Lightroom is an incredible tool for photographers. Not only can it help you to keep your photos neatly organized, but it is also extremely powerful for editing and processing photos. In many ways Lightroom is superior to Photoshop, although it does not include all of the same tools and functions of Photoshop. Many photographers find that they can do 95% of what they need in Lightroom without ever needing to open Photoshop.
One of the ways that you can enhance your workflow and save even more time is by making use of Lightroom presets. Develop presets will apply specific settings in Lightroom’s develop module, allowing you to instantly create an effect, or at least serve as a starting point. You can create your own presets or use presets that have been created by others. Here at Shutter Pulse we offer more than 300 different Lightroom presets.
As great as Lightroom presets are, no preset will work perfectly with every photo. Presets should be seen as a starting point that can save time in your post processing, but you may need to make some tweaks or adjustments after applying a preset in order to get the best results for your photo. Let’s take a look at the process of using and tweaking the output of a preset.
Here is a preview of the before version of a sample photo.
I’m going to apply one of our Cinema Presets to the photo, the specific preset is named “Basic Cinema – Lighter”. To apply the preset simply find the name of the one that you want to use and click on it.
After applying the preset the photo looks like this:
One of the great things about Lightroom presets is how easy they are to customize. The preset simply applies various settings in the develop module, and you can tweak those settings in any way that you like, and you can also apply other settings. For this reason presets are an excellent starting point.
With this particular photo I want to adjust the clarity setting created by the preset. To do this I’ll go to the right side of the develop module and set the clarity back to “0”. This will give o softer look, which is more appropriate since the photo features young kids.
Here is how it looks after the tweak to clarity:
From here you can adjust any of the settings as needed. One of the most common tweaks that may be needed after applying a preset is to adjust the exposure. In some cases the exposure may not have been perfect before the preset was applied, and in other cases the effect of the preset may have left the photo a little too dark or too light.
Let’s take a look at another example using the sample photo below.
I want to apply one of our Vintage Presets, so I’ll try the preset called “Vintage Wash”. Here is the result.
I like the effect, but the sky loses a bit of detail. There are a few options to improve it. The preset did not impact the exposure, so the first option is to decrease the exposure setting.
Below you will see how the photo looks with exposure changed from “0” to “-0.75”.
The second option, and the option that is probably better, is to avoid changing the exposure setting and change the highlights setting instead. The areas of the photo that need to be adjusted are the lighter highlight areas, so changing the highlights setting will impact those light areas without impacting the rest of the photo. The preset changes the highlight setting to “+10” but since this photo has a lot of highlight area I am going to move it all the way back to “-80”.
Here is what the photo looks like after adjusting the highlights instead of the exposure:
And that’s the basic process, just edit whatever settings need to be tweaked for your specific photo. You can get the look you want much quicker by using a preset as a starting point rather then starting from scratch.
If you haven tried our presets yet you can get a sample bundle for free by entering your email address in the form below, and if you want ALL of our presets you can purchase the full bundle of 300+ presets for just $59.