5 Ways to Customize Lightroom Presets

Lightroom presets are fantastic tools for quickly editing photos. Most of the time, you can beautifully edit a photo with just one click! Sometimes, though, the preset doesn’t apply exactly how you wanted it to, or it looks good on some areas of your photo, but not others. Maybe it’s just a little bit too dark, too strong, or too warm. You may be tempted to just pick a new preset altogether, but minor issues like these do not mean you need to pick a different preset! All your preset needs is a minor adjustment to make it look exactly how you envisioned!

Below are five ways you can tweak your Lightroom presets and make them look even better on your photos!

1. The Basic Panel

The Basic Panel should be your first stop when adjusting Lightroom presets. This is where you can fix issues like exposure and temperature. If the preset made your photo just a little bit too dark, for example, adjust the exposure slider. If the preset made your photo too warm or too cool, adjust the temperature slider. Keep adjusting these sliders until your have achieved the desired effect!

preset adjustment basic panel

2. Tone Curve Panel

The Tone Curve is a powerful Lightroom tool that represents all the tones in your image and can affect the overall brightness and contrast of an image. If the preset you applied added too much or not enough contrast to your photo, you can fix this using the Tone Curve.

To adjust the Tone Curve in your photo, you can either adjust the various sliders (highlights, lights, darks, and shadows) until you have the right contrast, or you can click the “Edit Point Curve” button in the bottom right corner of the Tone Curve panel.

preset adjustment tone curve

This gives you the ability to manipulate the tone curve by clicking and dragging the line. Bringing the line up – towards the top left corner of the graph – will brighten your image, while bringing the line down – towards the bottom right – will darken your image.

3. Split Toning Panel

The Split Toning Panel is generally used to add tones and colour to your image.

The hue slider in the “Highlights” section sets the colour tone you want to add to the highlights, and the saturation slider determines how much of that colour will show in the image. The same sliders are available for adjusting colour tones in the shadows!

preset adjustment split toning

The “Balance” slider adjust the balance between how much the tones in the shadows or the highlights show. If this slider is moved to the right, the colour tones in the highlights will show more than those in the shadows, and if it moved to the left, the colour tones in the shadows will show more than those in the highlights.

This tool is useful for when the colour tones added to the photo are a little more than you want. You can easily use these sliders to make minor adjustments to the colour tones and make sure your photo turns out the way you want!

4. Adjustment Brushes

Adjustment brushes are the easiest way to make adjustments when the effect of the preset looks good almost everywhere, except for a specific spot. For example, if the preset looks great on the background, but makes your subject too dark, or if the preset adds too much coolness to your subject. For changes like these, you can use an adjustment brush to make changes to only your subject, or whichever area needs it!

preset adjustment brush

Simply select the Adjustment Brush tool from the panel on the right side of your screen. Once you have selected the Brush, you will be able to set the temperature, exposure, contrast, etc. that you want to apply. Once you have set these sliders, simply take the brush and brush over the areas of your photo you want to adjust. Click here if you want to learn more about how to use Lightroom Brushes!

5. Radial Filters and Graduated Filters

Some Lightroom presets include Radial Filters and Graduated Filters to add contrast, colour exposure changes, and more. If you aren’t sure if a filter has been applied to your photo, you can find out by clicking the filter tool (found in the dropdown menu under “Tools” in the top bar), or looking for filter pin (small grey dots on the photo that are placed where the filter is applied).

preset adjustment graduated filter

If you find the changes made by the filter and too intense, or not intense enough, simply select the filter (by clicking the grey filter pin on the image) and make changes to it using the filter panel. If the affects of the filter and not being applied to the right areas of your photo, you can also move the filter around your image by clicking and dragging the pin.

Now you know that just because a Lightroom preset doesn’t apply perfect in one click, doesn’t mean it’s a write-off! The preset will do most of the heavy lifting for you and make the major adjustments, so you’ll just need to make a few of these minor adjustments to get your photos looking their best. Now that you have the tools to adjust your Lightroom presets, you can take your photo editing to the next level!