You can’t help but take notice of all these beautiful images that surround you – so many with ethereal effects like a charming bokeh, perfectly placed lens flare, or stunning clarity in all the right places. You also can’t help but wonder how these images were created as you are all too aware that they don’t often occur that perfect organically.
It’s entirely likely that the images you see were enhanced during post-processing with the use of presets. Using Lightroom software to edit is what most photographers go to during their process. Creating a theme within your photo story, or a certain feel to your images that speaks to that style image can be done quickly and easily with a preset.
What is a preset?
Imagine you are trying to tell a certain story with your images, one that is better told with high contrast levels or a hazy glow. Achieving this look on one photo takes a great deal of time and creative energy and usually lots of different steps. A preset solves the time-consuming part in spades.
The steps that you take to create just the right feel for your image can be wrapped up tight in a nice little bundle, have a name attached to it, and be used time and time again on a whole host of images.
What advantages are there to using presets in my editing?
The benefits of utilizing presets during your editing process are numerous and powerful. If you like saving time, getting creative, and telling a story, then presets are a must-have in your process.
- Time is money – When you get into photography and make it your life’s work, it’s the photography itself that drew you – the editing process is mostly a necessary evil. When you are getting paid for the work you do, it’s typically a flat fee for your work at the shoot and your post-processing time. This means that you want to devote as little time editing to maximize your availability to do what you love – take more pictures.
- Presets enable you to save time by clicking one button to accomplish many different steps and adjustments. Creating the preset can be time-consuming, but once created, utilizing it takes no time at all!
- Storytelling value – When you have finished a shoot, you usually have a general idea of the story you want to tell or the story your subjects are telling. At a minimum, you usually have some themes floating around in your imagination that may take more clear form once you have begun your editing process.
- Presets can help your story come to life. You can have multiple presets already set up to give your story just the right tone – presets that are edgier, raw, presets that are softer, more romantic.
- Variety is the spice of life – Please understand, it is never recommended to have one preset that you use for every single image you take from now to the end of eternity. Not every story told has the same flavor, nor should every image have the same editing process.
- Your images are each unique – from other photographers’ images and each other. Different exposures, contrasts, and lighting yield different results. Having an entire collection of presets that range from super subtle to daring and bold can help you keep each image unique. As options for preset values are so varied, you can use presets with wild abandon and never tire of the variety.
How much do presets cost?
As we’ve reminded you, time is money. Creating presets that can be used over and over for a wide variety of images, to give a set of images a very particular flavor, or to make basic edits easy and accessible takes quite a chunk of time.
There are plenty of options out there of vendors who put together great preset packages and sell them for relatively inexpensive prices and can be wise investments.
However, there are also plenty of photographers out there who have perfected the creation of presets who offer several packages free of charge.
Wait, I can Lightroom presets for free?
There are a couple of different avenues to get these valuable timesavers for free. Free Lightroom presets are still high quality and can help make your process so much more smooth and easy.
Looking at the source will be your first stop in getting free presets. Lightroom offers some simple presets on its own. While Lightroom’s offerings aren’t very many, what they offer is great quality and designed for Lightroom itself.
Lightroom’s presets are based mainly around simpler edits, like color and black and white options. While there aren’t many, there are also some creative presets available in Lightroom that is fun to play with.
Another option is to create your own. Daunting, yes. Time-consuming, sure. But, should you have specific themes you use frequently in your work, this may be an option for you to explore.
You know your vision, you know what you’re preferences and your niche is. Creating presets that showcase your skill is a great way to showcase your skills both behind the camera and behind the edit. With a little bit of research, you are sure to find some great tutorials on creating presets.
As long as you are careful with your research and the sources you find, there are tons of options available online for free Lightroom presets. Start with looking at Adobe verified sources that offer free presets – if Adobe sponsors them, the presets are probably a safe download.
Free Lightroom presets can be found through creative board sites like Pinterest as well. Pinterest is a great collaborative outlet to find useful editing tools and ideas.
When you are doing your research into available free lightroom presets, make sure you are getting them through secured sites to minimize the risk of potential harmful downloads.
Many vendors offer a few free presets, but many more for purchase. If you find presets through vendors that you thoroughly enjoy using, consider purchasing some premium ones from those vendors as well.