The Trouble with Presets

There are a ton of new photo enhancing software packages coming out now.  There are some pretty big names putting their foot forward and, like a Phoenix from the ashes, an old friend has been reborn.  This last reference is to the Nik collection of software that has lived a precarious life as an editing program that has been sold from one company to the next, given away to anyone who wanted it for a while, then eventually killed by its developer and left for dead.  With this track record it’s probably easy to think it was junk, but quite the opposite is true.  This suite of programs was used universally by countless photographers, including myself, and seemed to be everyone’s favorite secondary processor after the 800 pound gorilla that is Photoshop.

With all this attention to secondary image processors comes a concern from myself.  Most of these programs deal with Presets, or filters.  This basically means that the program applies a host of global edits to your photo to give it a variety of “looks”.  This could be anything from a retro look, to a high contrast black and white, to a host of film emulations with color casts, blurs, and vignettes added.  This is all well and good, and I don’t deny that sometimes you can be taken aback by the results of these presets, but overall I give them a thumbs down.  I feel they squash the creative process.  I don’t see any true expression coming from the clicking of a button and seeing 20 potential developing scenarios to scroll through.  To be fair, you have countless ways to tweak these effects, but in the end they are all based on these original fundamental presets.  Where’s the exploration?  Where’s the experimentation?  Where’s the risk?  This make photo processing expedient and safe.  There is no journey to this process.  It’s just not for me.  I’ve never used one and probably won’t any time soon.

I suppose there is some value in seeing what “could be”, and yes, there are some wild presets out there, put forth by these software companies and photographers who will sell you whole galleries of these things to use in the programs.  In the end however, the result is someone else’s vision.  Maybe I’m missing something, what do you think?

Enjoy today’s picture.  It’s an image I got recently on a late afternoon walk in a nearby park.  I love this time of year.  Photography is almost simple with all the beauty created by the fall colors.  I hope you like it!!

Until next time…all the best!!!


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