Trouble with Presets

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Today’s Question: I would like to know how to create a preset [in Lightroom]. I created one, but neglected to set “As Shot” [for the White Balance adjustment] before creating it. So now every image I import is blue!

Tim’s Quick Answer: In general when creating a preset in Lightroom, I recommend working with an image for which the adjustments have been reset to the defaults. You may also want to limit which adjustments are included as part of the preset, so that other existing changes to adjustment settings will not be lost when the preset is applied.

More Detail: In the context of Lightroom, a preset simply records the value for adjustment settings found on the right panel in the Develop module. In other words, presets aren’t able to add any effect that isn’t already possible within Lightroom. Presets provide a quick way to apply specific adjustment settings to an image, which can be helpful in a variety of scenarios.

To get started, I recommend selecting an image that you aren’t particularly concerned about, but that still provides a good representative sample based on the adjustments you intend to include in the preset. Then click the Reset button at the bottom of the right panel in the Develop module in order to reset the adjustments to their default values. This would include, for example, the “As Shot” setting for White Balance noted in today’s question.

Next, apply the various adjustments you want to include in the preset. Perhaps you want to apply the Lens Corrections adjustments to all images you import, for example. Or you might want to make a creative preset that includes a conversion to black and white with a vignette effect added.

Once you’ve applied all of the adjustments you want to include in your preset, you can create the actual preset. Start by clicking on the plus symbol (+) to the right of the Presets heading on the left panel in the Develop module. In the dialog that appears, first type a meaningful name for the preset based on the adjustments you’ve applied. You can then choose the Folder you want to include the new preset in, which is simply a way to group presets together to stay better organized.

Next, you’ll want to decide which adjustments you want to include in the preset. In general, I recommend first clicking the “Check None” button to disable all adjustments, and then turn on the checkbox only for those adjustments you actually want to include in the preset. Note that you can also turn on the “Auto Tone” checkbox if you want Lightroom to apply the automatic tonal adjustments on a per-image basis when you apply the preset to one or more images.

When you have configured the settings for the new preset, click the Create button to save the new preset and close the New Develop Preset dialog. The preset can then be found in the folder you selected below the Presets heading on the left panel in the Develop module. You can apply that preset to any image by selecting the image and then clicking on the name of the preset. Note that it is also possible to apply a preset to all images being imported within the Import dialog, using the Develop Settings popup in the Apply During Import section of the right panel.