Samgold Photography | Portrait Photographer | Orlando, Florida

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PBCM Fashion Presets: Review and Application to Non-Fashion Photography


I am far from an editorial or fashion photographer, but a review by the Phoblographer on Chris Martin's (PBCM) fashion presets made me want to give them a shot. I likes the sample images and the presets are relatively cheap ($25), so I figured it was not a huge investment risk and made the purchase. I like using presets in Lightroom and in addition to some I acquired from Shotslot, I have made several of my own that I use as a general primer for editing. I have also gotten some film emulating ones but do not use them very often. So how do Martin's Fashion presets hold up? My initial concern about them not being applicable to my photos completely evaporated after playing with these presets for a day and my conclusion after using them for a while is that they are GREAT! The Phoblographer did a good job of showing what they can do for your fashion photography so I will not go into that (plus I have no sample photos). Instead, I wanted to show some examples of how I have applied them to other types of photography. Before I go into any detail, I wanted to share my workflow before applying these presets and provide an example of what each of the filters does. This is not a typical fashion shot (see Phoblographer review if interested in that), however, I did use an off camera flash to expose Reville and was working with the MZD 45mm f/1.8, a sharp portrait lens.

RAW
After white balance and eye enhancement and cropping
When applying Martin's presets I have found it is best practice to correct your white balance before-hand as the presets do not alter this facet of your photograph. As you can see in the RAW image, the white regions of Reville's coat had a strong blue cast to them. To fix this I simply enabled Lightroom's WB dropper tool and clicked on Reville's chest which automatically removed the blue cast. Not just for these presets, but in general, adjusting white balance is an easy way to take more control over your images. When I first ventured into post processing I often forgot this step, but have trained myself to adjust white balance as soon as I begin to edit a photo. I also cropped the photo and enhanced the eyes using Lightroom's adjustment brush. This is going to be a lot of cat, but here are the preset renderings:

Fashion POP (Neutral)
Black and White POP
Blue POP

Green POP
Magenta POP
Yellow POP
As you can see, overall the presets add a bit of contrast and clarity to your image and the Blue-Green-Magenta-Yellow varieties cast a different color tone to the photo's highlights. My favorite for this image were B&W and yellow as they were the most natural, but the others also gave neat results if you were wanting a more cross processed look. I have found the neutral preset to work great as a quick way to add some punch to everyday photos. Overall, the effects of this preset are subtle, but if your initial photo is properly exposed, you are only one click away from taking your photo from meh-RAW-land to export-me-now-awesomeness.






The sample images above were taken when I reviewed the meike extension tubes and were exposed using the EM5's diffused kit flash. The only adjustments I made to the photos before applying the neutral (or Fashion POP) preset and exporting them were to correct the white balance. The first and last of these photos were a bit overexposed and I could have fine-tuned a little further, but even "as is" results are good and in the future I will probably apply this preset to all my photos while importing them. I also like the black and white converter, but here I suggest that you go through and alter the color channels individually after conversion to fine tune your output. This is not necessarily because of the preset, it is just how I prefer to process black and white imagery and skipping this step will result in perfectly usable results.






Again, if your photo is properly exposed then Martin's black and white preset will render good results and give your photo just the right amount of punch. Unlike the neutral and B&W presets, I found more thought needed to be put into using the colored presets on my general photography. What I did learn while experimenting however, was that they are especially useful for adding a very unique touch to product photography.

Blue POP
Magenta POP
Yellow POP
Green POP
Yellow POP
Magenta POP
Blue POP
I think the colored presets work great here because in a way, product is like fashion photography but on a smaller scale. The thing to remember is if you want to have good results immediately when using these, you need to nail your exposure in camera. Also, if you refer back to the comparison images of my cat (and the photo of the Olympus body cap lens above), you can see that the Blue POP preset has the greatest impact on a photo's shadows. To salvage some of the detail in these areas after applying Blue POP simply adjust the "shadows" and or "blacks" slider in Lightroom 4 to your liking. In addition to product photography, I was surprised by how much I liked the results when presets were applied to landscapes (well... seascapes actually) and other random photos that I have recently taken around the vessel I am on. Application to these types of photos will not appeal to everyone, but if the idea of a funky photo peaks your interest then LOOK ON!!

Green POP
Yellow POP
Blue POP
Green POP
Magenta POP
Yellow POP
Magenta POP
Green POP
Yellow POP
Magenta POP
Blue POP*
Again, those concerned with preserving the fidelity of their photos are probably not going to be impressed with the use of Marin's colored presets for their landscape or general photography. If you are one of these people, you still may want to consider the package for the neutral or black and white presets which I have found to be an excellent addition to my post processing workflow. One thing that I like about presets is that they are highly customizable after you apply them. For example, in the photo above (*) I adjusted it's tone curve to give the dark areas a blue cast which I think gave the photo some additonal character on top of Blue POP. I am obviously a fan and think that for $25 Chris Martin's presets are a steal. They can easily be applied to non-fashion photography and will give your photos that retro "instagram" look on steroids. Using them has made me want to try PBCM's "Summer" preset package, however, the muted look has never been my style so I am more hesitant to purchase them. Anyhow, if you are looking to support a fellow photographer, enjoy using Lightroom presets, and like some of what I have presented, "Fashion POP" just might be something you will end up loving!!!

Sam D.