I regularly get asked about the tones and colour grading in my images or how I edit my photos. A big part of the answer lays in my usage of presets. Even today a lot of people still don’t know what presets are; what they have to offer; how you can make them or where you can find them. I hope to clear that up with this post.
First of all you need to know what a preset is.
What is a (Lightroom) preset?
A preset is basically a bunch of saved settings. Let’s say I edit a photo and I change contrast, exposure and saturation, I can save these changes as a preset and simply apply this later on other photos.
If you are in the Develop Module in Lightroom you’ll see your Presets Panel on the left side.
How to make them?
You can easily make your own Lightroom presets by editing a photo until you’re satisfied with the result. Next you want to click the + icon in the Presets Panel. This will open a pop up where you can choose which settings you want to save and how you want to name your preset. Then click on ‘create’ and your preset is ready to be used on other photos.
Why buy them?
Making a large variety of presets might take a while, so sometimes it’s just easier to buy a preset pack on the internet. This has several advantages.
First of all you don’t have to do any of the work yourself and you’ll save time.
Second, if you’re not really familiar with editing it might be helpful to use someone else’s presets. You can learn how they edit. Do they use the curves? How do they color grade their image? You will learn a ton of new things.
And last, but not least, it will broaden your horizon. It might show you new ways of editing that you would never have achieved on your own.
Why not buy them?
You learn by doing. So go and do. Edit; try things out; fail and learn from it, …
Where to buy them?
Simply type ‘buy Lightroom presets’ in Google and you’re set!
I have made a couple of packs myself that are now up for sale. I’ll explain what you can expect should you purchase any of them.
PACK 1: BLACK//WHITE
The first pack is a black and white pack offering 6 different black and white presets. They are made so that they fit a wide range of styles and genres of photography. They are pretty basic, but a good start for your monochrome images.
PACK 2: GREENS
The second pack is focussed on images with primarily green tones. They’re ideal for anything that involves plants or green landscapes. So they are not limited to what is shown on the preview images. More so, I edit roughly 75% of all my images with this pack. The ‘Bright Green’ and ‘Toned Down Yellows’ are my favorites!
PACK 3: WINTER & SNOW
Pack #3 is inspired by a holiday I did in the northern part of Finland. I’m not used to shooting in snowy conditions or editing snowy photos. Most of my images came out pretty blueish so I had to redo a couple of my presets so that they would fit these images. The ‘Aurora’ preset is obviously made to make your aurora photos pop that extra bit. Of course these presets are made for your winter shots, but they also work on a large range of images. The ‘Kakslauttanen’ preset worked pretty well on my images from NYC.
PACK 4: URBAN
The ‘Urban’ pack has 5 presets for moody urban photos. They are based on my photos from a trip to NYC and they work well on cityscapes and other urban scenes. Again, they’re based on one type of photography, but they’re not exclusively working on them. The ‘Urban’ presets for example work well on certain landscape photos as well.
PACK 5: LANDSCAPES
Last but not least is the ‘Landscape’ pack offering 11 presets to edit landscapes. It’s a wide range of different presets that work on landscapes but other types of photos as well.
How to install them?
Installing presets you bought on the internet is pretty simple. Below you find instructions in 8 steps:
- If necessary Unzip the downloaded file.
- Go into Lightroom
- Click on Edit at the top on a PC. Lightroom, then Preferences on a Mac.
- Click on the second tab of the new screen (Presets).
- Click on the box titled: Show Lightroom Develop Presets.
- Double click on Settings.
- Copy the downloaded folder, found in your downloads, into the “Settings” folder.
- Restart Lightroom. The presets should be in your presets bar.
The solution to all your problems?
No! Lightroom presets are not the solution for the bad photos and they will not make up for a lack of skills in either photography or editing. When you apply a preset to your photo you will notice it changes the tones and colors, but it still might be too dark or bright, too saturated or not enough. After applying a preset you still have to make adjustments to make it fit perfectly and this requires basic editing knowledge. Some presets might not even work on your type of images. On the other hand presets do show you the possibilities of your work and can save a lot of time.