Every VSCO Preset and What Photography They’re Best For

5 minute read
| Deep Dive

Before VSCO X, the company’s membership program, users got a certain selection of presets free, and then you could pay for individual series. Now people get 10 free presets, called classic presets, and the rest are included in VSCO X.

Last year I put together a list of all the Film X presets and what kind of subject matter they improve. With this article I’ll do the same for the classic presets, because it’s not immediately obvious what they’re good at, other than, “This looks good” or “This doesn’t look good.” I’ve also created public Google Docs, one for Film X presets and another for classic presets.

All of this information has been collected from the VSCO website over the past couple years.

Series

Artificial Light (AL1-AL6)

This preset pack softens or boosts the effects of LED, fluorescent, and mixed lighting scenarios. Ideal for indoor, food, and night photography, use AL1-AL6 to transform artificial light within your image.

  • AL1—LED Soften: Correct overly yellow and orange hues with AL1 to achieve a softer, more inviting scene.
  • AL2—LED Boost: For a warm edit, AL2 emphasizes yellow tones caused by LED lighting, while increasing color contrast in heavy shadows.
  • AL3—Fluorescent Soften: When shooting under fluorescent lighting, such as in stores or warehouses, use AL3 to downplay the green and pale tones and realize a more natural coloring.
  • AL4—Fluorescent Boost: Use AL4 to amplify the greenish hue of fluorescent lighting for a distinctive, slightly eerie mood.
  • AL5—Mixed Soften: AL5 neutralizes blue and orange tones caused by multiple light sources in an image, such as LED and daylight.
  • AL6—Mixed Boost: Morph the look of your subject with AL6, which plays up the vibrant colors that can appear due to mixed lighting situations.

Portrait (G4-G9)

Turn to this preset pack to amplify the essence of each person in front of your camera.

  • G4—Cool Portrait: Achieve a pleasing color contrast with G4, which preserves natural skin tone, yet adds a strong blue tone to your image.
  • G5—Cool Portrait: For a blue-toned, desaturated look, G5 allows you to reduce color in your photo while keeping skin from looking dull and ashen.
  • G6—Neutral Portrait: G6 increases the brightness of colors in your image without skin looking unnaturally tan.
  • G7—Neutral Portrait: G7 lessens the intensity of all colors in the image to create a balanced color palette that will complement your subject’s complexion.
  • G8—Warm Portrait: For sun-kissed skin and an overall pop of color on your photo, G8 adds warm drama to your look.
  • G9—Warm Portrait: With G9, achieve an overall warm tone. Though colors are subdued, skin appears healthy and radiant.

Urban (U1-U6)

Designed for different lighting scenarios, these are six presets crafted to enhance images of city life.

  • U1—Bright Sun: For images shot in full sunlight, U1 accentuates warm tones for a creamy, highly-saturated look.
  • U2—High Sun: Mimicking the washed out effect that the high sun causes, U2 is a medium contrast preset that subtly brightens the image, while maintaining vibrant reds, yellows, and oranges.
  • U3—Overcast: In line with the atmosphere on cloudy days, U3 leans toward the blue spectrum, with mild contrast and slightly muted coloring.
  • U4—Low Sun: For situations when the sun is low in the sky, U4 adds emphasis to cool, blueish shadows and complimentary warm, burnt orange highlights.
  • U5—Sunset: For photos captured at sunset, U5 intensifies color to achieve rich oranges and dynamic blues.
  • U6—Darkness: Meant for artificially lit night scenes, U6 exhibits a deep blue hue that gives night captures a surreal aura.

Landscape (L1-L12)

The Landscape Series was designed to re-inject images of natural beauty with life. Each preset is intended for use with specific scenery.

  • Mountains (L1-L3)
  • Valleys & Forests (L4-L6)
  • Beaches & Coasts (L7-L9)
  • Deserts (L10-L12)

Walk In The Sun

Walk In The Sun is a three-part preset collection designed for photos taken in strong sunlit conditions and low-angled light.

  • Sumac (SUM1, SUM2): SUM1 influences highlights and shadows with deep reds and burnt oranges for a dramatic effect. SUM2 applies subtle, warm tones to images captured in daylight settings.
  • Agave (AGA1-AGA3): AGA1’s sun-dazed, surreal approach emphasizes the red and green and harmonizes the blue. AGA2 pushes a dynamic red and green contrast to create bold and poppy color shifts. AGA3 offers a desaturated take on AGA2.
  • Indigo (IND1, IND2): Apply cool tones and tap into a range of blue moods. IND1 sees blues and greens emphasized, offering an intensely affective take on color that speaks to the deeper hues of dusk. Slight additions of blue tones are applied to existing color with IND2.

Street Style

The Street Style series is perfect for urban environments to capture everything from vibrant accents to muted moments.

  • Vibrant Accents (SS1): Bright accent colors are often a crucial component of expression. This preset seeks to boost strong colors even further, while leaving skin tones and milder colors alone.
  • Muted Moments (SS2): Style isn’t just for the loud and wild; it can be quiet and subtle. With this in mind, SS2 imparts an open-toned, minimal color palette to your image.
  • In The Shadows (SS3): Bold doesn’t always mean bright. A strong sense of style can be contained in brooding depth. SS3 lays the shadows in thick, while preserving natural, unassuming colors.

Other

Analog (A1-A10)

With natural tones, subtle color shifts, and slight fading, Analog / Aesthetic is inspired by classic analog film. Well-suited for interiors, portraits and food photography.

Chromatic (C1-C9)

Inspired by the aesthetic of early color photography, The Chromatic Collection embodies the bright and bold look of mid-century analog film. Strong primary colors mix with muted neutral tones, perfect for portraits, environments, and stylized editorial.

Essence (E1-E8)

Essence embellishes golden highlights and deep shadows, harkening back to the gilded age of consumer film stock.

Mellow (F1-F3)

Desaturated and understated, the F Series: Mellow / Fade presets yield elegant results. An all-purpose pack with analogue film qualities, F1, F2, and F3 excel at beautiful skin tones and quiet everyday moments.

Polychrome Summer (H1-H3)

An ideal all-purpose pack, Presets H1, H2 and H3 excel in fashion, lifestyle and still object photography. Subtle pink, yellow and purple hues evoke the best memories of summertime.

Polychrome Winter (H4-H6)

An ideal all-purpose pack, Polychrome Winter excels in fashion, lifestyle, and still object photography. H4, H5, and H6 are understated and cool, delivering dreamlike hues inspired by the winter season.

Minimalist (J1-J6)

The J series (J1-J6) all mute colors by making brighter colors lighter (more of a tint) while making darker colors darker (more of a shade), which basically retains the original contrast.

Analog Classic (K1-K3)

Based on classic Kodachrome film, the new K Series: Analog Classic pack emulates the bright and poppy look of its analog forefather. These presets are classic, bold, and recommended for a variety of scenarios.

Mood (M1-M6)

The M Series: Mood: Underexposed pack issues a subtle mood. Slightly faded and underexposed looks define M1, M2, and M3. Exaggerated browns and greens make this pack preferable with nature, still life, and expansive environments.

New Modern (N1-N3)

Tailor-made for bright lights and colors, this N Series works well with photographs shot with the flash or direct sunlight. N1, N2, and N3 have a modern and bold aesthetic.

Instant (P1-P9)

The Instant + Warm pack emulates the warm, creamy overtones and pop qualities of quintessential instant film and are best suited for images of food, fashion, and everyday life.

Alchemy (Q1-Q10)

An experimental technique in which films are developed in an alternative chemical solution, Cross Processing often creates dramatic color shifts and high contrast. The Alchemy Collection emulates this technique and features rich vibrancies balanced by refined tones, making this pack ideal for lifestyle photography, stylized portraiture, and strong statement images.

Clean (S1-S6)

The S Series: Bright + Clean pack offers gorgeous results. Flourishing with brightness, S1, S2 and S3 generate splendid skin tones and achieve optimal results when paired with portraits or scenes with lighter backgrounds.

Valence (V1-V8)

The Low-Contrast V Series is well-suited for scenes of still-life, portraits, and urban settings, expanding your image’s natural tonal range while simultaneously generating beautiful and gently muted looks.

Further Reading

[VSCO X Review, Bringing Analog Film Presets to Digital Photographers]

[VSCO Acquires Rylo, a Company Founded by Former iPhoto Engineers]

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