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Day 25/365: Learning from Lightroom Presets

Today was mostly spent stripping the house of Christmas. It was a depressing and laborious task which failed to inspire me to take any photos. It was dark by the time I took up my camera and I grabbed a few quick shots of Bear and my wooden carved horse. The light and white balance were dreadful and the pictures were full of horrible noise and downward casting shadows. Last year I would have converted them to black and white but this year I am going to do something a little different with these kinds of throw away photos. I have mentioned before that I struggle with presets because they feel like cheating - a bit like filters on Instagram. I am happy to use filters on Instagram but somehow I expect more of myself when I use the DSLR. However I figure that if I use the presets I like and study how it is achieved, then I can consider it a useful learning exercise. I like to try to guess what has been done to the photo before I scan down the develop options. 

I have obtained a few free presets from various sources. The ones I have chosen tonight came from a recent issue of Digital Photo magazine. I love that magazine by the way. 

First up we have a preset named Beatnik Blues

In the basic panel:
White balance is slightly cooled with a green tint
Contrast is pushed way up 
Highlights are pulled down while Whites are pushed up
Shadows get a little bump
Clarity, Vibrance and Saturation are all pulled down

In the tone curve panel:
I don't know how to describe it but the blacks are dragged up the left of the tone curve and the highlights are dragged down the right of the curve. This is what gives it the matte effect. 

In the HSL panel:
The orange hue is pulled down a little but then boosted in saturation and luminance. This really brightens her skin tone, but I think that she looks a little too orange here. 

In the split toning panel:
No change.

In the detail panel:
Sharpening gets a major boost. 
The radius is lifted (I don't even know what that does!)
I added a little noise reduction

In the effects panel:
There is a heavy dark vignette added
No grain

I went a totally different direction for the next edit. This one is called Blue Coral Split. Straight away I am thinking that there is a big split toning component to this edit.

In the basic panel:
White balance is warmed up and tint left unchanged
Contrast is way up
Highlights are dragged down to min
Shadows are pulled up to max
Whites get a bump
Blacks are pulled down a bit

In the tone curve panel:
No change - linear curve

In the B&W panel:
So many changes!! 
Warmer colours such as red, orange, yellow and magenta are slightly boosted
Cooler colours such as green, aqua and blue are pulled down. Blue very much so. 

In the split toning panel:
As suspected, there is a lot going on here. 
Highlights are given an orangey brown hue with lots of saturation
Shadows are given a lovely dusky blue shade with lots of saturation.
I think that I am starting to get the idea behind split toning. 

In the detail panel:
Lightly sharpened 
No noise reduction

In the effects panel:
A modest dark vignette 
A modest amount of grain added - size and roughness also pushed up a little

So there we have it! I found that to be a very interesting exercise because I would never think to edit my photos in this way but I like the end results. I generally tend to go very easy on contrast and sharpening and stay completely clear of split toning. I also lack confidence in the HSL panel and skim over it. 

I am thinking that in order to develop a personal style then you do need to go a little bolder with your edits. It's a whole new world...