My Preset Workflow Using My Signature Presets

by | 4 years ago

Recently I was at the hot air balloon festival in Albuquerque and took so many shots! It was such a great experience. On the first day, I was disappointed by the location I found to shoot, but the next day, I found the perfect place with the Rio Grande in the foreground and some fog. It was a magical combination, and produced one of my most-liked photos of all times on social media.

In this article, I’ll show you how to speed up your workflow using Develop presets to find the right colors and create an overall mood on your photos. I’ve created Lightroom presets that I use all the time, and here’s how I use those presets to retouch multiple photos so I spend less time in Lightroom.

Step One: In this step, I’ve already edited the first shot from the series. I started by applying my Sunset Linear Circle preset, which has the exact white balance that I use for sunset images. It also includes Basic panel corrections, a Radial Filter that warms up the sun, and some basic sharpening. I use this preset all the time as a starting point on my sunset images. After applying the preset, I tweaked the settings for this particular image.

Note: KelbyOne members may download some of my favorite presets that I use all the time at http://kelbyone.com/magazine. To install the downloaded presets into Lightroom, in the Presets panel, Right-click on the set to which you want to add the new presets, and choose Import. Navigate to the downloaded presets, and click the Import button.

Step Two: I really like the retouch on this photo, so I’d like to use these same settings as a starting point on each of the other images in this series. To do that, just press Shift-Command-C (PC: Shift-Ctrl-C) to open the Copy Settings dialog. Make sure all the options are turned on except Crop, and click the Copy button.

Step Three: Now it’s time to move to the next photo in the series of images you want to retouch. Here’s my next image.

Step Four: Simply press Shift-Command-V (PC: Shift-Ctrl-V) to paste the settings onto the new photo.

Step Five: The initial results are okay, because it gives me a good idea of what I can do with this image, but it’s way too saturated and not very natural looking; however, it’s still a great starting point!

The first thing we need to modify when pasting settings are any local adjustment filters because they’ll be off most of the time. In this example, we’ll start with the Radial Filter. Press Shift-M to activate the Radial Filter, and click on the pin that you want to modify to make it active. Reposition and resize the filter, and then tweak the settings as needed. In this example, I moved the Radial Filter and lowered the Saturation a bit.

A good thing to keep in mind when using the Radial Filter is that a partially lit object is more interesting than a fully lit object. Having the Radial Filter just over the sun makes the photo more interesting.

Step Six: The next thing we’ll check is the position of any Graduated Filters because, just like a Radial Filter, they’ll be off most of the time. Press M to activate the Graduated Filter, activate the filter pin you want to alter, and move the adjustment around to tailor it for your photo.

Step Seven: On this photo I really wanted the blue sky to come out, so I moved the Temp slider over to the left a little in the Graduated Filter panel. But the problem is that it’s affecting the mountains, making them too dark. To fix that, click on Brush at the top left of the Gradient Filter panel, and then click on Erase in the Brush settings that appear at the bottom of the panel. Make sure that Auto Mask is turned on to avoid making halos, and set the Flow slider to around 50. Now your brush will erase the effect in any areas where you don’t want it. In this case, I brushed over the mountain to remove the blue, making sure that the minus sign in the brush cursor remained over the mountains as I painted.

Step Eight: So now that the top Graduated Filter is only affecting the sky, and not the mountains anymore, I can edit the bottom Graduated Filter. Here, I simply moved it a bit lower so it doesn’t darken the water as much.

Step Nine: Now let’s make the Rio Grande stand out a bit more using the Adjustment Brush (K). I set the Flow and Density to around 70, this time making sure Auto Mask is off! Auto Mask is great when you want to retouch something specific and nothing else; otherwise it can make weird effects.

Step 10: Personally, I love very saturated photos, and they work pretty well on social media, so I always go crazy on the saturation, but you can do what fits your mood. For this photo, I set the Saturation to +12 and the Vibrance to +33, and painted the river. Obviously, you don’t want to go crazy with saturation; there’s a limit. You don’t want every color to be saturated. In this image, it’s mainly the sun with a bit of magenta, but if you want to really go crazy, you can go into the HSL panel, click on the Saturation tab, and try out different colors.

Step 11: The preset I used on these images applied more than 25 settings in one click, so it truly does a lot for me. All I have to do is tailor the results for each photo for my final creations.

The great thing is that it didn’t take me much time to retouch the next photo in this series. In just a few clicks, I retouched all my photos from that day, so it really is a great timesaver! I hope you’ll use this trick, and that you can now retouch your photos faster than the speed of light.