As long as there have been cameras, there have been accessories touted as shortcuts to attaining great results.
In the days of film, the most common of these were filters that attached to the lens.
There were polarizers for enhancing skies and reflections, starburst filters for adding diffractions, and colored filters to simulate an acid trip.
Today there are post-production digital tools called presets that can simulate these visible tricks or mimic any film stock ever produced.
In the right hands, these retouching techniques can render remarkable results. When overdone, they create fakery that can be seen from a mile away.
Thankfully there’s still no serenity filter. That is something that still requires the magic of the right subject captured in the right place at the right time.
This portrait, taken in San Francisco a few years ago, never fails to bring me a sense of calm and peace every time I see it. Knowing that I earned it makes it even sweeter.
About the author: I am Stephen Kennedy, an experienced photographer with more than 2500 completed sessions in all 50 US states.