Last Updated: August 7, 2014
The super-popular film simulation presets from VSCO play a large part in my processing workflow, in this article I’m going to share my favourite presets for working with landscapes, with before and after examples of various presets.
There are currently five different film packs available, all of the presets I’ve used in this article are from VSCO 02 (Classic Films) and VSCO 04 (Slide Films). These are the two I find best for nature and landscape photography, whilst I have bought all the packs, the others don’t get nearly as much usage.
VSCO presets for Lightroom are relatively expensive, so if you’re on a limited budget, it’s well worth considering which packs will suit your style of photography best. For those that have never used VSCO presets before it might be worth checking out our VSCO film tutorial first.
VSCO: before and after
For this example, I’m using a shot I recently took at Bedruthan Steps in Cornwall, England. Below is the original unprocessed RAW file in Lightroom, this is completely untouched, VSCO Film presets do work with JPG files, but I would highly recommend working with Raw files for the best possible results.
As you can see, the base Raw file is looking a little flat, so let’s see how it looks with various VSCO film presets applied. First up are a couple of examples that give a more saturated look. The shot below is with the Fuji Provia 100F preset applied.
This next shot has Fuji Velvia 100F applied.
As with all VSCO presets, there are a number of variations on each film style, Velvia 50 is also very popular, but I often find the Velvia presets are more suited to lower-light/golden hour imagery. I tend to prefer more muted tones, but that is just personal taste.
This next preset below is Kodak 400 VC, this is a more toned-down approach which I generally prefer to the above examples, particularly for daytime imagery.
These next two images are with Fuji Superia applied (400 and 1600 respectively), I always find myself coming back to the Superia range of presets. Note that the 1600 version applies quite a lot of grain, so I have removed this with the VSCO toolkit that comes with any Lightroom film pack.
Also remember than if you aren’t entirely happy with the immediate results from any presets, you can still adjust via the regular Lightroom processing tools, as well as the VSCO toolkit, and then save these modified presets in the future.
Of all the Lightroom presets I own, VSCO surely offer the best quality and control, but they are priced accordingly. If it’s a retro-film look you are after, another good alternative is Analog Efex Pro 2, from Nik software. I use this from within Photoshop sometimes and you can get really good results, the film simulation isn’t as ‘authentic’ as VSCO, but it’s still well worth checking out.
How do you process your landscapes, do you use any of the above, or prefer to keep things as natural as possible?