Filter Frenzy

If you looked through my recent photos from Marrakech, you probably noticed that the majority of them had had filters applied. Or, more accurately, Lightroom presets. There are pros and cons to this treatment. They can make an image look better. They can rescue an image that was otherwise blurred or imperfect enough to normally warrant deletion. On the other hand, the effects can sometimes look not so good when the image is viewed on bigger monitors. I noticed some of the Marrakech shots, which looked great on my laptop, did not look quite so great on our 37″ TV. I don’t buy into the purists argument that filters distort an image, disguising the photographers flaws and therefore ruining the photo. At least, I don’t buy that it ruins the photo.

But when looking at those Marrakech shots, do they remind me of what I saw with my own eyes? No, they don’t quite match what I saw. That does trouble me a little. But fortunately, Lightroom doesn’t ‘destroy’ the image. In other words, you can always go back and remove the filter. Even years later. Providing you’ve backed up your catalog. If you haven’t backed up your catalog? Then it’s the changes you’ve made that you lose, not the original photo.

The snap below of Mrs P is, she tells me, the best I’ve ever taken of her. There is a preset applied, although in this instance a very mild one. I have hundreds of presets installed, but there’s about twenty that I use regularly. My favourites. Do you want to try them out? You’ll need Lightroom, of course. Then you can download my Top 20 Lightroom presets by clicking on this link. Save them in a folder somewhere safe. Then, in Lightroom’s Develop module, right click on the User Presets bar on the left of the screen. Import. Point it to the folder of presets. Select them all. Voila. For those of you who are not fans of presets or filters, then I have this set on Flickr, from our recent trip to Marrakech. They all feature Mrs P, occasionally me too. And whilst a couple have had ‘the treatment’, at least half of them are out of the box images. Another 45% have only been cropped or rotated.

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3 comments

  1. I can see why she likes it. That photo makes Mrs. P look like a slim supermodel.

    I have one particularly fetching photo of F which holds similar effects. In his case, it’s more the pose, the color he’s wearing, and the lighting. No filters were used.

    But I’m totally cool with filters. In fact, I’m a big fan of the ones you screw onto the front of your lens. Photography is art. No photograph will ever look like its subject, if only for the reason that the dynamic range on a photograph is WAY less than that of real light, or what your eye can perceive. So filter away. It’s about expression, not documentation.

    This comment would be different if you were photographing bacteria for some sort of scientific publication. But you’re not.

    Saludos,

    Kim G
    Boston, MA
    Where we are in a photographic dry spell.

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