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What are Your Truly Useful Development Presets?

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Jul 4, 2008
San Francisco Bay Area
Lightroom Experience
Power User
Lightroom Version
Lightroom Version Number
Operating System
  1. Windows 10
I've always eschewed most development presets, especially the cottage industry selling specific looks or styles, like, "Stewed Tomatoes on the French Riviera" when asked by my Lightroom students since I don't think style presets age well and you don't learn anything by invoking someone else's preset.

Nonetheless, I do see a place for preset, especially when I'm traveling and using an iPad where Auto Tone can only be applied on import via a preset, and on the desktop were AI mask can be put in a preset and not have to be re-computed (hopefully the iPad/iPhone will catch up).

The presets I've created include:

Import with Auto Tone
Darken background (Select Subject, Invert, reduce Highlights and Exposure)
Texture, Clarity, Dehaze (a little of all 3)
Highlight Recovery
Darken Sky (Select Sky, reduce Highlights and Exposure)
Subject Shadows Lighten (Select Subject, increase shadows and contrast)
Underwater (white balance and highlight recovery, and Dehaze)

What presets do you use that are particularly useful?


Yes, I agree for underwater. The last time I shot underwater was 4 years ago with a borrowed Nikon rig. I set the custom WB in-camera on scene in order to have a better live view and better start point in post, but yes, it can be done in LR in post for sure. Absolutely.
IR? I don't know now. LR for sure had problems with that 3 years ago when I started shooting IR with a filter. But last year I recently converted a GFX 50s to IR and the conversion team set a really nice in-camera custom WB when they converted it, so I have a good start point and can tweak WB in post in LR. Maybe LR has fixed that for IR now. Any pro IR shooter will tell you to get the custom WB right in-camera before the first shot because there ain't enough leeway in LR to get it right. You gotta move the slider all the way to the left and it is not a good result.... But that was a while back. I get it right in-camera so I don't know if it can be shot way off and then fully fixed later in LR.
But yes, of course WB can be fully manipulated in LR. But it is nice to have it right in camera, and any portrait pro will tell you they usually set a custom WB and use a gray card for whatever they are doing on that pose. I was shooting with a really great pro portrait shooter a couple of months ago as a volunteer for a condo newsletter (for a friend). We did some head shots and full-body portraits of a bunch of couples and went into their individual condos. I set up the lights (I'm good at that now and have tons of lights for my GFX gear) in their house and the portrait pro (my friend) posed them (I am terrible at posing and hate shooting portraits) and shot it with my GFX 100 and that awesome GF 110 portrait lens (the best portrait lens on the Planet). Haha.... I hate shooting people and I did this only for the greater good and to help a friend. LOL.
Her first shot was to have them hold up a gray card by their face and she fired away at it. I said hey - why are you doing that? I can get it right in post (I was doing the post in LR later). She said no. I don't trust your post. I want to get it right in camera. Don't mess with my skin tones Greg!
True story.
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