Like many photographers, I have a handful of hand-made favorite presets (most of them are included in the Daily Curves Set) in my photographic toolbox. But there is one preset in particular I use more often than others. I named it Spektrum, as it’s inspired by images from the Spektrum Berlin photo book by Matthias Heiderich. The look the preset emulates requires only a few basic adjustments that can be done in applications like digiKam and The GIMP. No matter what tool you use, though, the procedure is the pretty much the same.
First, adjust hue to shift colors, and then reduce saturation. To do this in digiKam, open the photo for editing and choose Color | Hue/Saturation. Set Hue to -19 and Saturation to -11. Depending on the photo, you might want to experiment with other values for better or different results. Also, increase brightness or clarity, if necessary.
Next, adjust curves using the Curves tool. Generally, you need to boost highlights and midtones. In most cases, you also need to push shadows up or down. That’s all there is to it.
This preset works best with photos taken on a bright sunny day featuring clear blue skies and brightly-lit subjects. But it can also produce interesting results with other photos, too.
For your convenience, I’ve prepared a Hald-CLUT file that you can use to quickly apply the described effect to one or several photos (the Linux Photography book covers the topic of using Hald CLUT in more detail). Grab the file, install ImageMagick on your machine, and run the convert command (replace foo.JPG with the actual name of the photo you want to process):
convert foo.JPG hald-9-spektrum.png -hald-clut foo-spektrum.JPG