The Importance of Settings Presets

Between writing my eBooks and teaching my photography workshops, I’ve used a lot of processing tools in a variety of ways.  Usually, when I’m teaching, my students will be frantically writing down settings that I use to try to remember the various techniques for sharpening or color enhancement.  Certainly, it’s important to keep notes of the settings that you use often, but many people overlook the simplest way of them all to maintain your commonly used settings– saving presets.

Let’s face it, post-processing isn’t something that we want to spend hours doing.  Time saved in post can be time used for making more photographs.  Almost every image editing suite I’ve used offers the option of saving custom settings so that the next time you edit an image, you can quickly reproduce the exact color or sharpness setting that you took hours to create the day before.

The mechanism by which you store saved settings will depend on your editor, so you’ll need to familiarize yourself with the appropriate help topics or the user manual to determine the way to save settings.  Once you do that, you can quickly reproduce certain “looks” and other effects without having to consult your handwritten notes.  The other nice thing about using presets is that they provide you with a viable starting point for further fine-tuning.  For example, you might have a generic tone curve that you use to adjust image contrast for portraits.  Once you apply the basic tone curve, you can tweak it to suit the nuances of your specific image.  Other times, the factory default settings can be a bit extreme, and a user-defined preset can allow you to use a tool with a starting point that is more to your liking.  Often time you’ll see this with special effects filters.

Good candidates for saved presets:

  • Sharpening: USM, High Pass, or Smart Sharpen
  • Levels & Curves (contrast)
  • Saturation/Vibrance (color)
  • Black & White conversion
  • Special Effects filters
When a tool lets you save your settings, take advantage of this time-saving feature!

Happy shooting!


Meet me in Connecticut for workshops and seminars!

I’ve been invited to visit Connecticut this September to present a series of digital photography seminars and workshops.  Thanks to the fine folks at Milford Photo, I’ll be traveling to present three days of photographic instruction.  I can’t wait to get out there and meet you!

Friday, September 10th, 7-9pm The Magic of Digital Landscape Photography (Free Seminar)
Click here to RSVP

Saturday, Sept. 11th, 7am-2pm: Photo shoot and digital post-processing workshop (Shooting fees: $79.95/person)
Click here to register online

Sunday, Sept. 12th, 8am-4:30pm: The Capture NX2 Master Class (Workshop fees: $149.99/person)
Click here to register online

New online classes for summer!

Stop fooling around and get into one of Jason's classes!

I’ve just rolled out my online class schedule for July and August.  In addition to my popular classes on Capture NX2 and NEF-Centric workflow, I’ve added two new “mini-workshops” on HDR techniques and image sharpening. These classes are virtual; you participate live via the Internet and you can ask questions via telephone or VOIP.  Enrollment is limited; so be sure to register quickly before they sell out.

Luminescence of Nature Class Schedule (All times US Eastern)

I hope to meet you soon at one of my summer classes!


Shooting in Cheyenne Canyon

At 6000′ (or more) of elevation, Colorado Springs is closer to a desert than it is to the Pacific Northwest.  But after a good rain, if you visit North Cheyenne Canyon, you can get some shots that are pretty amazing if the weather is right.  By “right,” I mean gloomy, rainy, overcast weather.  These conditions are usually pretty rare here, but every now and then you get lucky.  I shot in Cheyenne Canyon a few weeks ago while leading a workshop on landscape photography; here are some of my shots (Click to see a larger image).  If you go, hope for an overcast day, and bring your polarizing filter!

Helen Hunt Falls
Flowing stream

Branch and stream

Wild rose blossom
Mule Deer

Thanks for looking!


Free Webinars Hosted by NIK Software

I’ve been invited by Nik Software to present a free, one-hour webinar on processing landscape photographs using Capture NX2. I’ll be presenting the webinar on Tuesday, June 15th at 2:30pm PDT and again on Friday, June 18th at 2:30pm PDT.  Registration is free. If you have been reading my new Landscape Guide, here’s an opportunity to reinforce some of the post-processing techniques I describe in Section III.

Remember, you can get a 15% discount on any NIK Software (USA) purchase by using the discount code “JODELL” in the NIK online shop.

Course Outline

  • The components of great landscape images, and what you can learn from film
  • Re-creating the “Velvia” look with the LCH editor
  • Local editing to enhance subjects
  • Sharpening settings for landscapes
  • Nik Color Efex Pro 3 for landscapes

See you online!