Style vs. composition adjustments

There are over 100 ways to edit a photo using Adobe Lightroom, but I like to categorize all of these into 2 groups: style adjustments and composition adjustments. Understanding this distinction also helps you better understand how my VHP presets are built.

Style Adjustments 

These are the settings that affect aesthetic characteristics of a photo. This typically includes the settings under the Basics, Tone Curve, HSL / Color / B&W, and Split Toning panels. In other words, style adjustments focus on how a photo looks without changing what’s in the photo.

Composition Adjustments

In contrast, composition adjustments affect elements in the photo either by adding, removing, or altering them. The most obvious settings in this category are those under the Lens Corrections and Transform panels because they alter the shape of the photo itself. Local adjustments through tools like the spot remover, graduated filters, or radial filters are also considered compositional adjustments because they can remove or add elements to the photo.

How VHP presets are built

The goal of a preset is to give a photo a unique and opinionated style. However, since every photo is shot differently, it’s nearly impossible to make assumptions about the intended final composition that a photographer or photo editor might want. As such, my VHP presets only affect style adjustments, leaving composition decisions in the hands of the creative.

There are, however, two exceptions to this approach. In addition to composition adjustments, VHP presets also exclude white balance and exposure.

The reason is simple: the white balance and exposure settings of a photo varies greatly on what, where, and how you’re shooting. For example, I personally leave my camera’s white balance on auto and always under expose my shots. Other photographers may do something different. This makes it harder for me to make an assumption on whether your photo always needs to be brightened or darkened, or made warmer or colder. As a result, I exclude both white balance and exposure from my presets.

If you're interested in learning more about my presets, you can check out my first set, VHP 01. Not sure what a preset is? I got you.

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