I feel like I've been harshing on everyone's mellow, especially when it comes to Lightroom. I've only ever had beef with those who claim that they are "photography experts" despite only knowing how to put filters on in Lightroom. Lightroom has a vital function in editing, but in my view it shouldn't necessarily be the only editing software we use.
I actually like Lightroom for the most part, and it's always the starting point for my photos. It's great for organizing and small tweaks, creating the foundation for when I inevitably import it into Photoshop.
Presets are almost always the beginning point of editing for me. I've made a bunch that speed up editing, and then I go from there. Usually, it's hard to rely on a preset to wholly edit a photo for me, but it has happened before.
Lately, I've been returning to daily photography uploading (more on that later), and Lightroom has been essential for the look and feel of my daily Instagram photos.
Yesterday, I confessed my love of cinematography and how it got me deeper into photography in the first place. My photos have always, in my head at least, always tried to capture a "still" of a greater narrative of my life. Since we are such a movie-heavy culture, seeing life as a movie is something that many of us do anyway, and I'm guilty of such a thing. It wasn't until recently that I've jumped deeper and begun experimenting with that idea.
There's a whole world of filmmakers with Instagram accounts that post "stills" as well. The king of them is probably Ryan Booth, a filmmaker who shares my love of dark tones and shadows.
He's the reason I went to the 16:9 crop. You could argue that lately, I've been replicating him a little bit as I'm feeling my way around this little experiment. He revealed that he takes a photo with his mirrorless camera, imports it to his phone and then uses the VSCO app to apply a filter and boom, done.
For me, his style is a great starting point. I'm already partial to embracing the shadows, but I don't care for street photography, I'd rather just capture the people in my own life. What really blew my mind was how he used VSCO filters for color grading his "stills".
Most movies and TV shows now use tones similar to what he's using, which is probably what rubbed off on him. Breaking Bad, for instance, is a prime example for location-based color grading.
To convey the heat of the desert, scenes are color coated with a lot of yellows and oranges. When Walt is inside his meth lab, there are a lot of blues and cooler tones. Magic Mike uses a lot of yellows to enhance the beach-y-ness of it all, but in Magic Mike XXL they go to Georgia, and it has a cooler look to it. This is something I've always admired about movies today: the creative use of, well, filters.
In a photography class I took years ago, my professor used to say "Don't use Black and White unless you have a good reason." To this day I carry that with me with any filter I use. What am I trying to convey and how does that filter or preset help me with that? With my professional work, I ask "What preset will help the skin tones?" and with Instagram, "What preset communicates what I'm feeling in that moment about the location I'm in?"
What if I'm at the beach in South Florida and it's super hot? Maybe I need to add warmness with a preset. (I'm working on a Magic Mike style preset right now) What if it just snowed? Then I probably need to use some more Ryan Booth-esque blues.
Presets and filters are fun, but they should also help communicate what the content in the photo is also trying to communicate.
Most of my photos will be in Chattanooga, so how can I better encapsulate this mountain-city with my use of filters or presets? That's what I'm working towards on Instagram right now.