Can You Apply Multiple Presets in Lightroom?

I get the question all the time… Can you stack multiple presets in Lightroom?

The answer? You “kinda” can, but it’s not really stacking. See, each preset let’s you record a certain adjustment (Exposure, Highlights, vignetting, etc…) and it’s settings. So if I have my Exposure set to +1.00 when I create a preset, it’ll record that +1.00 as the Exposure setting as long as I check the Exposure checkbox in the Preset dialog (see below).

Lightroom Presets

Once I apply the preset to another photo it’ll set that photo’s Exposure setting to +1.00. No matter what. Period. It doesn’t matter what that previous Exposure was set to, the new Exposure setting will be +1.00.

So Where Does Stacking Come In?
Stacking comes in to play if you don’t check an adjustment to be saved in the Preset when you create it. So let’s stay I have the Exposure set to +1.00 on a photo and maybe some, Vibrance, Clarity, sharpening and vignetting applied to it. Then I create a new Preset and I don’t check the Exposure setting in the new preset dialog (see below).

Lightroom Presets

Now let’s say I go to apply this preset to a photo that has it’s Exposure setting at +2.00. Once I apply it, what will the new Exposure setting be? +2.00, just like it was before because Exposure wasn’t included in the preset. And if I apply another preset created with just Split Toning checked in the Preset dialog, then all of the settings that were on the photo before (+2.00 Exposure, Vibrance, Clarity, Sharpening, Vignetting) will stay exactly the same and Lightroom will just change the Split Toning settings. So, in a way, you are stacking one effect on top of another.

So, while stacking isn’t necessarily part of presets, you could create presets for Vignettes, Sharpening, White Balance, etc… When you create those presets, don’t check any other settings. Then, when you apply them, it’ll only change those specific adjustments on the photo (the ones that are actually part of a preset), and leave all of your other adjustments intact.

Thanks for stopping by!

Author: Matt K

Matt is a full time Education Director for the NAPP and Kelby Training. He's a best-selling author of various books on Photoshop and Photography co-hosts the live weekly photography talk show "The Grid" and is co-host of "Photoshop User TV". In his spare time he practices as a 1st degree black belt in Taekwondo and enjoys spending time with his family in Tampa, FL.

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  1. Mat
    How can you get the GPS locations of pictures taken from the Map section of Lightroom into a slideshow in Lightroom

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    • Hey Dave. Not sure what you mean by getting it into a Slideshow? Do you mean an actual map into the slideshow?

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      • Mat
        I have pictures with GPS data that I can locate in the Map module of Lightroom to show where the pictures were taken. I would like to transfer this map and location data into the Lightroom slideshow module as part of a slideshow with other pictures from the location or trip.

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  2. Hey Matt,

    Great Tip! I think you covered this a long time ago, because I do it all the time, and I wouldn’t have know to do it if you hadn’t written about it! :-) I have presets for each lens and camera profile that I use, and I also have a noise pre-prep preset I use for high ISO photos. So when I have a high ISO photo, I do the camera profile first then do the noise preset next. Works great and saves a lot of time with multiple files. Learned it all from you!


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  3. Could you export the photo as a jpeg, import it again, and then apply the second preset?

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  4. what i don’t like is there isnt a preset opacity slider. come on lr6, introduce one.

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