Everyone can be a Pro – part 2

How can you success making better looking photos? Step one to success - Digital cameras and big memory cards Get a big memory card for your camera. In the old days you had to think carefully when to press the button or not. You had to make a choice if the motive in front of you was worthy enough to be put in an album or not. After all you just had 24 or 36 frames per film roll.

This is part 2 of my article called “Everyone can be a Pro”. Read part 1

Step one to success – Digital cameras and big memory cards
Get a big memory card for your camera. In the old days you had to think carefully when to press the button or not. You had to make a choice if the motive in front of you was worthy enough to be put in an album or not. After all you just had 24 or 36 frames per film roll.

With a big memory card (4 GB or bigger) you can get wild and crazy and take 20 photos of the same motive in different angles and with different camera settings. The more you press the shutter button the bigger chance you get home with ONE (or more) great shot in your back pocket. That one is the ONE professional photographers get on the second or third shot, if they are lucky. The biggest difference between you and a professional photographer is the ability they have to “frame” the photo in the mind before they take press the trigger. Don’t think too much about this, you will learn by practice.

Step two to success – Lightroom and presets
Get familiar with Lightroom. I did and I really recommend you to do it as well. Play around with it and don’t be afraid to mess things up. You can always undo your mistakes. I strongly advise you to read my article about “6 good tips how to organize all your digital photos” thou it will be of great value in the future when your bank of images expand.

Key benefits
Some of the key benefits using Lightroom:

  1. You can apply changes and adjustments on your RAW (Wikipedia link) images without destroying the original file. Just export a new version of it with your applied settings.
  2. Import- and backup functions are built-in and easy to use.
  3. You can tag your images with Meta keywords, ratings, colors and flags for easy filtering.
  4. If you like, you can export your favorite images to a flash/html web gallery for easy publishing on your website. This is done inside of Lightroom and you have plenty of layout templates to choose from.
  5. Compare your original file with your modified. Before/after images side by side.
  6. Finally, my favorite one. You can save, import and export your photo adjustments using presets. That mean you can use them on other photos to create the same look of an image!

I will focus on the last point (6), cause presets is the main reason I got a crush on Lightroom. A preset is a file in Lightroom that makes it easy for you to apply an earlier made adjustment, on other photos, just by a click! It’s pretty much like actions in Photoshop or a macro in Excel etc. The best part of the story is that you really don’t even need to know how to make the presets. You just need to know how to import and use them. You see, presets are easy to export from Lightroom and to share with other people. There are many Lightroom users out there who share their presets on web pages and blogs. In fact, some even sell them to make it easy for you to become a pro. I got tired of searching the net for pre-made presets and came up with the idea of making the biggest web resource of free presets for download.

I started www.presetsheaven.com which now has hundreds of free presets for download! Everyone of them has a before/after image.

Live preview
Presets have something called “live preview”. That’s a great feature in Lightroom and it’s a big time-saver to be able to see the effect of a preset before applying it to a photo. When you place your mouse over the presets name, a small preview window above will show you what the effect will look like.

How to import/install presets
If you’ve been to PresetsHeaven or any other site and found a preset you like, you need to follow these steps to import it to lightroom:

  1. Download the file and unzip it (if it’s a compressed file) to your desktop.
  2. Open Lightroom and select “Develop” in the top-right menu.
  3. To the left on the screen you’ll see a section called “Presets” with a grey arrow infront of the name. Open/expand your preset list.
  4. On top of this list there is a preset collection called “Lightroom Presets”. You can’t import presets to this location, therefore you need to make a new folder (if you haven’t allready done that). Right-click (Windows user) in the list and choose “New folder”.
  5. Right-click again but this time on your new folder. Choose “Import…” from the list and browse to your desktop where your downloaded and unzipped file is located.
  6. Select it and import – Done!

If you want to import many presets at the same time with different foldernames, you can right-click any presetfolder in the list, exept the one called “Lightroom Presets”. Then choose “Show in explorer”. This opens up the file location of the specific preset you clicked. As you can see, this folder contains all your presets. While this folder is open you can easily import your presets by drag them into it (or use copy/paste). Remember to restart Lightroom to make the presets available in the presets list.

In Microsoft Vista the URL of the presets location looks like this:
C:\Users\Pierre \AppData\Roaming\Adobe\Lightroom\Develop Presets
(Unless your name also is \Pierre\ it should be something else here)

Remember that a preset effect doesn’t have to look the same on all images when applied. It very much depends on the amount of adjustments that has been used or how dark, light or colorful the targeted image is.

These are just a few images that proof a regular photo can look like a professional photographers work of art, just by using a decent digital camera and presets in Lightroom.

I hope you enjoyed the article and that you really take a closer look at Adobe Lightroom and what presets can do for you and your images. Hopefully this article inspired you who not already have tested Lightroom.


If you are a Lightroom lover like myself you probably going to adore this place. It's the paradise for all people who are looking for Lightroom presets. Make sure you subscribe to my posts to be first with the latest contributions. I wish you a very pleasant stay. Regards, Pierre

Articles: 552


  1. Thanks a lot for your time and your good tips !!!
    I do love the presets as well but the issue I have with them, you don’t know what in there And to know you need to open in the Texedit.
    Same thing if you want to modifie them.

    Not very user frendly

  2. Hi, Chris, I’m not sure If I understand your problem. To edit them you import them into Lightroom and make your adjustments there. When done you can save your adjustments as your own preset.
    Same thing when you just want to “see” them. Import them to Lightroom and try them out. All my posted presets have a before/after image so people will get an idea of what the effect will look like when using it on their own images.

  3. that is the problem when you import a preset you don’t know what does the preset do exactly.
    Let say you import one about bw, you don’t know until you use it and check everything what it does.
    Let say I like a certain calibration profil or an minimum amount of clarity or sharpness, some preset do touch that…
    THe only way to know is to apply the preset and do correction after. When you have quite a bunch of presets it becomes quite difficult to manage.

    Do you have any idea about that ?

  4. Hi Ben and thank you for the comment.
    By reading your comment, I assume you haven’t read part one (and its comments) of this article.

  5. Chris, I understand your dilemma now.:-) My only suggestion at the moment is to make separate presets that only affects the clarity and sharpness. Start from scratch on a photo without preset applied. Make your adjustments on clarity, sharpness etc. Save your preset but just leave the checkboxes on the parts you want the preset to handle. Name your preset to something you understand well; ex. “Mid sharp – Low clarity”, “High sharp – Mid clarity”…
    Now you can use any other preset first and later apply one of your own calibration presets without touching settings from the first preset, except the sharpness, clarity etc.

  6. Thanks for a good article series.

    It would be great if there were links to the actual presets used for the before/after pictures towards the end of the article.


  7. Great job Pierre,
    since I discover LR and your blog I completely forget JPG issue in my camera.
    Now I only use RAW all the time…your tutorials and presets directly pushed my photos and my creativity to another dimension.
    How many I would love to obtain a particular effect but I couldn’t be able to obtain what I would like to obtain.
    Now I can and I exactly know how a determinate photo will be once processed!
    I’ll never stop to thank you Pierre…………..if you’ll decide to spend your holidays in Italy let me know….
    I’ll be glad to offer a dinner!!


  8. Thank you so much Roby!
    I’m so glad you feel I have “opened” your eyes with my blog :-)

    You should have invited me to dinner earlier. I was in Firenze for a weekend in the end of July :-)


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