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Using Your Lightroom Presets

To apply a preset, all you need to do is click on its name from the Develop module, or select the preset from the drop-down list in the Library module.  All the sliders and settings relevant to that preset will be applied to your image.  That’s the easy part.  What follows are some notes on how our presets operate together in general:

Our presets work best with RAW files

Though Lightroom will edit jpegs, it just ain’t the same.  The presets were designed and tested with raw files, and if you’re a jpeg shooter, you might get different and/or inconsistent results compared to what they were designed for.

Not all presets change all the develop settings for an image.

Some presets change only one slider, some change nearly all of them, and some fall somewhere in the middle.  In general, this means that there are limited ways that the presets can be combined together, since each slider can only have one value at a time.  When you apply a preset, it might over-write or change what a previous preset has done.  This might be what you want, or it might not.  The notes on each preset provide some clues as to what will work best together.

If you get stuck, or want to just start over, we have presets for that.

Start Over, Reset Everything, and Start From Scratch all basically reset all the controls to their default settings.  If you’ve applied a lot of presets and things are starting to get weird, you might try just resetting things and doing them again.

BW | 50K and its variants mess with the white balance.

They’re supposed to do that, but as most of our presets don’t change the white balance, running most presets after you’ve run BW | 50K will result in a very weird look.  Either use the undo command or reset everything after playing with that preset, especially if something doesn’t look the way it should.

Many of the presets come in Lite, Medium, and Strong versions.

Since Lightroom doesn’t have a built-in way to “fade” an effect, this is our workaround.  The Strong version is almost always the full-strength version of the effect, and Medium and Lite correspond to 33% and 66% reductions in the strength of the effect, respectively.  If there are only two strengths available for a preset, then the Lite version is half strength.

If you want to modify or tweak a preset, save it as a new preset instead of updating the original preset.

Why?  Because Lightroom only saves the values you select with checkboxes to save into the new preset.  As an example, if you only want to update the way Boogie Nights handles split tones, you’ll need to make sure you have all the settings that Boogie Nights changes selected as well when you save the new preset – otherwise your new preset will only affect split tones and nothing else.  Make sense?  Good.  Refer also to the notes about the individual presets for more info on what each one tweaks.

Use the preview in the Develop Module!

It’s a fantastic way to quickly decide what you want to do with an image, or which strength of a particular preset is right.  Some presets in our set do very basic things, and part of their utility is being able to preview changes with the flick of a mouse.  Much more quick and intuitive than dragging a slider around, and you can see what you’re getting into before you apply something.