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By Jan Kabili |

How to combine and modify presets in Lightroom

Many photographers rely on Develop presets to quickly change the appearance of photos in Adobe Lightroom. You can extend the power of presets by modifying them to meet your current needs, or by combining presets on a photo.

Modifying presets By modifying a preset, you can make a third-party preset your own or update one that you created yourself.

Modifying a preset in Lightroom

Start by applying a preset to a representative photo. Then change controls in the Develop module to get the look you want. In this example, I applied a brightening preset and modified it by tweaking the Exposure and Shadows sliders in the Basic panel. I also added some saturation to this photo, although I don’t intend that change to be included in my brightening preset. After modifying some Develop settings, right-click (Mac: Control+click) the preset in the Presets panel and choose Update with Current Settings.

The Update Develop Preset dialog

In the Update Develop Preset window, click Check None; then check just the settings you want to include in the modified preset. I checked Exposure and Shadows. I also checked Process Version to ensure the preset uses the processing technology underlying my version of Lightroom. I left Saturation unchecked, because the saturation I applied to this photo is not integral to my brightening preset. Including only those properties that serve the purpose of your preset gives you more flexibility to apply this preset in combination with others in the future.

Click Update. Now when you apply this preset to other photos, it will use these modified settings.

Combining presets You can apply more than one preset to a photo. However if you want to layer, rather than overwrite the effect of each preset, use presets that do not include the same settings.

Color to Greyscale preset

For example, the first preset I applied to this photo converted it from color to grayscale. This graphic black and white preset was built and saved with Basic and HSL/Color/BW settings.

Brown tone preset

On top of that, I applied a brown tone preset that was built and saved with only Split Toning sliders. This preset does not include any Basic or HSL/Color/BW settings. Therefore it adds to, rather than overwrites, the effect of the first preset.

Dark vignetting preset

Then I applied a dark vignette preset that includes only Post-Crop Vignetting settings. So this preset also adds another layer to the effect, without overwriting the effects of the preceding presets.

Light vignetting preset

However, if I now apply a light vignette preset, which uses the same Post-Crop Vignetting sliders as the dark vignette, but with different values, the light vignette preset will overwrite the dark vignette preset on the photo.

Tip: If you’re curious about whether one preset is likely to overwrite another, try applying each to a different photo and checking which settings in the Develop module are no longer at their defaults.

For lots more on Lightroom presets, see my lynda.com course Using Presets in Lightroom.

Adobe and Lightroom are registered trademarks of Adobe Systems Incorporated in the United States and/or other countries.

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