Things to Know when Buying or Using Photography Presets

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Presets can be a great addition to your photography tools and come with various benefits. They work by applying pre-defined settings and adjustments to your image at the click of a button. This may involve changing the colours, the contrast, clarity and pretty much every other slider and adjustment available within your editing software.

However, as well as the benefits that they can bring, it is worth knowing a bit more about presets so that you can understand that presets aren’t necessarily a one size fits all type solution. Here are some of the good things to know if you’re considering buying presets to help edit your pictures.

Presets help speed up the editing process

To start with presets can definitely help speed up the editing process. This will be even more the case once you find some presets that you really like and have potentially adjusted them for different types of scenes, such as for your night photography, for your people shots, or for beach type images. Once you have found a preset that offers the look that you like then it’s almost a case of loading your photograph, clicking the preset in Lightroom and you should be halfway through your editing process.

Your photographs will likely need further editing

It’s definitely worth noting that you will likely still have to edit your images even after applying presets. We often find that the highlights, shadows and brightness can vary between images and these are some of the main things that may need to be adjusted. If you use a range of lenses then you might need to add lens corrections and adjust the crop too.

The way presets can certainly help is by adjusting the colours to the look that you desire, changing the clarity and sharpness to a setting that works for you, and lots of other tweaks that you would otherwise have to do manually.

Presets help you to achieve a certain look and stay consistent

Presets can be a handy way to keep a consistent look between images. Such as if you like a certain fade or the colours to look a certain way rather than having to try and re-create the same look each time. This goes hand in hand with the speed point above, as you’ll be saving a lot of time in your editing process by using presets.

Presets can be especially helpful if you are posting your photographs on social media – such as Instagram. This is because you will generally have a grid view with your images and you would want all the pictures to work well together. So if you have an image with a totally different colour style then this is obviously not good (unless you are testing to see if it gets a better response from your audience).

Not every preset will work with every picture

With presets you’ll definitely find not every preset will work with every picture. It can really vary on the type of image that you’re working with and the colours, light and condition of the scene. Such as if you’re trying to use a sunset type preset on a cloudy shot then you might apply it and the image could look horrendous. So it’s worth having a few presets for each type of condition but which all align with the style that you’re going for.

You should try each preset to see which one works

If you’re buying some presets then it’s worth giving all the presets a go to see which works best for your pictures, and also trying different images with different presets as well. You may want to slightly adjust the preset as well after you’ve applied it, as sometimes although the preset might not look great when you first apply it, you may find that the settings may just need a few tweaks to make it work well for your picture.

If you do make tweaks and find adjustments that work really well, then you should save the settings as a new preset so that it’s ready to use for other images. Again it may still need further tweaks though so always keep this in mind.


We hope this gives you some insights into presets as well as the benefits and good things to know before purchasing any. It’s worth noting that photography presets certainly aren’t magic and definitely can’t make a poor image look good. So it’s also worth getting some other basics right to ensure your image is well exposed and has the correct white balance (as a minimum).

Head to Lightroom Presets for Landscape and Travel Photography and Best Landscape and Nature Lightroom Presets for some ideas of presets.


Written by

Mike Clegg

Mike is a traveller, photographer, WordPress developer and the creator of TravelAndDestinations.com. He started this website so as to share his experiences and tips with travellers. He is from the UK and has travelled to many places around the world. He loves to shares his pictures and stories through Instagram and this website.

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