Thursday, 16 October 2008

Lightroom Presets

Looking back to my last post, I see that I was worried about stickiness in the sliders in Lightroom 2.1 Release Candidate. I'm happy now to update this and say that the issue went away: most likely transient conditions on my below-optimum PC. I really must upgrade my RAM!

One of the most common requests we seem to get over on the Flickr Adobe Lightroom group that I co-admin seems to be about develop presets. Second only to requests about Colour Management that is. I suppose when you've been using a piece of software fairly intensively for nearly two years, it's diifcult to remember how complex it can be for someone coming to the package fresh. I was reminded of that vividly yesterday when I was struggling with setting up additional external editors - despite following the instructions on the LR Forum, I just couldn't see what I was supposed to do. It was a real "Kickself" moment when I realised what I was failing to do...

Develop presets, however, are more annoying, because some people are charging significant money for what is really not a lot of work. As with so many things, of course, if it's worth it then it's worth the money, but it does hack me off that people want to go down the paid-for route, rather than trying to understand what the sliders do and work out their own solutions. There are vast quantities of free presets out there at the touch of Google, and they can show - vividly - what happens when you push such-and-such a slider this way or that, giving a sound basis for your own efforts.

When I started out with LR I downloaded loads of presets, but I now hardly use any of them. The exceptions are a set of WOW black and white presets, and, currently Sean McCormack's excellent "Dragan" presets. Both are used as a basis for further work rather than as the finished product. Sean has also produced the only presets I've ever paid for - a handy set of "instant" settings for the new LR2 grad adjustment. Definitely worth the 5 Euro cost for the time and trouble it's saved me! I look on it as the price of the couple of pints I'd have happily bought Sean for saving me all that effort to work thru and systematically make up Grad settings in different hardnesses, levels and divisions.

As for other paid for presets - like the ones I saw today that cost no less than $70 (or $150 for three different sets), for goodness sakes look aorund first and see what's out there, free, before flashing the credit card.

Here's an example of Sean's (free) Dragan presets in action: the image is from a photo trip to Kensal Green Cemetery in London with the Olympus UK E-System User Group in August 2008.

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