One of the best ways to speed up your post processing workflow is to take advantage of Lightroom’s ability to save your own settings as presets. In Lightroom’s develop module you can save the settings that you have applied to a particular photo and then re-use those settings with other photos.
Creating your own presets is helpful for a few different scenarios including:
- Creating a basic preset to use when importing photos to Lightroom
- Applying the same settings to many different photos from the same shoot
- Achieving a specific look or creating your own style
Of course, you can also download or purchase presets from other websites as well. We have some presets available for download, and we also recommend the presets from PhotographyPla.net, Shutter Pulse, and Preset Kingdom. Using presets created by others can save you loads of time and allow you to achieve looks or effects that you may not know how to create on your own. Just keep in mind that a preset is really only a starting point and since each photo is different you may need to make some adjustments after applying the preset for the best results.
Creating your own presets may seem intimidating if you have never done it, but Lightroom makes it pretty easy and it is well worth the time to learn. The first step is to apply the settings to a photo. For this example I will be working with this sample photo:
You can download the photo from ISO Republic if you want to follow along, but it really doesn’t matter what photo you use.
In the Basic settings of the develop module I will lighten the shadows a little and add some clarity to give it more midtone contrast and a sharper look.
I’ll also add some split toning by adjusting the settings for both the shadows and highlights.
After those changes the sample photo looks like this:
After you have made all the changes that you want it is time to save the preset. Go to the left side of the screen and next to the “Presets” title you’ll see an icon of a + sign. Click on that icon.
You should then see the following screen.
Enter a name for your preset, and be descriptive so you will know what it does in the future when you are looking at your list of presets. Then select the folder “user presets” (shown the the first arrow below). Alternatively, if you plan to create several presets of a similar type or theme you can select “New Folder” from the dropdown and give your folder a name. Also be sure that the box is check for “Process Version”, shown by the second arrow in the graphic below.
Different versions of Lightroom use different process versions. For example, the current version is Lightroom CC or Lightroom 6, depending on if you have a Creative Cloud membership or if you purchased Lightroom 6 on its own. Lightroom 4, 5, 6, and CC all use the same process version, so your presets will work in all of those versions of Lightroom. The only exception is that some features might not be available in all versions. For example, the radial filter was introduced in Lightroom 5, so if you are saving a preset in Lightroom 5, 6, or CC and it involves a radial filter, the radial filter will not be applied when that preset is used in Lightroom 4. All of the other settings of the preset will be applied.
The process version box must always be checked when you are saving a preset. All of the other boxes are optional. The settings for each box that you check will be saved and applied whenever you use the preset on another photo. The settings for the boxes that you leave unchecked will not be impacted by the preset.
In this case I adjusted the settings for shadows, clarity, and split toning. If I want the preset to record those settings and apply them whenever I use the preset I will need to check the boxes for shadows, clarity, and split toning. And to save the preset click “create”.
I’ve saved my preset, and now I want to apply it to another photo. I’ll go to the user presets and there is “My Example Preset” that I just created. I’ll click on the name of the preset to apply it to the photo.
Now I can look at the sliders and see that the same settings have been applied for shadows and clarity.
And the split toning settings have also been applied.
Those are the only settings impacted by the preset because they were the only boxes checked when I saved the preset. What that means is that other changes made before applying the preset will not be impacted. For example, if I had adjusted the expose of the photo to +0.50 first, then applied My Sample Preset the exposure would have remained at +0.50. However, if the exposure box had been checked when I saved the preset it would record the exposure setting at the time the preset was recorded, which was zero. In that case any time the preset is used it would reset the exposure to 0 since exposure is then a part of the preset. It’s important that you think about the settings that you want to save and override before you create your preset.
If you haven’t already, try creating your own preset and see how easy it is!