At the same time, I feel there's a certain reward that can come from working hard to build your own consistent, unique style that can take your photos to the next level. Below, I've included three tips for building and using your own custom filters with a few examples of my own work.
1. Define Your Style
When you start playing with filters and early edits, ask yourself key questions about what you hope to accomplish with your shots. Do you want a lot of contrast? Are you going for a clean, desaturated look? As you grow in your editing techniques, you always want to keep referring back to and modifying your original ambitions.
2. Be Consistent
I have certainly been guilty of violating this rule by trying lots of different filters without thinking about how they flow across my feed or portfolio. Work on finding your 2-5 go-to filters that allow you to stay consistent. I've expanded my filter count over time, but only after I lined up my foundational ones.
3. Realize That There's No Perfect Filter
Realize that there are many different types of photography that all require different methods to achieve good results. Editing portraits is going to be different than editing cityscapes. Don't settle for dropping a filter on a photo without looking closer at the highlights, contrast, or exposure levels.
A Few Examples:
The example shot at the top of this post reflects the way I like to shoot landscapes and nature -- lots of vibrant colors with a good amount of contrast. When I started with this photo, it looked like it does below as shot on my Nikon D7100 with 17-55 2.8.
After editing the photo, I saved that technique as a Preset in the in the Develop window. First, I hit the + button next to Presets, and then named the preset with corresponding Settings. In this case, my custom preset Keylowe Landscape will show up in the folder User Presets.
Any time I want to apply the filter, I select in from the Presets dropdown on the left. When I use this filter, I usually only tweak the Exposure and Temperature settings to dial in each shot. Below are a few more examples of finished images.
I hope you've enjoyed this post and can take away a few points when building your own filters. Word of the wise: always back up your filters. Make sure you save the finished filters in more than one place, so you never lose all that hard work.