The Self Abstracted: Fun with Presets and Filters

Many years ago, when I completed formal studies in Professional Writing and Editing, it was drilled into the students that we must always be original and unique if we planned on using gradients and filters in software such as Photoshop.  A person who used the standard presets would be seen as a person who did not have the skills to be innovative.

For this reason, I have steadfastly avoided the many smart phone apps which make it easy to use presets and filters.  I saw this as the tool of an amateur. Consequently, I was very surprised to find that students of the Photography and Social Media unit I am currently completing were encouraged to experiment with a number of photograph editing apps which made it so easy to take fun and interesting images using built in presets, or photo editing presets which could be applied with a single click.

With a little trepidation, I downloaded a few of the recommended apps, then through the magic of the online store, was led to similar apps with all kinds of features calling ‘look at me!”

Although every photo I took using a preset from an app felt like cheating, I did experiment quite a bit over the last week or two.  To my surprise, I discovered I liked the abstract quality which presets can bring to a photograph.  In some, it seemed to bring out symbolic meaning.  In others, it accentuated certain features that were usually hidden away.  Depending on the treatment of  tones, shadows and highlights, the topography of the face could look radically different.

This post is short to show some of the results.  In future posts I will write about the apps I used and the features they offer,

Of the images I have included in this post, I like Preset 2 and Preset 3 the best.  Both images show a shadow side to the face.  There is a solemnity and reflective quality which appeals to me. Both images change colour in the top half of the head.  To me, Preset 3 seems to have an explosion of colour around the brain, symbolic of creative ideas, while the eye is clear and watchful – never missing a thing.

I’m still not sure what I think of the apps which feature these presets, but I have to admit I had fun playing around with them.  After all of this, I am interested to know your thoughts about presets and the apps which offer them. Which ones do you use?  Do you use them for fun or for professional projects?  I suspect this isn’t the last post I will write on abstract selfies as the concept has been spinning around in my brain for days.

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