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Processing Images with Presets in Lightroom

Lesson 7 from: Travel Photography: The Complete Guide

Ben Willmore

Processing Images with Presets in Lightroom

Lesson 7 from: Travel Photography: The Complete Guide

Ben Willmore

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Lesson Info

7. Processing Images with Presets in Lightroom


Class Trailer



Course Introduction


Camera Gear for Travel


What Camera Gear Should You Buy?


Gear Bags for Travel Photography


Location Research and Pre-Trip Planning


Importing and Naming Conventions in Lightroom


Processing Images with Presets in Lightroom


Lesson Info

Processing Images with Presets in Lightroom

What I'd like to do though is transition a bit from talking about importing our images into adjusting them. And first off, two important keyboard shortcuts, very simple ones. To switch between going to the Develop module, where you optimize your images, and going back here to the Library module, where you see them as little thumbnails in a grid, I type D for Develop, and G for Grid. Just in case you're not aware. But I use those so often I don't even think about them. I rarely need to look down. It's just D and G. So D for Develop, G for Grid. If you ever see me switching back and forth and you don't see my mouse doing anything, that's what I did. So I'm gonna press the letter D here, go to the Develop module, and in the Develop module on the right side we have a bunch of sliders that we can move around to optimize our picture. And I find the more time I spend moving these sliders, the less time I spend in the field taking photographs, or doing research about the next location I'm abou...

t to go to. Or, cleaning my camera gear, or something else that's gonna give me better shots when I'm in the field. And so I want to minimize the amount of time this takes, and here's how I do it. I'm gonna close the area on the right side of your screen. I'm not gonna use that to process my image. You're like, what? That's where the processing sliders are, what are you talking about? Well there's this area on the left side of my screen. That's what I'm gonna use. The area on the left side of my screen has this area at the very top if I expand it called the Navigator. That's gonna be our little guide. We're gonna love the Navigator. What the Navigator usually does is if you click on your picture, usually you'll zoom in to like 100% view, and the Navigator shows you what part of the image you're viewing. If I zoom up on my screen, do you see a little rectangle there? That's the portion of the image you're seeing over here on the right, and usually you can click on a different area over here and it'll move it to you, or you can drag that little box around, and that's what most people think of the Navigator as being for. Above the Navigator you also have the choices of what view do you want? Right now we're at one to one, that means 100% view. You're seeing all the detail. Or we could say let's fit the image within this area. So that's what the Navigator is often for. I use it along with presets to make processing much faster. And you're going to get all of my presets with this course if you purchase it. And it's not just a few presets. This is over 400 presets that have taken me a long time to put together. And the idea behind these presets is make processing fast, okay? So let's take a look. And after we're done with that, we'll go to the normal sliders in case you don't purchase the class, and you don't have those presets, or you run across an image that the presets just don't work on, okay? So here goes. First look at this area over here, here's my presets. The naming convention is a little bit different. Do you notice how instead of just having the name for a folder of presets, there is a number and sometimes a letter before it? That's because certain presets should be applied first, before others. And so the ones that start with the number one are usually ones that need to be applied first. You need to get through those presets, make sure you've done that part of it before you move on to the twos or the threes. So it gives you kind of an order. On the right side, you see in parentheses, it has words like Basic, or if you go down here, Tone Curve, or HSL. Well what that is is those correspond to if I had the right side of my screen open over here, you'll see that there is a section here called Basic. That means the presets that end with the word Basic are using these particular sliders that are found under the Basic area. The one called Tone Curve are using the sliders that are found under this area. HSL, and so on. And the reason why it has that is if I were to apply two presets that use the same section of adjustments, one will override the other. Because one is saying, move the brightness slider to 10, and the second one I applied is saying move the brightness slider to two. So one canceled out the other, or overrid it. Make sense? But, if I know that this set of presets only uses the basic adjustments, and this next set only uses the Tone Curve adjustments, they're not overlapping in their functionality then, so you can apply one on top of the other, and in essence you have both applied. One didn't cancel out or override it. Make sense? So that's why the naming convention is over there, where we have Basic, Tone Curve, HSL, okay? That just tells me, I can apply, if I apply one of these and one of these, I might end up overriding the first one I applied. But if I look under each section that's over here, like I look under Basic, there's a whole bunch of sliders that are here, and it might be that one of my presets only uses the exposure slider, and another preset only uses shadow slider. And if that's the case, I could apply them both. They wouldn't override each other, so that's why if you expand any of these preset folders, that's what each one of these is, watch what happens when I get it open. Look at the end. You know how much time it took to set this up? On the end, do you see these letters? These tell you which sliders it's using. So if I look under the Basic area for sliders that start with E, S, and H, what would that be? It would be the sliders called Exposure, Shadows, and Highlights. So therefore I can tell, would one override another? Because I can tell exactly which sliders are being applied. Not everybody will have to think that way, but I thought through it because after really working on these, it got to the point where you'd apply one preset, and certain other presets would screw up the first one. But by doing it this way, if I think about it, I can tell, would one preset screw up another? Because do they use overlapping settings or not? But you don't have to use that. You could just use the presets, ignoring those, and just on occasion you'd have one overriding another. All right then, other things is I have plus signs if I'm increasing something, and you'll find minus signs if I'm decreasing. That's because it always sorts these alphabetically, and in order to get them so they group together nicely, I've done that. Also there are percentages, so each preset has different strengths, and if you notice the strengths, here it goes zero, 25, 50, 75, 100, but they can go beyond 100. Well what happens is the sliders that are found that you usually adjust your images with, they have limits, but if you know enough about those sliders, that one slider you might need to apply might have a limit, and you max it out, but if you know enough about the sliders, you might be able to supplement it with other sliders to go further. And that's what happens when you go above 100. But enough about that dumb details, let's find out about how these work. So if you look at this particular image, what I dislike about the image is the bright portion of the image. I have two options. I could make the bright portion even brighter, make it go to solid white, and if so, it would be a really clean looking image, so it would just be the interior of this little, it's like a little taxi but it's a bicycle-like moped taxi thing, rickshaw like almost. Anyway this is, if I did that, you'd see the interior and what's outside would be solid white, it would be overly simple, rather graphic. Or, I could say I want to see the detail in those bright areas, and it's up to me. I'm gonna say I want to see the detail. So if that's the case, I look over here, and if you ever see the word Tonal, there's just two categories I put adjustments in. Color adjustments, and things that aren't color adjustments, but how do you say, things that are not involving color? You need a word for it. I call it tonal. So tonal adjustment means a brightness or a contrast adjustment. So anyway I'm gonna go for tonal darkening. That means just to the brightness, darken it. I'll flip that open, and if we look at what's in here, we have highlights, we have overall, we have shadows. So I can isolate those particular areas. Now this would be the highlights, wouldn't it? The bright part of the image. Watch what happens when I hover over these presets. I'm just gonna start to hover over them and watch the Navigator in the upper left. Do you see it changing? It's previewing the effect I'm gonna get with this preset if I were to click my mouse to choose it, but I haven't clicked my mouse so I haven't applied it yet. So I can just mouse over this and say, well I want to go down here, how far? Let's see, this thing maxes out at what? 325, that's ridiculous, that's too much. Let's back off on it and go to only there, click. Now it's just applied it to my picture. Now did I have to know over here that in order to achieve that effect I need to bring the exposure down, I need to bring highlights down, I need to bring shadows up, and I need to, you know. I don't have to have that knowledge. I only have to remember how I did that once, and that's me, I made it a preset. If you have these presets you don't ever have to know it if you don't want to. And so now look at that particular image. Now I could interpret it a different way. I could instead go over here to my tonal brightening, and let's see if I want to blow out those highlights. I might come over here and say, well maybe about there. Getting close to being blown out, maybe a little further. I could then come in here and say I want to brighten maybe the shadows. Go down here to shadows and say, okay well what do I want to do with those? All I'm dong is looking at that Navigator and clicking. Isn't that much faster to process the image with like two clicks than it is to sit there and think about what slider is it that would affect that, and what other slider would I need to combine it with to get to that kind of an effect? So to me that's much faster. So let's just process some images, and know that it's usually much easier to do than what I'm gonna show you here. The reason why it's usually easier is when I work on my laptop or on a bigger screen, I can usually see a very large number of these presets. But when we record for CreativeLIVE, we're at a medium resolution on this screen, which makes it so everything, it feels like you're using a smaller screen. So instead of having my 15 inch laptop, it feels like a 12 inch as far as real estate goes, and so it's gonna be a lot more scrolling. So anyways let's process a bunch of images, and see how the presets can help us. So I'm just gonna hit D for Develop. I look at this image, and I think the highlights are a bit too bright, so I'm gonna come over here to tonal darken, into my highlights, and I'm just looking at the preview in the Navigator. Just gonna dial down until I find what I like. Tap, that looks a lot better. Maybe I want to come in here and do a little bit of clarity on it, because that'll make things pop. So I have different amounts of clarity. I can just kind of preview here. When I find what I like I'll click, get that in there. And, let's see here, we could try some vibrance and saturation. I can come in here, and see what happens if I bring up saturation a bit. See what happens if I bring up vibrance instead, or I have some special ones in here that use both sliders. Where I can say, should I take, should I mellow out the subtle colors? Or should I boost the subtle colors in the image? So usually that means if there were some prominent colors, let's say we have some flowers in an image, or we have a bright red canoe or something like that, what do I want to do to everything that's not that bright red canoe? The mellower colors, do I want to make them more mellow? Or do I want to boost them to make them more colorful? So just mousing over these will allow me to really find out, in this case I think I'm gonna bring it closer to a black and white. Now if it's closer to a black and white though, then it might be nice to do a little split tonings, maybe some warm tones onto this, to add a little bit of color back. So I'm gonna see about coming in here, just mousing over these, see what I like. Maybe about there. If you saw, just a little bit of warmth come into the image. But what's so great about using presets is you don't have to remember all the techniques needed to get to that effect. And so I have all sorts of them in here for you to try out. If you like more dramatic color, or less dramatic. Let's do another image. I'll just use the right arrow key to go on to the next image, and I might skip a few images. That one the highlights might be, or I also have some in here that are called Tonal Range Compressor, and Tonal Range Expander. Tonal Range Expander would be if you have something that was shot in the fog, think about what a foggy scene looks like. The difference between the brightest part of the scene and the darkest is not all that great of a difference. So you could expand that tonal range. Remember tonal means brightness, so you're expanding the brightness range. Or let's say instead you were shooting midday sun, sun is right above you, and you're shooting, you're gonna have really harsh shadows. You're gonna have an extremely bright highlights, and that's when you might want to instead compress that tonal range. Make those highlights get darker. Make those shadows get lighter, and that's what I might have in this case, so I'm gonna go over here to Tonal Range Compressor, and I'm just gonna start doing this. Now if you look, I have choices here. I can weight it towards the highlights so the highlights get most of the work to happen. I can do it overall, or I can weight it towards the shadows, where the shadows are gonna get more work. So I'm gonna come in here and just mouse over these, see what I like, maybe about there. And then on this image I might decide a little bit of color adjustment. So let's go over here to Vibrance and Saturation and see what looks better. Some saturation boost, nah it's too colorful in the shadowy areas. Or here a vibrance boost, I don't mind that. Maybe about to there, click. Little bit of clarity possibly. Clarity's a little harder to preview on that small preview, but I can always click on one preview, go to the next, the next, the next, and that's why if I need to see it on the main image, I've always included one that undoes whatever the effect is. If you look at the first choice here will usually say zero zero, and that means okay I might have clicked on one of these, but in the end I decide, nah I don't like that. Well I don't want to have to go over and figure out what sliders we're used to make that effect. Instead I include this choice of zero zero, so when I click there, it means undo, get rid of whatever one of these I did apply. All right, let's just see, oh that might be a highlights, so I'll go to darken, highlights are good. There I might end up doing a little vibrance on that to make it more colorful, and it's just a matter of getting used to what the various sliders, or various controls are available in here. Is that gonna be too much? Maybe not. So, anyway hopefully that gives you a sense for make it fast. And, I'm just gonna show you ones that so far we've needed to darken things. I'm just gonna show you a few that need to be brightened, and then we'll start playing with the normal sliders after we go through any questions you might have. So I'm gonna go over here now to tonal brighten, and in this case I think the highlights, meaning the bright part of the image, look fine. The sky, that doesn't need to be brightened. It's the dark parts, so I'll scroll through here until I find ones that mention the shadows, and I'll see if I can hover over those. And I'm not gonna bring a tremendous amount out of this one. I might also try the tonal compression, see if I prefer it, because it's gonna bring my sky in more. That, and I might be able to do a little shadow weighted, it all depends. It's not always easy to predict. So anyways it gives you some sense for how you might be able to go about using the presets. If you don't purchase the class, make your own presets. All you've got to do is spend an afternoon moving a slider like the exposure slider, saving it as a preset. Move it a little further, save a new preset. Move it a little further, save a new preset, and if something involves more than one sliders, just move them a progressive amount between each preset you make, and you can come up with your own set that you find to be overly useful. And just for fun I created a set in here that's called I'm Feeling Lucky. And I'm Feeling Lucky ones, you know how on Google when you search, they have, there's always, I never click it but it's always there. When you do a search, right next to where you type it in there is a button called I'm Feeling Lucky, and what it does as far as I remember is it brings you to the very first search result it would have come up with. And therefore you never see the list of results. Well this, these are all presets that use all of the sliders. They don't tell you which ones because it's using most of them, and so they do much more dramatic things and you're feeling lucky because it really depends on the kind of image you have. So I can come over here, wow the first one, look at that. That made it look much better. I didn't expect it to, but it happened to, and so these are ones where you can try them if you happen to feel lucky, but I thought this would be fun. And there's also color tweaks in here. There's a lot of fall color presets, because when it comes to fall color, you can have a lot of variability when it comes to what colors are shown in your image. And these can sometimes help that. It depends on the image though. In this particular case we mainly have oranges and reds, so these aren't always gonna do a lot, but if you look at like what that made to the sky. Do you see the sky just got darker and blue? Sometimes these will make various colors separate. And we have sky darkeners in here as well. So, questions about presets before we start messing with the normal sliders. To do things when the presets aren't helpful. For some images you'll need them. All right well first of all, Ben, people are very excited about these presets being included with the class. I have to mention something about them. These presets I've been developing for a long time. They will eventually be a product. That product will cost more than this class, okay? So you are getting a good thing if you do that, but when they're available as a product, they'll also come with an eBook that shows you how to use them, how to think about each section, and we don't have the time to get too deep into that. So there's gonna be a lot more to it, and there will be a larger set. I'm sure somebody will ask, can I get a discount on that if I get the class? No you don't, you're getting a bonus here for this. And it might take a long time for me to put together that product, so just want to let you know. Yeah, great, thank you, and to that point, for people watching right now, there is a sampler pack that is available right now as we're filming this that is already up there for those of you who are purchasing the class. The difference is there will be a full set in a couple of weeks once that is complete. We should mention, the ones that are available immediately, there's 105 in that set. The ones that will eventually be available, there's over 400 in that set. And they'll be available about a week after this ends. Great, awesome, so huge, huge value, so thank you so much. Everyone in the room is like, uh yeah. Okay so some questions about that. Will there be some instructions on how to get those into your Lightroom? Yes, we already have, it'll take me a moment to find it because I wasn't expecting to need it, but we already have a little guide about how you install presets, and it will show you exactly how to get them installed. I don't remember what else is included within it. It might tell you just a little bit about, yeah it does tell you how to use them in that, make sure the Navigator is visible, hover over them to see the preview. And it tells you if the preview ever doesn't update, then look on the right side of the Lightroom interface right where this histogram is, and see if there's a lightning bolt appearing in the lower right. The lightning bolt means that picture you're working on was adjusted with an old version of Lightroom, and the kind of sliders that were available in that old version are different than what's in the modern version, and so the preset can't apply to that image, unless you click the little lightning bolt that might appear to update it. Then they'll work fine. So anyway, it tells you all that in that install guide, okay? So, sometimes when I'm using the Navigator it's like a different picture than the one that's on my big screen. Uh I can't remember when that happens. It happens on occasion when you're down here, and I know there used to be a bug related to it that I believe has been fixed, but I don't recall what the situation was. So I don't know what to tell you there, because I just don't have it fresh in my head. Then the other question I have is, if you're by chance working on two screens, is it possible to move the Navigator to a different screen? Oh, I'm not certain, because I don't use two screens, and so therefore I haven't needed to do that. You can control what is on a separate monitor, you can choose to see like the thumbnail view versus other things, but I don't know of a way to get just the Navigator and the presets over there. And I wish we could make the Navigator larger, or see the preview on the main image. But that's not currently possible, at least not that I'm aware of. Thank you. Sure. Great questions. All right so a lot of people are asking, Ben, what versions of Lightroom will all these presets work for? Well they haven't been extensively tested on old, old versions. They were developed mainly with Lightroom 5, and we're currently on Lightroom 6 I believe, so they should, I'm making the assumption then that they'll work with Lightroom 5 and 6, but it hasn't had extensive testing. That's part of it turning into a product also is I have to test and find that information out. So if you have a much older version, I'm not sure if it'll work, okay? Fantastic, okay so, question is about, this is from Al Carey. When you select a preset and you don't like it, is it important to undo? Or can you just select another preset to override it? Is there a difference between those two? There is a difference. It depends, let me show you a preset and how I use a weird system. This system is mainly used for me. I don't know how useful it'll be for you because some people just don't like thinking about details. They just want it to work, and if you just want it to work, choose Undo like you mentioned to do it, or open the history and go back a few steps. But if you look on the end of the file name that I have here, do you notice that some of the letters indicated are uppercase and some are lowercase? What that means is the uppercase ones, it needed to use that slider in order to get this effect. The one where it's lowercase means that that slider ended up being set to zero, so you know it zeroed out that particular slider. Because otherwise if I applied this particular preset, which does not need the letter C which is contrast, and then this one, which does need the contrast slider, and decided, nah I like that other one better, and I just clicked back on it. Well if I didn't have it zeroing out contrast, then you would still have some remnants from that last preset you had applied. So I try to work through as much of this as I possibly can, but there's only so much I can work out, because there's only so much possible with presets. So for those presets that have one called zero zero, which whenever I could easily zero them out I added that, you can click that to say you didn't like a particular portion. But if it's something you just applied, Command + Z or Control + Z for Undo. It's always easy to work with. So here this image, here I'll reset on the lower right. Here's the original. This would be an instance for tonal range compression. We have too much of a brightness range. Too much of the image close to black, too much of the image close to white. I want to compress the range to make bright things get dark, dark things to brighten up. That will compress it. So I'm in tonal range compressor, and I just mouse over, watch our preview. This one's Highlight Weighted, so do you notice the highlights are the primary areas being changed? Then over here is overall, but if you actually look at the image, the original, isn't it the shadows that really need the most work? Because there's a person standing there and they really need the most work, so once I get down here to the shadow weighted ones, that's where I find the magic. Right there, one click. Making that much better I think, and I don't have to know about this stuff. Look at this, I had to do highlights, shadows, and exposure, and a little clarity to get there. Who wants to know all that stuff? I just want to see the preview, click and do it, and so that's why we ended up putting those together.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Lightroom Presets Quickstart Guide
Lightroom Preset Sampler
Pre-Trip Planning
Actions Sampler Guide
Travel Photography Handbook
Actions Sampler
Lightroom Keywords
Big Set of Lightroom Presets
Practice Images
Travel Photogtaphy Mobile Guide
Gear List
Lightroom Tips and Keyboard Shortcuts

Ratings and Reviews


This was simply an amazing experience! Without a doubt the best investment of time and money I have experienced in quite awhile. Ben's complete command of the subject, the practical tips, suggestions and reference information was outstanding. I have enjoyed point and shoot photography for some time and recently decided to invest in some decent DSLR equipment (Canon EOS D70). I have a trip to Cape Town and Johannesburg South Africa rapidly approaching and thought it might be a good idea to take some classes and make an effort to get up the learning curve ASAP to take advantage of this travel opportunity. "Discovering" Creativelive and Ben Willmore's class was literally an answer to prayer! There is nothing like sitting at the foot of wisdom, taking notes, and having numerous "ah-ha" moments! This was great....looking forward to more classes. Thanks for the high quality effort!

a Creativelive Student

Genius! Ben is a brilliant master teacher - focused, clear and holds back no information. The best! This course has condensed the equivalent of 10 courses into one. He is a perfectionist in his approach and knows how to present the material. He is the leader in photoshop and photography "par excellence". Highly recommend any of his courses. Save your time and start with the best - everyone loves Ben!!!!

Nichole Sams

I feel the title of this class, Travel Photography, is much to limiting for what you are really going to get. As a wedding photographer, who dreams of traveling, I attending the class live in Seattle, and was hoping to get some inspiration for on location shoots. What I got, however, was a WHOLE LOT MORE. I would recommend this class to anyone with a camera and Lightroom. What I learned about how lightroom works and how to integrate it with photoshop is invaluable. I actually think they should charge WAY more for this course. The bonuses with purchase from the keywords (we are talking every key word you could possibly imagine) and the presets (holycow everything you would ever need) are worth exponentially more than the course price itself. Ben is a gentle easy going teacher and nice to listen to. His ease of teaching pretty complex ideas was truly wonderful. If you are reading this you must buy this course, it is well worth it!

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