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Update Default Settings in Lightroom

Lesson 22 from: Travel Photography: The Complete Guide

Ben Willmore

Update Default Settings in Lightroom

Lesson 22 from: Travel Photography: The Complete Guide

Ben Willmore

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Lesson Info

22. Update Default Settings 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

Update Default Settings in Lightroom

We're gonna spend some time in Lightroom now. In the past, we did some basic things in Lightroom. Where we used presets to try to quickly process our images or at least get them majority of the way through what they needed processing wise. Then we would go to the basic sliders that were there and fine tune them a little bit. Maybe adjust the whites or the blacks just to make sure we have the nice brightness range. But now what I'd like to do is explore it in a little bit more depth. The first thing that I like to think about in Lightroom is to actually change my default settings. Because if I click on an image that has never been adjusted before, and I press the letter D for develop to go to the develop module. And I look at what it gives me for default setting adjustments, well it's pretty much no adjustment. Because it's trying to show me more what my camera captured. And not what Lightroom is capable of turning that into. And I would rather have it start with something closer to my ...

finishing point, you know? So if you think about the kind of adjustments that you seem to do over and over and over again, a lot of people you'll find increase vibrance on almost every picture they ever take. And if that's the case, because vibrance will make it more colorful, they like that color. Why not somehow get it to update the default settings so the vibrance is already turned up and so you don't have to waste the time coming in and making that change on every image over and over again? Also if you happen to do a lot of travel photography and you shoot midday, you're gonna find that often times there's some overly common adjustments you do, you bring out a little bit of shadow detail, you darken down your highlights a little bit. Cause there's just too much contrast in the scene. And so we can look at how we can update our presets or our defaults I should say. One of the presets that you get with the course, but you can just write down the numbers if you wanna create your own, is one that's called Ben's defaults. And it's just a setting that's not bad to start with. I'm gonna click on it right now and apply it to this particular picture. And see if you can see the difference. I'll hide the right side of my screen just for a moment. And I'll choose undo. So here is before. If you shoot street photography, especially in midday, when you look at this you can see that the dark portion of the image is quite dark. For those of you in the studio, remember, you see a lot more shadow detail than everybody else does right now. But when I click on Ben's defaults, watch the highlights. The really bright areas. You see how they get a little darker. And the shadows, they pop up. And color becomes more colorful. All that kind of stuff. So let's look at what is in that default setting. So if you happen to not purchase the course and you don't have that preset, you can make it on your own. Cause you don't need to buy a class just for one preset. What you wanna do in order to do your own preset, or your own default, I should say. I keep substituting those words. Is click on a picture, just find any picture you want. That's a raw file and click on it. Go to the develop module, and before you move any of these sliders, hit the reset button in the lower right. What reset will do is clear away any adjustments that have already been applied to that picture. So, it'll make sure you're currently at the defaults. Cause we don't want to happen to click on a picture that has some really odd setting attached to it that you don't realize is there and suddenly incorporate that into our default settings. We wanna make sure that we know exactly what's in our defaults. And then, after that you're gonna move the adjustment sliders to determine what you want your new defaults to be. And I'll just show you what I applied to the previous image. Let's take a look. First off, don't change the temperature and tint. Leave it set to as shot because you wanna use whatever your camera was set to as your starting point. You don't want every single picture to act like it's trying to correct for daylight when you don't always shoot under daylight. That kind of thing. So, leave that as at shot. Or as shot. But let's take a look at this. Here I bumped up the contrast a little bit, to plus 10. I've brought the highlights down a little bit. It's not that you need 54, you can put 50 in. It's not like an exact number, it's just an idea, a concept. I brought highlights down to give me additional highlight detail, it's gonna darken my highlights, bring me more detail in the white clouds that are in the sky, or other bright things. I brought the shadows up quite a bit to bring me a lot more shadow detail in that image. And then down below, I brought clarity up a little bit. Clarity is going to make the textures and little details in your image be emphasized. If you primarily shoot people, I might not bring that up because it's going to also emphasize the textures in their skin. And it will make them look older. But if they're just people that are small in the frame, they're not like their face taking up three quarters of the picture, you'll be fine with it. It's just if you happen to shoot primarily people up close. I wouldn't bring the clarity up so high. You might in fact make it negative for big faces. Vibrance is up a bit, plus 30. To make the image a bit more colorful. Make it pop. Couple other things. Under these other choices, if I go into a choice called detail, in detail is where sharpening is applied. And with default settings, there is some sharpening applied to your entire picture. And that's in general a good thing. But this setting down here called masking is usually turned all the way down to zero. And what masking is going to do is when it's set to zero, it ends up sharpening your entire picture. And that means it's gonna sharpen areas that don't have any useful detail. If you have a blue sky, and that's all it is is a blue sky. What detail is in your sky? Is there any texture? Can you see wood grain? Can you see the weave of fabric? Can you see anything? No. So why are we sharpening the sky with default settings? You know what shows up the most in a blue sky? Sensor dust specs. You know those little shadowy round specs you find that's little dust sitting on your camera sensor? Well, you're sharpening those with the default settings. Also, skin tones. When skin is nice and smooth on somebody's face, should we really end up sharpening it? You're gonna emphasize it, you're gonna make them look older. But as you bring masking up, in this case I brought it up to 32, it's just around 30 is fine. That's only gonna cause it to sharpen areas where there's actually detail. It's gonna ignore the areas where there's just subtle variation in the image. And therefore your sky won't be sharpened anymore. Unless there's a cloud in it that has detail. And people's faces will be less sharpened. And I think it's better. Other things that I might incorporate into my new default settings is under lens corrections, there's a checkbox in here called remove chromatic aberration. Chromatic aberrations are if you ever look on the edge of a high contrast object, meaning a dark object on a bright background. Or a bright object on a dark background. You might see a little color halo around the edge. Usually might look like kinda greenish on one side and it might look kinda magenta on the other side. Really skinny halo on it. That's a chromatic aberration and if you turn this on, it will correct for it. Why not have it corrected on every image you open? You could if you wanted to, turn on this checkbox called enable profile corrections. And that would correct for any distortion that your lens causes. With lenses, vertical lines that should be perfectly straight are often bent outward or inward. That's known as barrel or pincushion distortion. And turning on that checkbox will in general automatically correct for it. So, if you'd like that for all your images, you could turn that on. The one disadvantage of that, the main disadvantage, is if you shoot with a fisheye lens, the fisheye lens really bends things. And it will try to correct for it. Straightening things out. And your fisheye shots won't look fisheye anymore. So if you don't have a fisheye lens, you might want it on, and if you do, you gotta decide. How often do you shoot with a fisheye? Because if this is gonna become our defaults, then with all your fisheye shots, you're probably gonna wanna go select them and just go to that checkbox and turn it off so that they're not corrected. So that's up to you. So anyway, those are some of the changes. That's what I would probably suggest you do. Now, to get that to be my new default setting, I'll go to the develop menu at the top of my screen. And I find a choice called set default settings. And when I choose that, this thing comes up. And these defaults will be for one specific camera. Cause different cameras give really different rendering where one camera might deliver really vivid colors, another camera more mellow colors. So, you'd have to do this for each camera. And if you tell it to do this, it sounds a little scary if you look. It says please note that these changes are not undoable. So it's kind of make you feel a little apprehensive, but then why did they add this button? Which is to restore them to the defaults that you had before, the original defaults? What's not undoable is if you already had some custom settings in there. You had done this process before. And you are replacing your old custom defaults with some new custom defaults. That's not undoable. If you use the undo command it wouldn't bring them back. But this often times people read it and they get all afraid about clicking the button. Uh no. You can always come back and do this process over again and just click restore and you'd be back as if you never messed with it. I'm not gonna do that right now just because I want you to see my images as they come off the camera. Cause that's what you're used to seeing. But, once you're used to this and everything, you can change your defaults and you'll get a better looking start image. Also, just so you know, you can save presets and in the import dialogue box, on the right side, there is a choice called preset. So, if you know there are certain shooting situations where you always use different settings, like you put in these default settings, but now you are shooting people where their face takes up three quarters of the frame and you find you like different settings for the faces. Well, make a preset for it. Then in the import dialogue box, when you're importing those pictures that include people's faces that are huge, on the right side just say hey I wanna use this other preset instead of the defaults. So, you can do that. Yes? So you mentioned like that one had like your 5D mark three color, or is it profile? Now in camera when you're shooting, do you change like you know how there's like neutral like a lot of people like oh, put it on neutral or some people do I don't know if it's land portrait, landscape or adjust your levels. What do you primarily shoot with in camera? Well, in camera, that setting only affects jpeg files. It doesn't affect raw files. And if you wanna simulate what those settings look like, cause you like the look of them, then you can go in Lightroom and when you're in the develop module, you scroll down to this area called camera calibration. And you will find under camera calibration there is a popup menu right here called profile. And if you click on it, this should list those same choices you just mentioned. And so if you wanna simulate what your camera would deliver with a jpeg file when the camera is set to neutral, choose this. And you'll get a similar look. It'll simulate it here in Lightroom. And so you can do that. The thing that it might be an advantage of, and I actually have a test that I should but I haven't, is in changing that, it'll most likely change the appearance of your playback of the image. Because the playback, you're seeing a jpeg preview. And it will, should, change the appearance of that. So, I might go in there and change it just so the playback image that I get gives me a different idea, if there's one that gives me more highlight detail or something else. I might do that. But, it doesn't affect what you get in Lightroom. If you're shooting raw. Just jpegs. And if you shoot jpegs, then it's a personal choice. Choose the one you like. Alright so, better defaults. I'm gonna choose all these images I have in this particular folder and I'm going to apply my preset that was called better defaults. And then after I apply that, not sure what. Hold on a second, just gotta send it over to develop. There we go. I'm going to select all those images and apply better defaults, I think I got them all selected. Just need to make sure that's been applied. Alright. Then, if I don't like the defaults on an image, all I need to do, it's not gonna improve every single picture. For instance, this image here, I don't know that it helped because this image was overexposed a bit. It was rather light. Well, that's when we might start with those defaults and then we just head over to our presets. This image is a little bright so I go to total darken, get my little navigator up, and just mouse over and see how much more work does it need. Well. And then head over to the right side and just fine tune it, finish it off. But that's the general process. It gets a better default, you throw some presets on it to get it close to done, then you head over to the sliders, finish it off. With whatever specialized adjustment it needs. Does that work mindset wise? Yeah. So let's explore Lightroom in more depth. Yeah, go ahead. Got a quick question. Before that. This is from Sam. With a set default option as you just talked about, no current images are affected, right? This is moving forward. That's a great question because that's something I should have mentioned. And that is no images that you have already adjusted. If you moved a single slider on an image, it will not change. But, all of the images where you have never moved a slider, that are currently at default settings, they will change. Because you just changed the defaults. And but it's only those images that you've never adjusted. They will change the appearance. Okay. Okay. And then the second part of the question was pressing reset resets an image to the set defaults, not the out of camera values, right? There is no, the only thing that comes out of camera in general is the white balance setting. Other than that, those, the camera doesn't control where all the other sliders go. It's just the white balance that it happens to pick up. So, when I hit reset, it means bring me to the current default settings. And as long as your default settings has white balance set to as shot, that still comes in from the camera. But the camera doesn't control the rest of the sliders. Never does. Alright, thank you.

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!

Student Work