As many of you may recall, I’ve been a long time user of Mastin Labs presets as the base for most of my editing workflow. What you may NOT know however is that before getting into Mastin Labs, I had purchased a set of presets from the amazing Rebecca Lily. It was the Pro Set III pack and I remembered how absolutely mesmerizing I found all of the sample images on both her website and from other photographers whose work I was seeing. So I pulled the trigger, pulled out the credit card and made the purchase.
Then I played with the presets non stop on my images for about 3 days and became super frustrated….
I felt like I just couldn’t make them work for my images…every now and then I’d get lucky and I’d like an edit using the Rebecca Lily system, but most often it was just frustrating and I couldn’t figure out why. Then I found Mastin Labs and felt at home.
Until I saw sample images start showing up online for Rebecca Lily Pro Set IV and once again I was completely captivated. I loved the way all of these sample photos looked and I had learned a thing or two about my photography so, after a little thought and a lot of hesitation, I pulled the trigger again and purchased Pro Set IV.
Now if you were waiting for the part of the article where I say, “I purchased Pro Set IV and it suddenly clicked and now my editing world was completely solved! It’s like a slice of Heaven in a preset!“….well….sadly that didn’t happen. Unfortunately I had the same experience with this newest Pro Set IV. I just couldn’t seem to make it work. But after putting it aside for a while and continuing to use Mastin Labs daily, it kept nagging at me that I had to be missing something with those Rebecca Lily preset packs.
So I slowly started to take time to experiment with them. To learn what each one of the presets was doing to my photos and to understand what the multitude of presets actually were. You see, within the Rebecca Lily preset packs you end up with something like 167 different variations on the presets that you have at your fingertips…within each preset pack… Compare that with Mastin and how very limited your options are and it was no wonder I was having trouble. I also had to learn and understand that while Mastin was centered around giving you true to life film stock emulations, including color palette, Rebecca Lily was a full on color grading suite of tools. Within those tools were a huge number of very subtle variations on themes, from pastels and bright colors to dark and moody, and I just needed to spend more time learning the tools.
AND THAT’S WHEN I HAD THAT A HA MOMENT!
As with anything worth doing, you have to work at it. You have to take time to learn and understand it. Maybe I’m just dumber than most, but for some reason it took me a while to learn and understand how the Rebecca Lily Presets work. With a little patience (no pun intended) and practice it began to click and now I have to say that Rebecca Lily is a permanent part of my toolbox right alongside Mastin Labs. I won’t say one is better than the other, they are just different in their approach. But I will say Rebecca Lily gives much finer control over the use of color to impact the mood and feeling of my photographs, which I really enjoy. There really is something special about the way subtle color shifts and tints just seem to peek into my images using these presets. Nothing ever feels overprocessed, nothing feels heavy handed. It’s a very invisible editing approach, which if you read my article about Chasing Trends, you’ll know I’m a huge advocate of because my personal opinion is that for a photograph to be great you can’t notice the editing that has been done, the subject, mood and emotional tone/connection are what have to shine. Rebecca Lily Premium Color Grading presets allow that to happen beautifully, with a huge variety of options to help you convey whatever mood or emotional tone you are trying to get across in your photographs.
WOW! That’s enough of me blabbing on. Let’s look at the photos already! Quick side note. All of the following photos are processed using Rebecca Lily Pro Set IV and made using Fuji X Series cameras and lenses. They cover a variety of subjects and moods to show the real versatility of these presets.
I had a conversation with the creator of the Rebecca Lily Premium Color Grading system, a fantastic photographer named Rebecca Patience who you can find on TWITTER or INSTAGRAM, and she was so incredibly helpful and kind as I tried to figure this out. She told me that she knows her system can have a little bit of a learning curve. She is correct, but once you start to grasp it, to understand the subtle changes, they begin to sing. The way they use allow such precise control over the colors, enhancing the mood and feeling my photos is really something special.
Yes, they have a bit of a learning curve, but it’s 100% worth taking the time to learn because it doesn’t apply a heavy handed smashing of your pixels like so many presets and filters, rather it gives a nice gentle nudge to leave you with a very natural feeling image in which you don’t notice the actual edits. You are left with just a nice clean image that uses color so spectacularly to enhance the natural beauty that made you point your camera at the scene in the first place.
If you are looking for another great set of tools to help you enhance your photos without making them look over processed, if you take your approach to color in your photographs(along with the use of tone and mood for both black and white and color photographs) I highly recommend you check out the Rebecca Lily Premium Color Grading System.
**Full disclosure- I am not a paid spokesperson for Rebecca Lily. I did not receive a free or discounted version of the presets to review. I DID spend my own hard earned money to purchase the 2 preset packs for myself and all thoughts contained in this article are my own.