Lightroom presets are a great way to speed up your photo development workflow. They enable you to store a whole host of predefined development settings that can be applied in a single click via the preset. They can also be applied to a whole group of images at the same time, so the benefits are obvious if you have a particular photo series that you want the same processing style applied to.
In this tutorial we’re going to look at how you can create and edit your own Lightroom presets, and also look at how to work with existing presets that you have obtained online (there are many free and premium presets available if you don’t want to create your own).
Adobe Lightroom already has a number of presets for you to use on your images. To see the preset panel you need to have selected a photo from your catalog, and then moved into the develop module (press ‘D’ on your keyboard to quickly move to the develop module).
In the screenshot above you can see an example photograph in the develop module, the preset panel is on the left. I have applied a ‘Bleach Bypass’ preset to the image, which is in the ‘Lightroom Color Presets’ folder that ships by default with Lightroom.
It’s worth noting that once you’ve applied a preset to your image, you are completely free to make further adjustments and edits to get the exact feel that you want.
Creating your own presets
If you have edited an image in a style that you really like, saving the settings as a preset means you can reuse it again and again. Below is an image that I’ve made a number of adjustments to, I’ve converted to black and white, increased contrast and clarity, and finally added a vignette.
To save this processing style as a preset I need to go to the preset menu on the left, and click the ‘+’ icon at the top (shown below).
You’ll then be presented with the window show below, in the top field you can name your preset (obviously give it a descriptive name). You can then choose which folder the preset will go in below (if you are going to have a lot of presets you can create various folders from within the main preset panel in order to keep them organized).
You can then select which adjustments you want to include in the preset, if you’re not quite sure what all the adjustments are then it may be best to select all, which you can quickly do via the button on the bottom left. After clicking the create button your preset will appear in the preset panel on the left for future use.
If you have some ‘premade’ presets, then to import into Lightroom simply execute a right mouse-click from within the preset panel. You could create a custom folder beforehand if it’s going to be a new set, or simply import a few new presets into an existing folder, how you organise it is completely up to you, see the screenshot below.
Lightroom presets are extremely easy and quick to use, and can save you a fair amount of time if used effectively. As you build up your own collection, they can become an important part of your photo processing workflow.
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