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LR preset newbie: Appy to SOOC or after my initial corrections?

Discussion in 'Image Processing' started by dancebert, Dec 7, 2014.

  1. dancebert

    dancebert Mu-43 Veteran

    259
    Jan 18, 2014
    Hua Hin, Thailand
    TL;DR version is the subject line and the last paragraph.

    I'm 10 weeks into using Lightroom after years using GIMP and Darktable. I'm switching to LR. Between being retired and it was the worst part of the rainy season, I've spent a lot of time with LR. Until a few days ago I avoided presets because I wanted to learn LR.

    I've recently started using SLR Lounge v5 preset package. I expect using presets will give 3 results. First is a deeper understanding of LR, color, light and shadow by understanding the adjustments change the image. Next is producing results not yet attainable with my LR knowledge. Finally is spending less time per image.

    FWIW I prefer post processing that enhances the image elements which draw attention and guide the eye, and playing down other elements, both while keeping colors and contrast such that one's initial reaction to the image is the image, not the post processing. OTOH, I occasionally like to reduce an image to it's strongest elements, creating something many call abstract but what I like to think of as stark minimalism.

    Before presets, I'd open an image, close my eyes to remember what I'd seen in my mind's eye at at time of shutter click, then make basic adjustments so whites and tint are accurate and to recover detail. Then I'd use that as the starting points for subsequent attempts to match the mind's eye version. All the instructional videos either stated, implied or I inferred the starting image was a SOOC raw file. I tried both ways.

    For non-stark minimalist images, I found first making basic adjustments produced more keepers than starting with SOOC. Given my experience with post processing, LR, presets and my usual desired outcome, does it make sense to apply presets after my initial adjustments?
     
  2. ryan6f7

    ryan6f7 New to Mu-43

    9
    Aug 16, 2014
    Cottage Grove Oregon
    Ryan Kimball
    I frequently use them before and after. Sometimes if i am looking for a different direction to go with an image i will scroll through presets to see if something grabs me as a starting point. I'll also take an image that I've processed and am happy with and run it through some presets just to see some other options. As long as the end result pleases you I don't think you can go wrong either way.
     
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  3. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    personal opinion is that while perhaps presets offer a quick way to see what is possible with an image, but they shouldn't be used as a crutch, better to learn what the preset is doing and use that to learn how to manipulate the sliders yourself as no preset is a one size fits all solution

    I use Aperture, but never use presets. The fundamental controls in any image processing app are the same... There is no magic, its adjusting the values of pixels in a variety of ways. The sliders may have different names, and the underlying algorithms may have slight variations in their range and scope, but they all do the same thing.

    K
     
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  4. I always apply a camera-specific preset first and then make further image-specific adjustments manually.
     
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  5. dancebert

    dancebert Mu-43 Veteran

    259
    Jan 18, 2014
    Hua Hin, Thailand
    Useful responses, thanks. Upon rereading my post, I'm not sure my question was as clear as it could be. Here is the last sentence with an addition in bold:

    > Given my experience with post processing, LR, presets and my usual desired outcome, does it make sense to apply presets after my initial adjustments or apply them to the SOOC image?
     
  6. David A

    David A Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 30, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    I think a lot depends on what the preset does. Some presets attempt to do everything at once so they make a lot of adjustments in one hit. Others only change one or two things, such as a preset that just applies a certain amount of sharpening and noise reduction and alters nothing else. Some people make presets that simply alter one adjustment which may not sound all that useful but if you find yourself always applying the same amount of something such as clarity or vibrance or saturation, just being able to click on a preset to apply that amount of that adjustment is quicker and easier than moving a slider or selecting the amount box and typing in the new amount.

    The standard recommendation in Lightroom, assuming you aren't using presets, is to go through the various panels in the order in which they occur from top to bottom, and work your way down the adjustments in each panel from top to bottom. That's the way I tend to work but I rarely apply presets which change a lot of things at once. If I had something that was intended as a "global preset". then I'd probably apply that first and then work my way down the various panels from top to bottom adjusting anything I thought needed further fine tuning. If I were applying a preset that only adjusted one panel's sliders I'd apply it at the stage I got to that panel as I worked my way down the panels from top to bottom.

    When it comes to the basics of exposure/contrast/highlights/shadows/whites/blacks and the tone curve adjustments there's a reason for that. The exposure/highlights/shadows/whites/blacks adjustments in the Basic panel are image sensitive and don't operate in a linear manner. They work to protect highlights and shadows as you make adjustments that would result in clipping highlights or crushing shadows so as you increase exposure or highlights, for example, the amount of boost that is applied is less in the brighter parts of the image than in the darker parts and the amount the scale of the adjustment is reduced increases as the brighter parts of the image get closer to clipping. The opposite happens in the dark tones as you reduce exposure or shadows. The tone curve adjustments don't work in that way, they work as you would expect, but Lightroom applies them to the image after it applies the Basic panel adjustments so the recommendation is to apply the Basic panel adjustments first, then do the Tone Curve adjustment and I find it works best that way for me. So if you had a Tone Curve preset which adjusted the curve settings only, I would not apply it before applying any adjustments I wanted to make in the Basic panel.

    So my answer to your question about when in the processing cycle to apply a preset is that it depends on what the preset adjusts, and how many things it adjusts. You need to find out what the presets you are using do and then choose when to apply them bearing their actions in mind.

    You also need to consider one other thing if you are applying 2 or more presets to the same image. If you apply more than 1 preset and both presets include an adjustment to the same control, the final setting on that control is going to be the setting in the preset applied last. So, if you have apply a preset that increases exposure and reduces contrast as part of a correction for an underexposed image and you subsequently apply a preset that boosts contrast and does a few other things to adjustments elsewhere than the Basic panel, the result after the second preset will be an image with the increased exposure of the first preset and the increased contrast of the second preset. That may not be the kind of result you want, but you may find that if you apply the presets in the opposite order the result is closer to what you want. That's one reason why many people prefer presets that only work within one panel and don't adjust anything in another panel—the more things a preset adjusts, the more likely it is that you're going to find unexpected results if you apply further presets and if both presets adjust a lot of things it can be hard to work out which things you need to adjust to get the result you want. It can be better in terms of both image results and overall processing time to apply 5 presets that each affect only one thing than it is to apply 2 presets that together adjust the same 5 things but which each adjust 4 of those things so that the result after the second preset is that there are 2 parameters that have been adjusted by one preset only, one by the first and the other by the second, but the other 3 parameters have been adjusted by both presets. Get the order of application of the 2 presets right and you may get a reasonable result and save some time, get the order of application wrong and you may get a result you don't like and then waste a fair amount of time working out which adjustments went wrong and what you need to do to fix them.
     
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  7. TassieFig

    TassieFig Mu-43 Top Veteran

    533
    Oct 28, 2013
    Tasmania, Australia
    A preset will give you a starting point so imo it makes no sense to apply them after other adjustments.

    Saying that though, it does depend on what kind of presets they are. I have a handful of presets I apply to all images in Quick Develop including Basic adjustments, Sharpening, Noise Reduction, Remove CA etc as a starting point. Some of these can really be applied at any stage (eg CA, sharpening) but if you have a preset that changes the character of the image, I'd definitely apply it at the beginning of the PP
     
  8. dancebert

    dancebert Mu-43 Veteran

    259
    Jan 18, 2014
    Hua Hin, Thailand
    Ah .. I haven't tried 'global presets' yet, and will give your advice a try when I do. The presets in my set are intended for use in a three step 'base - curves - adjust' sequence.

    Yes, which is why I examine the before and after slider values as well as the image effect when assessing a preset. Otherwise, I can see one lurching from point to point haphazardly.

    The bad news is the more I learn about presets is the more I need to learn. The good news is I enjoy such challenges.

    Thanks for you in-depth reply.
     
  9. dancebert

    dancebert Mu-43 Veteran

    259
    Jan 18, 2014
    Hua Hin, Thailand
    Just to be clear, is you last sentence a generalization? I have difficulty (perhaps based on limited experience with presets) imaging how useful such a preset would be when applied over a SOOC camera image with a pronounced tint, correctable CA or blown out but recoverable highlights, unless the intent of the such a preset was to emphasize those characteristics.
     
  10. TassieFig

    TassieFig Mu-43 Top Veteran

    533
    Oct 28, 2013
    Tasmania, Australia
    I think you overthink the whole thing. I apply all my presets that I want to use to all the images I'm about to work with before I even go into Develop mode. As a starting point. Then I adjust whatever is needed in the Develop mode on each image. If you have a batch with strong tint etc, make a preset for it and apply to the whole batch with one click. If there's only one image with strong tint, apply your normal presets and then fix the tint. Try some presets and then ask again later :wink:

    I personally would recommend having presets for specific adjustments, eg only for sharpening etc. You can have a couple of presets for sharpening with different values for sharpening eg one for landscape (more sharpening) and one for portraits (less sharpening) and so on.