How to Get Started with Lightroom Presets

September 09, 2015

How to Get Started with Lightroom Presets

A Post By: Jane Grates

Adobe Lightroom, unlike other software designed by Adobe, doesn’t require third-party plugins in order to enhance its performance. Despite the availability of some plugins for Lightroom, they are very few in comparison to the wide range of plugins offered for Adobe Photoshop - and the reason behind this lies in Lightroom’s User Interface.

getting started with lightroom presets

Lightroom’s interface is split into modules, each of which contains several panels where tools and sliders are located. This is where Presets are born.

Presets can be defined as sets of instructions governing Lightroom’s native tools. Therefore, when you use a preset, you are applying prearranged settings to Lightroom’s tools in order to get a desired effect.

You might ask yourself then, “What is the difference between plugins and presets?" Well, in case of the former, Plugins have to be installed into the install folder of the host software, meaning they apply modifications to the registry values when you install a plugin. They also affect the host software by increasing its drain on resources, since the software needs not only to launch itself, but also to launch the data from the plugins. If by some chance you want to remove them, you can do so by uninstalling plugins, but in most cases they leave behind junk data, which may lead to future malfunction of the software interface.

getting started with lightroom presets

Presets, on the other hand, don’t modify anything. Even if they are installed inside Lightroom’s root folder, they won’t alter the software structure, as they work as independent databases that are loaded into the software when needed. Another good thing is that they weigh much less than the typical Plugin, which means that we can build up a huge library of presets without being concerned about it the share of HDD they are going to need.

Characteristics of a Good Quality Preset

First of all, good presets don’t create Film Grain in the picture, unless it is the intent of the user to do so (i.e. AddGrain presets). When a preset adds film grain to a picture, this means the preset is creating noise, which will drastically reduce the quality of the image if your intent is to print it.

Good presets are previously defined for their purpose: Food, Landscape, Cars, Portraits, Cross processing, etc., so it is not surprising to find preset bundles already organized into different themes that match these situations.

Designers like Sleeklens keep the needs of photographers in mind, creating stunning presets that take our pictures to a professional level.

getting started with lightroom presets

How to install Lightroom Presets

This workflow can be split into two methods, each matching a different OS:

Windows

  1. Locate the folder, where your downloaded presets are stored (for Windows Vista users and above, it is commonly located at C:\Users\\Downloads)
  2. Extract the downloaded file (it may be a .zip or .rar file; We recommend you use a file extractor, such as Winrar).
  3. Identify files with the following extension: “.lrtemplate" These are the files you want to install (ignore MAC_OSX folder).
  4. Open Lightroom and go to the Preference Menu.
  5. Switch to the Presets tab and click Show Lightroom Presets Folder….
  6. Double click on Lightroom. Then double click on Develop Presets.
  7. Paste the preset files you want to install there. We strongly advise you to maintain the folder structure, meaning you need to create a new folder with the name of the Preset bundle and then copy the files inside that very same folder. This way, data will not be mixed up if you install several preset packs.
  8. Restart Lightroom in order to make presets work.

MAC OSX

  1. Locate the folder where your browser has downloaded the presets on Finder.
  2. Extract the downloaded file (it may be a .zip or .rar file; We recommend you use a file extractor, such as Winrar).
  3. Go inside the MAC_OSX folder and copy the files inside it.
  4. Open Lightroom and go to the Preference Menu.
  5. Switch to the Presets tab and click Show Lightroom Presets Folder…
  6. Double click on Lightroom. Then double click on Develop Presets.
  7. Paste the preset files you want to install there. We strongly advise you to maintain the folder structure, meaning you need to create a new folder with the name of the Preset bundle and then copy the files inside that very same folder. This way, data will not be mixed up if you install several preset packs.
  8. Restart Lightroom in order to make presets work.

Processing your pictures with Lightroom Presets

In order to process a picture with Lightroom Presets, you first need to define the content of your picture: the topic, if it seems suitable for a vintage/b&w/sepia tint, etc. Then we are going to work with presets according to those criteria.

As you can see, all we need to do is import our pictures inside Lightroom, select them, and switch to the Develop Module.

getting started with lightroom presets

On the lower left size of the Lightroom’s interface, the presets panel is located. Here you can select from every preset you have installed on your PC for developing your pictures.

Most presets bundles have several options for customizing your pictures. For example, on this bird photograph I am going to use one of Sleeklens bundle and apply a preset. The adjustment is easily visible, and if by some reason I don’t like it, all I need to do is to hit CTRL+Z to go back and choose another preset that suits my needs.

getting started with lightroom presets

From B&W tints to Heavy Contrasted images.

getting started with lightroom presets

And then Vintage tones… everything is possible with Presets. All you need to know is how to get presets to work for you, rather than being held back by finding an image to suit your preset file. Experience is everything, and, as always, you will get better with practice.

getting started with lightroom presets

Good luck and keep editing!




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