Felix Baumgartner just jumped from outer space, because he can? Or do you think Casey Neistat, LostLeBlanc, Jon Olssen or Sam Kolder became some of the best known content creators (in my niche) just by using presets from others?
I think you already know what it is I wanna talk about. The thing with special abilities is, that you do not get them, you have to learn them. Learning takes time, efforts, motivation and discipline. Of course, I am talking in big scale here, but don't you want your friends saying: Could please help me with editing my sisters wedding pictures? I am not saying this, because it makes you feel better than them or predominant. I am just a person, who likes to help others as well and I also know, that I am not capable of doing everything.
Don't buy presets, thinking of your friends. Everybody need an editor in his/her circle ;)
6. There is only one good preset in the world of presets
I will try to keep it short as you probably are about to throw your presets in the trash and start editing from tip to toe just right now.
The only good preset, is a preset you have created by yourself. Why? Just because you know exactly what it will do to your image and when to use it best. I for myself have saved like four to 5 presets right now. Some I have saved, are editing settings, I thought I would never be able to do them again (never used those presets too much, because I know how to do that special theme by now). Let's say, you have shot a wedding. The outside shots of it have almost the same lightning and predominent colors...what I like to do, is to edit one of those shots and copy and paste the basic configs into the following shots. In that way, I edited one of the shots with the same atmosphere from tip to toe, made the best of it and can tranform that into the other shots with fitting editing on light, colors and stuff.
Do not let paid presets get in the way of a true edit of your shots. Because every applied preset you haven not done by yourself is stealing you the possibility to edit your shots the way you want them to edit.
Thanks for reading and I would love to see some experiences with presets or thoughts on this blog in the comment section below.
Your boy, Tommy.