Memory v Masterpiece

I recently rediscovered a cache of forgotten photos on a CD from a trip to Mexico in 2003. What to do with them? Well, get them all uploaded to Flickr, obviously. But how much did I want to ‘play about’ with them? For the last six months or so I have been going crazy with filters (or more correctly, presets) in Lightroom. Filters are the lazy mans way to create cool photographs without having to worry about owning decent equipment, having any talent or even using ones imagination.


I am sure my photographs are cooler for all those filters I’ve applied. But those rediscovered photos had me thinking. They contained so many memories. Did I want to play about with them? After all, the application of creative filters distorts the image. It recreates a scene, turning it into something that never was. It’s for artistic purposes only. You gain your masterpiece, but lose a memory.


In the end, I applied some sensible post processing – cropping, added contrast and the such. And left it at that. I uploaded the results to Flickr. Then I went back and did my filter thang on a select bunch of them. The best of both worlds. I have unlimited space to upload onto Flickr, so what the heck – duplication is fine!


This exercise has given me a bit of food for thought as to how I approach my photography though. The snaps I take today have little to no nostalgia attached to them. But a decade or more down the road, they will be priceless snapshots of life long ago. Do I want sets on Flickr full of masterpieces or sets full of memories? I must give this some thought and find a balance.


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.



London Presets

I’ve been adding to my collection of photos of London, using a variety of Lightroom presets – click here to see the set. How good is Lightroom? I love to experiment with new tech. I flitter between Apple, Google and Microsoft products. I’ve swapped from MyOpera to Blogger to WordPress. I use different video editing software from time to time. But I’ve never, ever been even remotely tempted to switch away from Adobe Lightroom. Ever. It’s the most slick piece of software of any kind of the market.