The Many Faces of Lightroom Presets: The Develop Module

Hi Folks:

This is part 2 of a 5-part series on Lightroom presets.  The segments are:

Develop Module

As mentioned in the previous post, there are a number of sites devoted to Develop presets, some of which are free and some of which are for sale. There are actually two (three) different presets in the Develop module. One set of presets is for the sliders in the right panel of the Develop module and the other (two) are for the sliders in the Adjustment Brush Tool and the Graduated Filter tool (although these both share the same presets).

a) Develop Presets

Develop Presets

Lightroom ships with a number of default presets; which ones you have depends on which version of Lightroom you have. One can download presets online and/or create your own presets and existing ‘user’ presets can be modified and/or removed. To create a preset, begin by adjusting the sliders in the right panel to your requirements. One can adjust any or all of the sliders, in any combination to achieve the desired result. When you have things as you wish, click the + sign beside Presets in the left panel and Lightroom will open a pop-up window like this:

Develop Preset Options

If you change any of the sliders after selecting an existing preset, one can right-click on the preset and select ‘Update with Current Settings’. The same box will appear. Now, there are a few important things to remember:

  • Presets will set all of the sliders selected to the exact settings used when the preset was created. Therefore, if you create a preset that only affects White Balance for example, it’s best to ‘Check None’ and then check the White Balance box only. There is one exception to this:
  • Lightroom 3 uses, by default, a different Process Version (2010) than Lightroom 2 (2003), and Lightroom 4 uses, by default, a different Process Version (2012) than Lightroom 3. The change between Lightroom 4 and Lightroom 3 is much bigger than 3->2 as Process Version 2012 has a number of different sliders. Therefore, if you have images with different process versions in your catalogue and you are creating or updating a preset, it’s best to check the ‘Process Version’ box as well.
  • Presets can be used in sequence, with the understanding that if a secondary preset has the same slider(s) selected as the first, the settings for those sliders will be overwritten. For example, if you select a preset that sets contrast to +30 and you then select another preset that sets the Contrast to +20, using them in sequence will change the Contrast from +30 to +20. This is one of the reasons it’s important to select only the slider options you want for that preset. It may be simpler to simply ‘Check All’, but it can lead to unexpected results.

b) Adjustment Brush/Graduated Filter Tool

While Lightroom doesn’t have the masking/ brush tool capability of Photoshop for example, it does have both an Adjustment Brush tool and a Graduated Filter tool and both of these share the same presets (known as ‘Effects’ on the Tool menu).

Adjustment Brush/ Graduated Filter Tool Presets

Lightroom ships with several presets built in, but you can make your own and/or download them online. Although this is a post about presets, there are a few things to note about the use of these tools:

  • If, when opening the Adjustment Brush tool or the Graduated Filter tool you discover that the sliders still have their settings from the last session, you can hold down the Alt/Opt key and the ‘Effects’ button becomes a ‘Reset’ button. Holding Alt/Opt and clicking Reset will reset all of the sliders in the Adjustment Brush or Graduated Filter panel. You can also created a ‘Zeroed’ preset, although calling it something like ‘All Zeroed’ will put it at the top of the list rather than the bottom as presets are sorted alphabetically.
  • Because Lightroom makes no changes to the image itself (except on export or output), you can set the sliders to extremes in order to see the areas affected and then lower the values afterward without affecting the image.
  • For the Adjustment Brush, pressing the ‘O’ key (Oh, not zero) will display the currently selected mask. Pressing Shift-O will change the colour of the mask. Pressing O again will hide the mask. For both tools, pressing H will alternately hide or reveal the edit pins. One can also set these options from the bottom Toolbar when using either of these tools. (If you don’t see the toolbar, press ‘T’).
  • Also for the Adjustment brush, one can selectively adjust each of the sliders, but in a way similar to the Targeted Adjustment tool in the Tone Curve and HSL panels, clicking on a pin, holding down the left mouse button and dragging left or right will incrementally increase or decrease the values set in each of the sliders (zeroed sliders are not affected). For example, if you have the Exposure, Highlights and Shadows sliders set and you click and drag on the mask pin to increase the Exposure by say 10%, it will incrementally adjust the Highlights and Shadows sliders accordingly. There is no similar function for the Graduated Filter tool.
  • At the bottom of the Adjustment Brush panel one can create two presets for Adjustment Brush (A/B) that each have different settings for Brush Size, Feather, Flow, Auto Mask and Density. Changing any of these settings automatically overwrites what was there before. There’s also an Eraser Brush, which will erase a part of the currently selected mask. It too has its own settings for brush size, etc. Holding down the Alt/Opt key while using the A or B brush will temporarily switch to the Eraser brush, and vice versa.
  • Holding down the Shift key while moving the mouse when using the Adjustment Brush tool or the Graduated Filter tool will constrain the mouse movement to either strictly vertical or strictly horizontal movement. Graduated filters can be adjusted/ rotated after initial placement.
  • Graduated Filters can be set as part of a Develop preset; Adjustment Brush masks cannot. There is somewhat of a workaround to that if one wants to copy an Adjustment Brush mask from one image to another. Begin by selecting both the image with the mask(s) and the image(s) to which the mask is to be applied (with the image containing the mask(s) as the ‘most selected’) and click the ‘Sync…’ tool in the bottom right panel of the Develop module. Click the ‘Check None’ box, then click only on the box beside the Brush and this will copy the mask(s) from the one image to the other(s). Of course, if other Develop settings are to be applied at the same time, then other boxes can be checked in addition to the Brush.

Adjustment Brush/ Graduated Filter Preset Options

At the bottom of the ‘Effects’ window one can create a new Adjustment Brush or Graduated Filter preset; as with the Import presets, for example, by selecting a preset one can then update, rename or delete that preset.

We’ll move on to the Map and Book modules next…


P.S. You can find more of our posts on photography and Lightroom tutorials here, and you can find links to over 200 other sites that have Lightroom tips, tutorials and videos here.

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