If you are shooting for stock photography, following visual trends in advertising and online use is a crucial part. As is managing your image workflows, and Lightroom is an essential part of me and many other stock photographers in this workflow. Using Presets to quickly create certain looks for your images can help gain speed in creating more images quicker. I tried many available presets, free and paid ones. Some of them just destroy your image to an extent that you can’t publish them anywhere except on a mobile sharing platform with tiny previews. Others offer a quality result that allow you to offer images everywhere.
Why and how to use presets in Lightroom
For me, presets are an easy way to quickly try different looks to find out which final look might suit an image best. With a few clicks, I can test a dozen or more combinations of color and contrast changes. It usually doesn’t mean my image is going to end in the way a preset provides but I can get a base for my further edits easily and quickly. It is perfectly acceptable not to use any presets ever, and there is no “secret” embedded that you couldn’t achieve with manipulating the image with Lightroom – or even without it. But to process lots of images in an efficient manner, for everyone using Lightroom as their main workflow tool, presets are something to look into. Even if you can’t find ones that you like, generating your own presets will help you become more efficient.
In case of the presets from Totally Rad! Inc., an installer will automatically move the presets into the Lightroom folders (hint: Make sure that “Store presets with catalog” in Lightrooms Preferences in the Preset tab is turned off to use those presets).
Once presets are installed and available in your Lightroom copy, it’s a matter of clicking through those presets to find the likes that you like most.
For comparison of different looks, Lightroom offers a feature called “Virtual Copies”. As Lightroom does not actually change your base image, it just generates a second processing version for the same photo if you create a virtual copy. You can create and delete copies easily and even have multiple version of the same image in your catalog without using extra hard disk space.
As you can see from the list above, the variations within Replichrome III are huge and most likely there are lots that don’t cater your personal taste. Most likely you will limit yourself to a certain subset of those presets that you keep using again and again once you figured out where and how they match your style of photography.
Using Replichrome III by Totally Rad!
With the first two packages of Replichrome presets Totally Rad! has published the most popular and standard analog film emulations, Replichrome I (*) contains films like the Kodak Portra and Fuji Pro series, Replichrome II offers looks emulated from classic slide films like the Fuji Provia and Sensia and several Kodak films. With Replichrome III, Totally Rad! now generated presets replicating the looks from lesser known and some older films like several from Konica. If you grew up in Europe in the 1970’s and 80’s like me, there is a good chance that the Agfa films will remind you of those decades.
The more exotic films like “Orwocolor” or “VIP 100” are making even more dramtic changes to the colors in your images. I have hard times imagining that those sets will be usable for stock photography, at least not for a large customer base.
Besides the films (which all come in different process versions and replicated from two different scanners, so in themselves offer a huge variety of options), Totally Rad! offers a set of Tweaks to the resulting image. Adding a certain curve or enhancing skin or sky colors in addition to the base presets can help achieve a better final look.
Using presets – and Replichrome III – for stock photography
For stock photography, we are used to provide the highest technical quality to agencies. We are typically aware that a variety of customers want a variety of looks and we mostly should provide a generic look with clean colors. However, images coming out of digital cameras are rarely attractive and there are lots of chances to make our photos “pop”. And the rise of mobile photography and filter apps emulating some film looks, the need of customers to find the same style of images has risen as well.
Not every image we shoot is suitable for a “film look”. You need to consider already when shooting which images you want to process this way. The colors in your image needs to match what the preset is going to do with them. So like with all processing methods, you need to learn to keep the presets to images that are suitable raw material for the changes.
There are a couple of presets in the kit that are unlikely to be usable for stock as they dramatically change colors and/or add too much grain to an image. However, there is always another option: All those changes are just changes to the same sliders in Lightroom that you can manipulate yourself. So if you find you like a certain look but the film preset adds too much grain for your taste, it isn’t a big problem to just turn down the Grain sliders in the Develop module.
Yet another “trick”: You can create a virtual copy of your image, keep the original and tweak the copy. If you then select both versions and choose “Open In – Edit as Layers in Photoshop”, you will be able to mix and match the versions by changing the blending modes or the opacity. This way you can just use “50% of the Kodak Pro 160” in your final result.
I hope this will help you decide if integrating presets in your workflow is a good idea for your style of photography. I’d be happy to hear from you if you use presets yourself (be it from TotallyRad! or somewhere else) and share your experiences with me and my friends on Facebook.
You might also want to read a more thorough review of the Replichrome III presets by fellow Stocksy United photographer Holly Clark (soupatraveler) on ViewFinders: http://viewfinders.io/2015/05/rare-film-from-totally-rad-replichrome-iii-archive/
* Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of the Replichrome III presets by Totally Rad! Inc. for review purposes. There was no obligation nor financial compensation for this review, though. The links to the Totally Rad! Inc. in this article are affiliate links and I will receive compensation if you decide to purchase any of their products.