Lightroom is an incredible tool for organizing, cataloguing, editing and viewing your photographs. It’s worth taking your time exploring all the features of Lightroom, but if you’ve just installed it the chances are you’re looking to get presets working as soon as possible. This guide takes you through everything you need to know about presets for both the mobile app and the desktop version of Lightroom. Following these steps, your photos will come to life in no time.
So What Are Lightroom Presets All About?
Lightroom presets can be thought of as filters that apply a number of effects to your photos at once. Instagram’s filters can be thought of as analogous to Lightroom presets, and they’re incredibly useful for giving your photos a quick edit.
As any professional photographer knows, manually editing photos is an incredibly laborious task, and many photos come to dread the time they’ll be fiddling with filters as they’re clicking away. Especially in a digital age, when you can take tens of photographs in a single minute, we need to speed up this editing process. Presets are here for that.
“Applying presets to your digital photographs in Lightroom also helps you create a stylistically consistent set of edits, so your photographs are inseparable from your identity as a photographer,” says Raquel McAtee, photographer at Boom Essays and Paper Fellows. “Presets give your photos a consistency that would be hard to achieve with a subjective edit on each picture. Apply your preset and then adjust a few additional features such as warmth, and you’ll have a great looking portfolio in no time.”
When Can Presets Be Used?
Presets are available for use both in the Lightroom app and on the desktop version. Which of these you go for will depend on how you’re using Lightroom and what you want to get out of it. Presets can be accessed for free in the mobile app, whereas to use Adobe Lightroom on the desktop you need to pay a monthly fee – this is $11 a month but comes with access to all the tools and full functionality.
If you’re an amateur photographer looking to take their digital portfolio to the next level, then the mobile app might suit you perfectly. It’s easy to use and you can supercharge your photos for social media or your blog. However if you’re a professional photographer or you need images for your own business you might find that the functionality of the desktop version is worth paying for.
The simplest way to get presets working for you is to search for presets you like the look of, download the whole package. This will likely come in either a zip file or as a whole host of DNG files, which consist of the individual settings that make up the whole preset. Usually, when you download a preset you’ll find instructions on how to apply them included, but if not, we can walk you through it. It’s a little different depending on whether you’re on the mobile app or the desktop version of Lightroom, so let’s take a look at the process for getting presets working on each of these.
Mobile Lightroom Presets
Getting presets working on the mobile app is simple. Once you have the DNG files on your mobile device you can upload them to Lightroom in just the same way as you upload images that you’ve taken. You can then rename these DNG files so you can find them again easily.
Applying the uploaded presets to your images takes only a few clicks. Select and open your chosen DNG file, and then locate the three dots at the top of the screen. Tap this and select ‘copy settings’. Now you can apply the preset to your photo – simply navigate back to the image you wish to edit and open it up. Tap the three dots again at the top of your screen and click ‘paste settings’. The preset will be applied and your image will spring to life.
Desktop Lightroom Presets
Add the presets that you downloaded to your desktop Lightroom by copying the folder from your downloads and pasting it into the Lightroom folder called Develop Presets. This folder can be found from the navigation menu at the top of the desktop programme. Preset settings are found under Preferences, and the Develop Presets folder is under the Lightroom presets Folder tab.
You’ll have to restart the programme before you can apply these presets to your images, so just close down Lightroom and open it right back up again. Then apply your chosen presets to any image in Lightroom by using the editing bar at the side of your screen.
Making Your Own Presets
If you’re really looking to develop your own style, you can build your own presets. This will help your identity as a photographer stand out from the crowd. Manually edit a photograph to get it just right, and then use the New Develop Preset function to save your adjustments into a new preset. You can select what adjustments you want to save to the preset on the tick box menu, and you’ll have your own preset for future use.
Beyond The Preset
A good preset should leave your images looking fantastic and requiring very little further adjustment. However, you may still want to make a quick manual edit, as images taken in radically different lightings or with different shutter settings will need a slightly different treatment. As good as presets are, there’s no one-size-fits-all filter.
Erin Harrington, a photojournalist at Australianhelp and State Of Writing suggests “take some time to play around with exposure and temperature to adjust an image depending on the light conditions under which the photograph was taken. Reducing the contrast on overexposed images can bring out new details and give the photo a better look.” Warming an image up with the temperature settings can change the feel of a photograph entirely, so if you’re trying to give off that summer vibe, warm it up!
Often you can turn a good image into a great one with a little cropping and levelling. Use vertical features in the image such as buildings or trees to straighten up the image and crop out any distracting details around the edges of the images. If you have the paid version of Lightroom, the healing tool can work magic on your images to remove flaws and distractions, cleaning up your images so the object of your photography stands out even further.
If you’ve applied the right presets then you may not need to worry about these additional time-consuming edits at all. But playing around with these settings can be exciting when you’re starting out and will help your photography skills develop.
Lightroom is an incredible tool for both professional and amateur photographers alike. As a way to sort, organize and view your images it’s an incredibly helpful organizational tool. Once you add presets to the mix you’ll wonder how you ever lived without them as dull images come to life with the click of a button. Learning how to use presets can be daunting, but when it comes to memories that will last a lifetime it’s worth taking the time to perfect these images so they can be reflected on fondly.
About the Author
Katherine Rundell is an editor at Academic Writing Service and UK Writings and started out shooting on film. She has enjoyed keeping up with the trends in photography and was inspired by digital photography and editing from the day she got her first DSLR. Katherine is an educator at Write My Paper service.