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Motivation is a photography blog that discusses the creative aspects of photography. The posts will include thoughts about images and their interpretation, photographers and their work, technique, workflow, my ongoing projects, and perhaps even the occasional off topic rant.

I Like It

Lightroom, that is. I like it. Didn't think I would, but I do. I knew I would end up getting it eventually, so I got it about two or three weeks ago, before the price goes up. Sure, there are lots of thing to not like about it (no need to elaborate on them here) and, more than likely, they will be fixed in future versions. Some argue it wasn't yet ready to be released. It was certainly a pain in the butt to take time out and read the requisite Lightroom book or two to learn how it all comes together.

So why do I like it? I had planned on using it mainly as a digital asset manager, but have fallen in love with the develop module and with develop module presets in particular. Now, I know ACR 4.0 in Photoshop CS3 is going to have the same basic develop module....I don't know if the presets are available in the same way that they are in Lightroom. Maybe someone that already has CS3 can fill me in on that.

So what is so great about presets? I find that they really enhance creativity. How so, you ask. At times I may look at an image and think it would look great in a certain way.....high key, infrared, contrasty black and white.....you get the idea. I know Photoshop on an intermediate level, but not so well that I can just make these things happen the way I previsualize them. There are a fair number of presets available for free on the internet that easily integrate right into Lightroom. When you scroll over them with your mouse (without even clicking) in the Develop module, the effect of the preset is seen in the preview panel in all its glory. You can literally visualize fifty presets in a minute or two.

In my mind, the key here isn't that you choose a preset and that's it. At least that's not what I do. If I have a certain idea in mind, I scroll through the presets and find one that approximates what I am previsualizing and use it as a starting point. It is a lot easier to get to your imagined result when you are starting on the right path. It is as if someone gave you a gentle nudge in the right direction and then, at least with an intermediate knowledge of Photoshop and Lightroom, you can get to where you want to be.

Here is an example of what I am talking about.

Lone Tree
Copyright Howard Grill

Not a bad shot, in my opinion. But it didn't pop; didn't have that something that makes the white tree feel as isolated and, at the same time, unique, as I wanted the image to have. One minute of looking through my preset collection gave me what I needed. A digital infrared treatment and then, in the develop module, I could take it from there. Some changes in exposure value, contrast, and vibrancy after applying the preset brought me to what I think conveys the feeling I was after.

Lone Tree
Color Infrared Treatment As A Starting Point
Copyright Howard Grill

Some may say this is 'cheating'. Then again, some think that any use of Photoshop to enhance an image is cheating. I view it as a tool that is helping me to more efficiently get closer to my vision....if that is cheating, so be it. Besides, cheating at art.....I'm not sure I get that. Perhaps a topic for another post.

So, where does one get these presets? Try here and here.

Yup, it sure isn't perfect, but I am enjoying discovering what it can do and how it can get me to where I want to be!