Actions + Presets: How Do You Use Them?

January 15, 2016

By Laura Brauer

We turned to our 30 Rising Stars of 2015 with questions about VSCO, Lightroom, Alien Skin Exposure and their other editing timesavers.

Photo © Meg Van Kampen

The Kitcheners (Dylan and Joanna): We’re big fans of the classic Kodak films, so depending on our frame of mind and the general tones in the photos, we usually switch between the Kodak Portra 160+ and Kodak Portra 400 VSCO 01 film emulations for color, and Kodak Tri-X 400 for black and white. We heavily tweak from there. The look of our images is something we’re always trying to improve, and Dylan, being the self-confessed perfectionist, is always trying to find new ways to tweak our presets.

Meg Van KampenEditing is half of the art, and for me it took a while to figure out what I liked. I really played with all of the presets out there for about two years until I was happy with the results. I mixed a VSCO preset and a Redleaf action for my color and added my own tweaks to achieve the look I wanted. My black and white is a Redleaf preset. They both create a great product.

Photo © Danelle Bohane

How Do You Make Them?

Danelle Bohane: I have made mine through a lot of experimenting over the years and learning what each and every tool does on the develop panel. I think I use a lot of split toning, curve adjustments and also adjust the colors with the HSL [Hue, Saturation and Luminance] panel.

Meg Van Kampen: I have tried making my own presets, but I’m happy with what I‘m using. Who knows, I may switch it up next year. I use Lightroom for the most part and it saves me so much time having my presets ready to go. But, of course, with different lighting there are tweaks here and there.

Photo © The Kitcheners

How Do They Help Your Workflow?

Danelle Bohane: Having saved presets is a complete lifesaver when it comes to being time efficient while editing. I don’t have color temperature and exposures saved in the preset since those are the two main elements that change in images from one to the next.

The Kitcheners: Using the VSCO film presets has improved our workflow tremendously and means that we spend a lot less time tweaking, as a lot of the base work is already done under the hood. We like to keep things as simple as possible, so creating and using a small handful of presets helps keep our workflow process streamlined and ensures that our work has a consistent look.