I’ve been using Lightroom since version 1.0 so I’d like to think I’m fairly adept with it, but every so often I end up with a few images that I struggle to edit.
So I’ve recently been looking into presets for Lightroom.
A preset is a collection of changes to any number of Lightroom settings, (contrast, saturation, colour balance, clarity, etc, etc.). This preset can then be applied to any image by simply clicking on it in the develop module.
Now a lot of photographers I know reject presets as something for beginners to use, but I disagree. Sure, for a lot of my images I manually add only a few adjustments and I’m well aware that presets won’t work all the time, but I think that’s missing the point.
When you edit an image in Lightroom (or any other program for that matter) you only adjust one parameter at a time. You grab a slider and move it until you see a reasonable change, and if you like it, you leave it there. Then you do the same with the other sliders and so on. Sometimes though, all those adjustments produce an image that you’re ultimately not happy with. Maybe some of the adjustments were OK on their own, but when combined combine in a way you didn’t predict.
That’s where presets come in. Because they contain multiple adjustments so can see the affect of making those adjustments in one go. If you have the Navigator window open in the develop module then you just have to hover over the preset to see the result.
Once you find a preset that gets you near to the look you’re after you can apply that as a starting point, and because the preset is just a collection of adjustments, you can make further changes to those adjustments to fine tune your image.
While it’s possible to make your own presets, it’s probably better to let someone else make them. For a start they are likely to make presets that contain combinations of adjustments that you wouldn’t necessarily think to put together, and you’ll also spent an awful lot of time doing it.
To this end I’ve been trying out the ‘Through The Woods’ Lightroom workflow presets from sleekness.
The bundle contains 51 presets as well as 30 brushes for use with the adjustment brush.
It also contains very clear installation instructions for both Mac and Windows, and their website contains some very good video guides on how to get the best out of them.
The presets are split into two distinct types. First up are the ‘All In One’ presets which a designed to apply multiple adjusts to contrast, clarity, colour, etc. and can work well on some images.
Below is an image I quickly adjusted using an ‘All In One’ preset.
The preset made some nice enhancements to the colour levels in the image. Something which using the saturation slider did not do very well on it’s own.
Next up are what I’d call the workflow presets. They are designed to be stacked together one after they other, working from exposure through colour down to vignettes.
The image below was adjusted using these presets, working from top to bottom (you can see the edits in the History panel). I finished up with a brush preset applied with the grad tool to darken the sky a little more.
Overall I’ve been impressed with the quality of these sleeklens presets.
Using these has opened my eyes to the possibility of presets, to make adjustments I wouldn’t necessarily have though of.
I would definitely recommend you checking out this ‘Through The Woods’ bundle, as well as others they have on their site.