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Working with Develop Presets in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2

Martin Evening explains how presets work, including how to prevent preset contamination and reset settings.
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Understanding how presets work

Even with a Develop setting like the one shown in Figure 6.100, it can still get confusing, because this Develop preset is doing several things in one shot. It is raising the threshold for the black clipping point and boosting the contrast, and it is reducing the color saturation and applying a split tone color effect. Including all this in one preset has its disadvantages and can also lead to messy situations like that shown in Figure 6.101.

How to prevent preset contamination

As I mentioned earlier, one way I like to work with presets is to trim them down so that each preset performs a discrete task, such as a grayscale conversion or a split tone coloring effect. That way I have more options to mix and match the preset settings and prevent getting into a situation like the one shown in Figure 6.101 where the end result is a contaminated mess. For example, I may apply one preset to modify the contrast and another preset to apply a coloring effect. I then keep these stored in separate preset folders so that it is easy for me to locate all the presets that can be used for applying different grayscale conversions or cross processing effects. The chart shown in Figure 6.102 summarizes the steps that are described over the next few pages. You will notice how I added a series of presets to build an effect. Therefore, when applying different split tone effects I can click on all the presets in turn to see a full-screen view of what the result will look like.

  1. To begin with I tried out some tone adjustment presets and chose a Light Contrast tone curve preset to apply a moderate contrast boost to the original color version of this image.
  2. I also wanted to try out some special effect coloring presets, so selected a “Cold tone” preset from my Special Effects preset folder. Should I wish to reset the preset settings used here and move on to try something different, I have included a RESET setting in each folder that can be used to reset the relevant sliders to zero.
  3. After resetting the Cold tone preset I expanded the Grayscale Black & White preset folder and applied a Black and White Infrared grayscale preset to see what a monochrome conversion looked like.
  4. Next I went to the Split Tone folder and tried different Split Tone presets. Note that if you have the Navigator panel open, you can hover the mouse over the preset list to preview each preset effect before applying.
  5. In the end I opted for a Cool tone Split Tone preset and finished off by adding a Burn Corners preset from the Tone Adjustments folder.

Reset settings

I will end this section by elaborating a little more on the use of the Reset preset settings such as the one referred to in Step 2. With the Develop preset folder method I use here, I have added a preset to each folder that is named *RESET. This is a preset setting that undoes any of the presets that have been applied in that particular folder. In the case of the Grayscale Black & White folder, I have a preset called *RESET grayscale that switches from Grayscale to Color mode. I created it by selecting a photo in color mode and created a new preset in which I checked only the Treatment (Color) check box (as shown in Figure 6.103). For all the other preset folders I similarly created presets such as a *RESET Split Tone setting that uses zero Split Tone Saturation settings. The naming of these presets isn’t critical; I prefer to use all caps so that the reset presets stand out more and I place an asterisk at the beginning of the name so that the reset preset always appears listed first in each folder.

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