File this under the “I’m not quite sure how I feel about this” category.
I read an article on a new functionality that is cropping up on the world wide web. It’s appearance was innocuous enough but, upon sufficient reflection, including furrowed brows and a look of stern consternation, I have decided it bothers me.
You see a wonderful picture on Flickr. You admire what the photographer has done with the image and wonder at the hidden secrets of image editing that have occurred to produce this image. You look a little farther and see that the photographer has included his or her metadata in the exported file. You take that photo’s link and place it in the dialog at http://lrpreset.appspot.com/ and wait for the magic to happen.
If all goes as planned, a Lightroom preset will be created that will attempt to duplicate the steps that went into the processing of this photographer’s RAW file based upon the metadata. You can download this preset to your local computer. Presumably, you could take this preset into Lightroom and use it to edit your own files and potentially mimic the look-and-feel of the original image.
To be fair, you do have the option of not exporting metadata on your Lightroom-created JPGs. You also have the option not to display metadata in Flickr. So, there are two stops along the way to prevent someone from borrowing your editing techniques and applying them effortlessly to thousands of images. Also, editing done outside of Lightroom is not necessarily available to the process. I guess if you want to include the data and make it visible for all, it is like leaving your wireless router’s SSID broadcasting and unsecure. You are inviting people in by indifference.
First, I thought it was cool. Wow, how amazing is that that you can grab someone’s editing workflow and apply it?
Second, I thought it was lame. Every image is different. How useful can it be?
Third, I thought it was scary. Yes every image is different but there are certain techniques I have developed and use repeatedly. I don’t necessarily want to dilute my brand by advertising my process.
Fourth, I thought it might be illegal. Is the editing process – individual style – if you will, copyrightable?
I am still not certain how I feel about the automated borrowing of image editing workflow. One side says, what’s the harm? and the other side says, intellectual property. As image editing software becomes more sophisticated and puts in things like snapshots and other housekeeping items, how long will it be before our entire processes could be laid bare to probing eyes?
Perhaps I will set up a dummy Flickr account and test the usefulness and/or harmlessness of this process.
What do you think?
Rikk Flohr © 2009