A little preface to this post. I purchased the VSCO presets for Aperture 3 and am not affiliated with Visual Supply Co. at all. If my opinions seem to be a bit glowing about their product it is because they earned it and not bought it.
**Update** I added a video demo of the presets in action below as well as some before/after images and the images that I used in the video demo. Enjoy!
Just under a year ago I began noticing the name VSCO cropping up more and more from the photographers that I followed online. The images these photographers were producing had been processed using this "VSCO" whatever that was. So being the curious monkey that I am I clicked the link that accompanied many of the photos and I discovered the wonderful world of Visual Supply Co.
Visual Supply Co. produces presets for Lightroom, Adobe Camera Raw, and Aperture 3 (as well as other photo related goodies.). When I fist discovered VSCO they only had presets for LR and ACR, but just recently they released their presets for Aperture 3. I don't want to call this a review exactly but, being the Aperture 3 fan that I am I feel inclined to share as much info as I can about the goodies I come across for other users of the application. So lets dig into it.
First of, a bit more about VSCO. Their goal is to emulate film to as true a degree as possible in the our digital world. It is kind of funny when you think about how far we have come since film, yet the look and feel of film still has it's place in the world. From the playing/testing that I have done with their presets I feel that they have nailed the formula. I should mention that I am not a film aficionado/snob, but I do appreciate the feel it can give an image. Not all images will gain the biggest bang from the presets, but the ones that do simply sing.
VSCO started by offering presets for Lightroom and Adobe Camera Raw. I can say I was pretty jealous that the aperture users of the world were being left out, but in truth we just were not first in line for the goods. I look at it like this.. LR and ACR were simply testing grounds before moving on. None the less, we now have access to the presets, but in a slightly different manner then the LR and ACR folks. Put simply, not all the controls from one application to the next transfer 100%. An example of this is the addition of grain to an image in Aperture 3 is WAY different then in Lightroom. Aperture 3 does not have a built in way to add grain so a workaround in Aperture 3 had to be created. From what I have seen there seems to be very little difference between the final look from Ap3 and Lr, but I have only compared images that I have found online.
Once you have installed the presets you are presented with 2 new options in your preset list. The presets themselves and the VSCO toolkit. The presets are a mix of B&W presets, color presets and the ability to add grain to your images. The toolkit has extra tweaks you can apply to your images to quickly get a finished look. Many of the toolkit presets are standard types of adjustments such as contrast, saturation, vignette and clarity. It is nice to have them so you can quickly make adjustments to images, but the real gems are the more "character" based presets. Options like creamy highlights, shadow tinting/fixing, orange skin fixing and fading can definitely add or fix a lot of things. They also have their own settings for white balance which feel a bit better then the defaults ones offered with aperture 3.
The look from these presets is amazing. I honestly didn't think it was possibly to get the degree of adjustment they have formulated in Aperture 3. I would always send an image into photoshop or a plugin to get a film look, but that won't be the case any more. Another thing that I have found since using the presets is how consistent they are. Once you get used to how each of the film presets will apply to an image you will be able to know which films will look best for which photos.
The one side effect of these presets that I was not expecting is its perspective changing effect. By that I mean the way I have changed my perspective on shooting. Honestly I have been in a slump lately. The weather has been horrible and the types of things I have been wanting to shoot have not been coming up. After I got the presets I was tired of testing them out on old photos from last year. I was inspired by the photos that others were making and processing with VSCO presets. My photos are not world changing, but they are workflow changing. I tend to spend a lot more time "playing" with photos then I should when I process them. I LOVE the look from these photos so much that I feel I will be shooting more and processing less because of them. I have found a look that I feel fits the kind of photos I like to make. I have also been learning which photos will look the best after applying a preset so that also helps to define what I shot and how I do it.
I guess if this was a review I should end it with some sort of conclusion. Ok.. fair enough. VSCO presets for Aperture 3 are some of the BEST and most FUN additions that I have used in a LONG TIME! I HIGHLY recommend checking out their site and the video that they have put together for Aperture 3 users. It outlines the use of the presets, some general guidelines, and techniques. I can not tell you if their presets will do wonders for your images, but if you like the look of film and want to edit photos quickly then they are probably a good investment for you. I could also say they their presets KICK ASS and you will LOVE them, but I will let you be the judge of that. ;)
Now time for the good stuff.. examples. I am working on a mini review/live demo of their presets that I will be posting shortly as well. Feel free to leave questions or comments below.
Here are the images that I used the video demo. I included straight out of camera before images and the finals after I used the VSCO presets.