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Creating and using presets in Lightroom Classic to speed up your workflow

I am a big fan of using presets in Lightroom Classic to speed up your workflow. I find that you can create a certain look for a series and keep it completely cohesive throughout all the images in that series, without the need to continually compare what was achieved in the previous edit. These can then be saved to use again on new edits and series.

The few minutes it takes to create a preset that you really like can save a lot of time in the long run, and presets can still be altered once used — they are not fixed.

Creating a preset

I have a system for cataloging my images and I invariably store images from the same series in the same folder. This way I can select the folder in the library and open the images into the Develop module.

There are two things that I do first, camera aberrations and a camera lens adjustment settings. I save those as a basic starting point — I use this one all the time. I often have a Basic Preset that I will use on all images, frequently I like to add a touch of contrast and clarity as well, but that is a personal choice. On the left hand side of your screen, you should find a Preset panel, there you can create a folder to store your personal presets in by pressing the + button. Right click on your image and save the preset into that created folder, with a name that has some meaning, something like ‘Basic Camera Adjustments,’ ‘Reset’ or something similar.

Next, I will do some white balance adjustments and then play with my other sliders, adding or removing contrast, highlights etc. I work down the list of adjustment panels until I am happy with the result. I can then create another preset, however, I do not select exposure or anything from the transform tool, as it is possible these may need to be tweaked for each individual image. Once that is done you can then select all images (Ctrl + A) and using the sync function, apply to all your images. Give it a minute to run through and then viola! All the images have the same settings.

I like to just double check the exposure for each image, it is possible that they were set in the presets as well for this series, but may not be suitable for another. I also like to crop each image and to straighten each image with the transform tool as well.

Using a preset

This is the easy part, open an image and then select the preset from the preset panel. Lightroom does it all for you — you can use it again and again on different images. I would, however, double check exposure, levels, white balance and anything corrected with the transform tool, in case it changed something you didn’t want. If you don’t like that preset on the image you can use the reset preset you have made, this keeps any crop or exposure you may have previously had.

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