Skip to main content

photo & video

How to Build and Use Lightroom Presets

Lesson 8 of 15

Mastering the Anatomy of a Develop Preset

Pye Jirsa

How to Build and Use Lightroom Presets

Pye Jirsa

buy this class


Sale Ends Soon!

starting under


Unlock this classplus 2000+ more >

Lesson Info

8. Mastering the Anatomy of a Develop Preset

Lesson Info

Mastering the Anatomy of a Develop Preset

So, what I want you guys to do when you wanna create a universal preset is to select a base image that's the representation of a typical image for that look or scene. What does that mean? Well, for example, if I wanna create a preset, let's say I'm shooting in fields a lot. I'm shooting in these soft sunlight type situations and quarters backgrounds like this. I'll select several different images from a similar scene to test my preset against. So, this is step number one decide on what type of scene you're actually trying to work with. Find images that are shot on different cameras. Some of these are on Mark IIIs, some of them are Mark IVs, some are on Nikon. So, at that point we're gonna dial in develop settings. We wanna decide on what's in-camera versus image specific or universal. Sorry, that's supposed to be in-camera versus universal adjustments. Master the anatomy of develop preset, that's what we're gonna get into. We're gonna click the preset icon. We're gonna choose a name or...

folder. We're gonna do all the same settings but we're only gonna select general adjustments to save. And then we're gonna actually test. So, test, test, and re-test. This what I do. And every time we update the presets, like a new set of cameras comes out, has boosted dynamic range, we'll take the presets apply it across every image, test it against newer cameras, make sure everything is looking good over these different models. But make sure you're testing against raw files over similar scenes. Why not test against JPEGs? You're absolutely right, Rosemary. The results would be different. Why would they be different? It processed the photo differently? Yes, because not only do we not have all the raw adjustments available to us ... So, we no longer have temperature and tint as available as a raw adjustment, but also you're actually applying another set of developing, another set of developed presets in Lightroom over what's already been applied in camera. So, when you're shooting JPEG, it's gonna go through and apply sharpening and all those different things, colors, everything is applied to the JPEG file. You're taking the same JPEG file without raw capabilities and you're applying another set of presets over it. So, when you're testing, develop your presets for shooting raw. Unless your entire workflow is JPEG. In which case, develop for JPEG. I know shooters that develop JPEG still. And it works for them. Okay. So, when it comes to what we wanna save out, how to update a universal preset. If at any point in time, you wanna update a preset to be universal or you wanna update one of the presets in this system, here's the piece that you want to snapshot. Or again, you guys have the materials. So, when we would take that preset ... So, let's say ... Let's go back to our image over here. Okay. And let's save this out again the correct way. So, what I'm gonna do is actually go to soft/warm color, right-click, and say Update with Current Settings. Okay? Now, what we're gonna do is we're gonna deselect White Balance, deselect Exposure. These should be done in camera. Or on an image to image basis. We're gonna go down this list. Everything else is fine on this list. Tone, Clarity, Sharpening. Treatment Color is fine, Color's fine, Split Toning, but Graduated Filters and Radio Filters those are local adjustments, right? We wanna do that on an image to image basis. Noise Reduction is fine. Lens Corrections I don't necessarily want this applied over every single image. So, I'm gonna deselect Lens Corrections in general. You can leave on Chromatic Aberration. That's not gonna hurt anything turning that one on. Transform, again, these should be done on image to image basis. This is when you're like transforming and adjusting the scene for distortion, that type of stuff. We don't want that. Okay. Effects are fine. We can leave on Post Crop, Grain, and Dehaze. Process Version, this is the version of Lightroom that you're current ... The version of Camera Raw that you're currently using, you want to turn that on. Okay, cause that's ... Do you guys understand that they update Camera Raw with different versions. If you don't turn this on, then going forward your presets could potentially break. Okay? And going backwards doesn't necessarily work. Cause sometimes they'll update with new sliders, new adjustments. So, if you're using presets on an older system on something newer, usually it works. But if you're using presets on a newer system and going backwards, a lot of times there's things that are left out. Turn off calibration. That should be done ... If people wanna shoot with camera calibration, they should be doing that on their own. Your preset should not adjust it. Update. Okay. So, now if I go back to this image right here. And watch this, I can choose my exposure. And I can choose my temperature. And now I can click soft/warm color. And hey, it actually looks pretty good, right? Looks fine to me. So, now it actually made universal adjustments that are all just for that image. So, I don't have to worry about those graduated filters. If I wanna add anything at that point, I can. All this makes sense? Okay. So, if you ask how do you update a preset? That's how. You right-click the preset, go to Update, and then whenever you're creating a preset, whether you're updating or creating it, this is the magic right here. This is the adjustments that you wanna have in there. Question that had come up was can you explain turning off the previous version tab again? And maybe without showing us but ... Yeah, so the processed version ... I don't know the exact number that we're on, like maybe 7 point something. But whatever it is let's compare this version of Lightroom with Lightroom 3. Lightroom 3, instead of the base tone adjustments as highlights, shadows, whites, and blacks. We had things like Recovery. Recovery was there version back then of controlling highlights and whites. So, if I save a preset out on a computer using highlights, whites, shadows, blacks, and I try and go back and use it on Lightroom 3, it doesn't translate. Because now instead of those options you had Recovery and these other things that they don't correspond. But, if we create that in Lightroom 3, and we click Process Version turned on, and we bring it into this version of Lightroom, what'll happen is, it'll actually revert back to an older process. So, you'll notice, actually, if we flip to the computer, I'm pretty sure we can get it to bring it up. Okay. So, if you go under Camera Calibration, if you notice under Process it says Current, right? If we go back to 2010 ... Or let's go back to 2003. Watch the sliders up here. Exposure, Recovery, Fill Light, and Blacks. That was the old Process Version. <v Woman #1>Retro? Yeah, so, what'll happen is if you create a preset in Lightroom 3, and then you apply that same preset in the current version of Lightroom and Process Version is turned on, it'll tell your current version of Lightroom to revert back to the old process. Does that make sense? And if you're in a newer version of Lightroom it doesn't translate backwards, it only translates forwards. Thank you. Cool? So, it's a way of basically future-proofing to make sure that your presets that you create now will still work on future versions of Lightroom. Turn on Process Version. If you don't turn it on, then there might be some loss there. If you do turn it on and a new version of Lightroom has a lot of better features, it'll revert to the old version. So, you might not be using the new features but your preset will still work. If it does revert back, can you go in and edit and then uncheck that? Yeah, so what happens is whenever a new version of Lightroom comes out, what we'll do is I'll go and sit, I'll apply the preset, and I'll look at how the sliders are being adjusted. And I'll say, okay, the new version has this, this, this. What I'm gonna do is make these updates and adjustments. I'm gonna right-click right here, Update, and then I save out the same set with the new version Is that what you're asking? <v Woman #2>Well, if you uncheck the Process Version, no. If I uncheck this, then going forward ... So, this is what it says. <v Woman #2>So, that's how you get the slider. Yeah, and see what it ... If you read right down there, it says it may produce a different visual result in future versions of Lightroom. <v Woman #2>Okay. Does that make sense? <v Woman #2>Yeah. So, clicking that will keep it compatible going forward. But there is no compatibility going backwards if you're going to prior versions. Unless, for example, if you wanted to make a preset for 2003. Like, let's say you have a friend that uses or you wanna make them a preset, you can go back to that Process Version here, go to 2003, dial in your adjustments, save this out, and select Process Version 2003. And you can give them that preset and it'll work. I don't know why you'd ever want to do that. It's so much easier to just tell your friend to buy the latest version of Lightroom. (laughter) <v Woman #2>Why don't you even call it vintage? You could. Oh, my gosh. There's a chair. <v Woman #3>What if you use a program like Portraiture? Would you recommend applying the preset before or after? Anytime you're gonna go to external editing applications, I would always do your raw processing first, then go to those applications. Don't do Photoshop. Don't do Portraiture. Don't do those things then come back to Lightroom. Because you're no longer editing over the raw file.

Class Description

The idea of learning how to use and develop presets for Lightroom can be intimidating for many photographers. Join Pye Jirsa of Lin and Jirsa Photography and SLR Lounge as he shows you how to incorporate presets into your Lightroom workflow.

You’ll learn:

  • How presets work and how to use them in your post-processing 
  • How to shoot for presets and customize them for your work 
  • How to create your own custom presets 
Creating and using presets are an integral part of customizing an efficient Lightroom workflow. This class will help you enhance and create striking images for your clients.

Be sure to check out SLR Lounge Lightroom Presets!

Software Used: Adobe Lightroom CC 2015.2 - 2015.3

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with RSVP

Preset Installation Guide

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Keynote Slides

Lightroom Presets

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

Related Classes


April S.

When I first saw this course being offered I thought, I know how to save my own Presets, and I didn't think there could be much in this course for me. I like to listen in to courses while working sometimes though so I tuned in to this one just for "noise" in the background. Well, I was quite wrong about the content. This short course is a jewel in my opinion. Pye does show how to name, save, store Presets, but there is so much more. He delves into some pretty great detail about why and how you would save some adjustments and not others (In Camera vs Universal settings), and he explains in a precise, clear way (with demonstration) of how each setting affects an image. I have watched and also own several Lightroom and Photoshop courses. All are great, but none of them covered this topic in such a way as to make me think I don't need this course. I'm going to buy this course now so that I can watch at my own pace and really glean every little gem from it and put this info to immediate use. Thanks Pye!

Suzy Petrucci

I was literally wishing for a class like this a few weeks ago because I spend way too much time meandering though LR wondering if there's a more methodical and efficient and consistent way to get through lighroom editing. This class nails it. The what, where and why about each of the sliders and a foundational order in which to use them. Great system Pye. Thank you.

Nicolet Groen

I was a bit hesitant to buy because I am an interior and still life photographer and Pye is working in a completely different niche. But boy, I am so glad I got it. I finally created a set of presets that adjust my images in the way I want. The content is very structured and jam-packed with info. Next thing to figure out is how to create and use adjustment brushes, and yes, that is also explained it this course. Love it.​ Thank you Pye!