Working With Presets

Well, I’ve just discovered the value of presets!

For those of you unfamilar with Photoshop or Lightroom – or other photo processing tools – a preset is a collection of settings that you can apply with one click to get a certain effect to the photo you’re working on. It can range from simple sharpening or colour de-saturation to quite complicated and arty effects.

Presets are very popular with event photographers because, once you get the look you want, you can simply apply it effortlessly to the several hundred photos you’ve decided to keep. This insures the uniform look your client probably expects. They’re also popular with people who are looking to stay consistent with a particular style. Basically they’re a great way to get uniform, quality effects…fast. Very important for professional photographers. (And for us busy amateurs.)

I imagine most pro photographers develop and use their own presets, but there is also a community of sharing these presets for fun or profit.

Naturally, as with everything online, presets come with many discussion points. Is it cheating to use a preset you didn’t develop? Are you stealing someone’s style, their trademark? Even though they are offering it up for free? Are you riding on someone else’s talent? Being lazy?

(Bear with me, you know that every new thing I do brings up a multitude of ethical and esoteric, philosophical hand-wringing; it’s just how I am!)

Personally I think it’s just another way of learning from the masters.

My confidence level about my processing choices varies from day to day. Am I over-sharpening? Am I applying too much colour, or getting heavy-handed on the contrast?

Sure, photography is all about taste and style. If I like the result, then that should be good enough, right?

Well, no. Not if I want to learn, improve and continue to challenge myself. Not if I want to move beyond the realm of intermediate-photographer-with-potential.

In the end I’m happy with using presets. As a starting point. As a suggestion. I apply, I judge, I adjust to taste. I learn more each time I enter into the process.

Hmmm, just like a recipe for lasagna or cookies. And no one thinks twice about using someone else’s recipe, do they? They just know when to give credit to the original.

In the next few posts I’ll link to some of the people who’s presets have proven useful to me. It’s the least I can do.

In the meantime, enjoy this one, processed with a preset from Matt Kloskowski of

Thanks Matt for getting me started into the useful, and creative, world of presets.

Using Matt Kloskowski’s warm and fuzzy preset to get that soft summery feel.

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