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How to Build and Use Lightroom Presets

Lesson 13 of 15

The Preset System Framework

Pye Jirsa

How to Build and Use Lightroom Presets

Pye Jirsa

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Lesson Info

13. The Preset System Framework

Lesson Info

The Preset System Framework

The preset system is the way that I decided to break out and create a preset. So what we have here this is gonna get... So I just have this slide for HD/Modern Color those are the two different groupings. Classic Filmic, those are two different groupings. So this is the reminder that we talked about earlier so we don't need to spend too much time on this. Select modern or classic. Don't cross into each other. Like be consistent with whatever style you're going with. So we call this a preset system, because it's a workflow for creating presets. Yes, you can use the included presets with this. You can also use this as an educational tool. You can also use it to create your own presets. We wanted to create something that was powerful enough that a user could actually test out lots of different looks, and lots of different things very quickly, and get to a different look entirely by just clicking three or four times. So the way that this starts is you choose a foundation preset, and the fo...

undation presets are based on different color tones, okay. So you have standard color, standard black and white, film color, and film black and white. So for example if I choose Ilford HP5, it's gonna dial in all the base tones, everything for HP5 to have those tonalities. So if we go down to the black and white mix, if you're online you can snapshot. Those are my HP5 settings. (chuckle) Okay, so notice that when we're doing filmic looks, we don't do any sharpening actually on the image, right. So we don't need to sharpen. We want that soft kind of grainy look. So from there you choose a stylization. So right now it includes just a standard curve. We talked about breaking things out, right. So if we know that we're controlling contrast now, the way that the system works is that we control contrast with our curves. So I can actually shift, and let me make sure that... This image looks really dark on my screen, so I'm just gonna brighten it up a little bit. It's good about right there. Is that about right for you guys? Yeah, it's good. Okay, so what do these curves do? A bright wash is gonna brighten and wash out the image. Bright matte is gonna brighten and create a matte finish. Do you notice how just the curve is changing right now? The neutral wash is going to not change exposure, so the first word is dictating the effect over exposure. The second word is dictating the effect over contrast. Brighten and wash out. Brighten and matte finish. Neutral wash out. Neutral punch, that's the standard. Neutral matte, dark wash, and a dark matte. These are both designed to darken and lower contrast. Now I can test out six different curves right there with simple clicks as opposed to actually adjusting this tone curve. This tone curve has been tested across hundreds of images. Instead of doing that, I'm just going, what do I want the preset to do. We talked about that, right. What do I want the look to be? Okay, so I select my curve. Under base tones, we're gonna choose our level of dynamic range. So let me pick a different image. Let's go to an image that could go either way. Let's pick this one. I'm gonna brighten this up a little bit for skin and add a little bit of warmth. Call it good right there. Okay what we're gonna do is choose our foundation. Let's say we want to go for natural color with a little bit of skin desaturation just so that the skin tones are a little more neutral. Okay, that applies that. Stylization, we choose our curve. Let's say I want to go with something soft. Maybe I don't want to change the exposure, but I want a soft matte finish. So I'm gonna create a matte look by selecting that. Now I choose where I want my dynamic range to fall. Do I wanna recover my highlights more? If I want to, I can recover the highlights more. If I want to add HDR to this, I can pull up HDR. It's gonna bring back the shadows, and I can lower my overall exposure. Do I want to lift the shadows up? So a lot of times when your doing film processing, the shadows are lifted. So we have a shadow lift, which is basically pulling up the shadows while retaining highlights. We can do a black crush, and then brighten the image to have a very different look and feel. So what this is doing, as you see me click through here, autorecovery, as you see of these clicks, do you see it modifying just the base tones? Just these guys. This is that separating process. So do you have a question? As you click through those, are they layering on top of each other or do you only get one base tone when you do that? So you pick in each grouping, you select one. So that's the way, that's what we talked about in the prior segment. It was all about understanding how you want to design your framework. This is my framework, so I broke out... I want base zones that control dynamic range. I want curves to control contrast. I want this to control this. And what you're seeing now is the framework drawn out for that. So when you're creating an album and you have different sets, do you stick with the same foundation and then maybe change depending on the different areas that you're shooting in? How do you keep it consistent throughout the album? So I want you to think of this as-- You're only creating your presets to figure out a look that fits you style, basically. Once you've decided that, the only reason that you'd have to change it is if it's a different shooter, you want a different look, or you want to make another adjustment to that. So like, for example, the foundation-- or what you see in the mixologies up here this is all the presets that we've created for our studio, based on the different looks we have. So for you, you could do it a number of ways. Sometimes people would want to go in and play with each individual image, and they want to have that there so they can adjust them that way. But most of the time I would encourage you to develop a set of presets at least on a specific shoot, if not for an overall style. And then apply those presets repeatedly. But when you do styled shoots, it's fun sometimes to create a new preset for like, a styled shoot. You know, something that you wanted to look a little bit more different, a little more unique. So when I'm doing conceptual shoots, style shoots, that's when I'll create specific presets for stuff. Because I wanna push the boundaries a little bit of our style and our work. The portrait mixology and the foundation, how do those work together? It seems to me that if you use the import soft color, then you go to the foundation, aren't you changing what you did? So it's -- So like I said, these are, the portrait mixology, done. They're ready to go. This is how a portrait mixology is created. Does that make sense? So a portrait mixology created by selecting a foundation, choosing the stylization, choosing where we want the base tone dynamic range, and then adding in definition. This is contrast, basically. So, let's say for example-- So, essentially, you're either using the portrait mixology or you're going in and mixing, matching in the foundation and the, okay... So the only person in your entire studio that should be controlling that side, like going down and actually piecing together presets, is you. Your people should be using your equivalent of the portrait mixology folder. Your finished, ready to go presets. Does that kinda make sense? Cause what I can do with this, is I can say, well look, I'd like to... Like, literally talk through you want to do in your head. I want to create a pastel version for this image. So I'm gonna go down and I'm just gonna chose pastel for my standard color, which will automatically shift the toning. Now what I'm gonna do is get this to a kind of place where it looks about where I want it for the exposure and temperature and everything. And then, I'm gonna choose stylization, so do I like the standard curve, where it's at right now, or do I want a modified curve? So if I want, I can test it out and I can say, ooh I like that softer kind of matte look to it, that looks nice. I'm gonna go down and go to the base tone, and say okay, where do I want my highlights, my dynamic range to be? Do I want to lift the shadows a little bit? So maybe I'll lift the shadows a bit, kinda get a brighter look to the image. And then I'm gonna go into definition. And this is where we choose mid-tone definition, so if I want to soften mid-tones, but add back a bit of overall contrast and tweak to this, and then we can just adjust the exposure a little bit. So we're piecing together and layering a preset together. So with three to four clicks, you can have your pastel look, you can have it with a customized matte finish, you can have it however you want it, type thing. Does that make sense? And then what we do is we go back to create a new preset, we'd save this using these settings. Okay, so let's just say we copied this to the clipboard for now. So remember, the test of the preset is apply it to something that is in a similar kind of a look. That should have a similar look to it. It doesn't have to be the same shoot, but let's say, this. So control-shift-V, okay, and we have that soft matte look. If I want to, I can adjust exposure and temperature as needed. But we've just created a custom preset that has your specific color tone and has everything, all the pieces that you want in it. And you can test things out, and see how you like it. This is the basic system. Four clicks, choose your foundation, stylize it, give it a base tone, and then definition helps you to get the contrast back. Because if you choose a base tone with expanded dynamic range, it really flattens out the contrast of the image, right. So the last step is to refine the contrast. We call it definition. So you pick your pieces there. So those are kind of the different pieces that are included within each. Stylization is the curve style plus special effects, Base tone is tone refinement, and then detail refinement. And now one step further. So all the crazy kind of color adjustments that we do in HSL, and all that kind of stuff, I just built out specific presets for each of them. So as I was testing Fuji, and I was testing pastel colors, and I was testing portrait, and testing Ilford, I just create standardized color adjustments for each of those. Curves, I thought, hey - wouldn't it be nice-- hey, hey, that sounded funny... Wouldn't it be nice if I had a set of curves that also could layer and add another step of color adjustments to an image. Again, this is like if you want to get crazy with it. And then special effects for additional split toning and that kind of stuff. I've been wanting to change a little bit of this organization for a while, but everyone's gotten kinda used to it and we've got a lot of users, so I didn't wanna do it right now. Okay, so what I wanna show you is this. Let's pick an image, any image. Let's do this guy. (mouse clicking) Okay, so here's where we pick... Let's say we want dramatic color for this shot. We're saying not for this shot, we're saying for this preset, right? We're creating a preset that we're gonna use repeatedly. So I want dramatic color. I want this preset to have a standard curve, I want it to also have boosted dynamic range, and now I'd like softened mid-tones, and a boost to contrast, and a little bit of dehaze. Okay, so that can be basically our base preset. And if you want, you can go back up and say, you know what, I need either... maybe I want to switch out and just do highlight recovery instead of, like, HDR. I don't want to lift the shadows that much, or maybe you wanna lift it even more. You can take a step backwards, and go back and adjust your base tones without affecting anything else. Does that kind of make sense? So this is the reason why it's split out. It's split out so that I can go back and say you know what, I tested it on this image and it looks great, but on another image, it's too high, so I'm gonna take it a step back, make it a little more natural. Okay, the last layer of this is if you want to do additional tweaks, you can come down to ACS, I called it advanced customization, or adjustments, curves and special effects. Okay, so under color toning, we have every type of basically like, if we wanted to go modern HSL, we can go modern HSL, but we can do skin desaturation, so it pulls the reds out of the skin tones. If I want a blue-green kick, I can do this. This is more control than you guys should really have to worry about, unless you're creating a preset. Does that kinda make sense? You don't do this on every single image, it takes a long time. You create your preset first. Or if I want pastel colors. Okay, for black and white, those adjustments we made over to the HSL, So as I kick it up... So, let's go pick an image that you'd actually be able to see this on... Okay, so let's just apply just this, let's reset... (mouse clicking) Okay, so this is going to shift to the black and white, and you'll notice the black and white mix, right? So each one of these steps is actually brightening skin tones. So I can create a custom black and white preset with black and white skin tones exactly where I would like them. And it's teaching you as well, like, how do you give the skin like a warm kick type thing. You know, it's like literally showing you, oh, that's what we're going to be doing. So when it comes to our people that are coming in to the company, it's very easy to teach them, because the system itself is actually teaching them how to develop. These are HSL adjustments for specifically film. But keep in mind that we're only adjusting color toning, you see up here, this is color toning? So I've reset out this image, and the only thing that is being affected is color adjustments based on, do I want a muted Fuji, a rich Fuji, muted Portra, rich Portra, and we still need to add in our dynamic range, our tones, our everything else to the image. This is the Ilford, black and white presets, and then we go same thing with the curves. So with the curves we've broken it out with color schema. So that way you could actually layer another level. So with each of these neutral curves, these are just, kinda the same thing we saw above, where we did that quick stylization. This is the same thing just with a little more detail in it. So, brighten, wash something out, these are the ones that build processing into it, brighten and matte finish, they basically break everything else out, and then we have finally color schemes, which include different complementary analogous tone-on-tone color schemes. So these would allow you to go through and say, okay... Let's apply just our standard color. I want neutral color with skin desaturation. And brighten this up a little bit. Okay, and then you can actually go in and say, I would like to have that tone-on-tone, that cleaned up skin tones, is just orange on orange. And as soon as you pop that in, that split toning adjustment that we made below is now automatically done for you. So each of these steps has been layered, so that way anytime somebody says, "I want a preset for this." Or, our development team, they'll say, "Hey, we're getting a lot of requests for this look." They can either do it themselves by just talking through the process and clicking, or I can do it for them real quickly, by just going in and making an adjustment. So it's a very powerful system that I expect most of you to probably be staying up in the mixologies, for the majority of the time. That's where you really should be spending your time. But then you can also create your preset in just a matter of a couple of clicks, once you understand the framework, without having to go over here and dial 20 sliders. Just to test out, for example, if I just wanted to test out my curves, right? I want to see what a bright matte does verses a neutral wash verses a neutral matte, just to test this, it's one click over here as opposed to doing this. (mouse clicking) Right? So we're trying to take those things and allow you guys to work through several different variations in a very quick amount of time. Is that like, how do you guys feel, is that overly complicated? Do you guys feel like you understood the process? Oh, go ahead. Does all the numbers you have in front of the presets, those are to keep it organized? That's just to keep it organized, yeah. And we kinda make it so when you look through, let's pick out an image, and reset this out, When you look through it, it actually follows that framework that we talked about. So like, if you're spending most of your time up here, close to the top, then you work your way down through the system, kinda work that way.

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!