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This chapter is from the book

Save Your Favorite Settings as One-Click Presets

Lightroom comes with a number of built-in tonal correction presets that you can apply to any photo with just one click. These are found in the Presets panel over in the left side Panels area, where you’ll find two different collections of presets: Lightroom Presets (the built-in ones put there by Adobe) and User Presets (ones you create to apply your favorite combinations of settings with just one click). Some of the built-in ones are pretty decent, and some are, well...well...let’s just say that I haven’t had an instance to use them yet. Here’s how to put presets to work for you:

Step One:

We’ll start by looking at how to use the built-in presets, then we’ll create one of our own, and apply it in two different places. First, let’s look at the built-in presets by going to the Presets panel (found in the left side Panels area), and clicking on Lightroom Presets (as shown here) to expand the set, and see the built-in presets within it. Adobe named these built-in presets by starting each name with the type of preset it was, so those that start with “Creative” are special effect presets, those starting with “General” are just standard tone control presets, and those that start with “Sharpen” I even have to explain this one?

Step Two:

You can see a preview of how any of these presets will look, even before you apply them, by simply hovering your cursor over the presets in the Presets panel. A preview will appear above the Presets panel in the Navigator panel (as shown here, where I’m hovering over a Creative preset called B&W High Contrast, and you can see a preview of how that black-and-white effect would look applied to my photo, up in the Navigator panel, at the top of the left side Panels area).

Step Three:

To actually apply one of these presets, all you have to do is click on it. In the example shown here, I clicked on the Creative preset, Aged Photo, which gives the effect you see here.

Step Four:

Once you’ve applied a preset, you can apply more presets and those changes are added right on top of your current settings (in other words, they’re cumulative). For example, after I applied the Aged Photo preset, I felt it looked kind of flat and lacked contrast. So, I scrolled down near the bottom of the built-in presets and clicked on the Tone Curve - Strong Contrast preset (as shown here). Then, to make the photo appear punchier, I scrolled up a bit and clicked on the Preset named, “General - Punch” to give us the image you see here. Just three clicks and I was able to add a special effect tinting, lots more contrast, and an overall sharper, punchier look. Now, let’s look at using the built-in presets as a starting place to create our own custom presets.

Step Five:

Start by clicking on the Reset button at the bottom of the right side Panels area, so we’re starting over from scratch (but we’ll be starting with the same built-in presets we just used). Then, in the Presets panel over in the left side Panels area, first click on the Creative - Aged Photo preset, then click on Tone Curve - Strong Contrast to add more contrast. Then click on General - Punch to add more snap and Clarity to the image. Now let’s increase the Blacks to 30 to really darken the shadow areas, but that makes the colors in these areas a bit too saturated. So, go to the Vibrance slider and click-and-drag it to the left until it reads –40, which desaturates the colors quite a bit, and completes our tweaking of the photo.

Step Six:

Now that we’ve got our look, let’s save it as a preset. Go to the Presets panel, and click on the + (plus sign) button that appears on the right side of the Presets panel header. This brings up the New Develop Preset dialog (shown here). Give your new preset a name (I named mine “Desaturate With Contrast Snap”), then click the Create button to save all the edits you just made (from applying the three presets, to pumping up the shadows, to decreasing the vibrance), as your own custom preset. (Note: To delete a User Preset, just click on the preset, then click on the – [minus sign] button, which will appear to the left of the + button on the right side of the Presets panel header.)

Step Seven:

Now click on a different photo in the filmstrip, then hover your cursor over your new preset (I’m hovering over my Desaturate With Contrast Snap preset), and if you look up at the Navigator panel, you’ll see a preview of the preset (as seen here, where you’re seeing what your current color photo would look like if you applied the custom preset we just made). Seeing these instant live previews is a huge time saver, because you’ll know in a split second whether your photo will look good with the preset applied or not, before you actually apply it.

Step Eight:

You can even put these presets to use from right within the Import Photos dialog. For example, if you knew you wanted to apply this preset to a group of photos you were about to import, you’d just choose that preset from the Develop Settings pop-up menu (as shown here), and that preset will automatically be applied to each photo as it’s imported. There’s one more place you can apply these Develop presets, and that’s in the Saved Preset pop-up menu at the top of the Quick Develop panel in the Library module (more about the Quick Develop panel on the next page).

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