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Can You Apply More Than One Preset in Lightroom?

I get this same question all the time, and Matt did a great post about it a while back (I’m posting it here), which answers the question: 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.

Hope you found that helpful (and thanks again, Matt!) 🙂

Don’t miss today’s episode of “The Grid”
My guest is none other than iPhoneographer (and host of Kalebra Kelby herself. She has some really great ideas (including some apps you need to know about), and it all happens LIVE today at 4PM ET. Hope you can join us.

That’s it for today. Here’s wishing you have a better than average Wednesday!





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  5. Cemal Ekin 8 February, 2017 at 22:43 Reply

    One group of adjustments that I have not found a way to keep is in the HSL sliders. If I have some luminance adjustments made and I want to apply a preset that sets the saturation sliders down to zero on all the channels and leaves the luminance values wherever they may be. Probably because they are all grouped under “Color Adjustments?” Is there a way?

  6. Thomas Geist 2 February, 2017 at 09:46 Reply

    This brings up a pet peeve with many presets you can download or buy:
    Checking everything when saving the preset – even parameters that aren’t necessary for or part of the preset.

    Example: most tonality presets do NOT need an exposure setting.

    For development presets it is crucial to only check what’s NEEDED.

  7. Reid J. Thaler 1 February, 2017 at 11:01 Reply

    Thoughtful stacking doesn’t always work. With the gradient tool if I make one preset each to darken the top, bottom, left, and right sides, and apply them sequentially, it will only keep the last preset, the previous presets will be deleted. You could make a preset with two gradients applied, but at that point, it would just be easier to apply manually, especially since it will likely need to be refined anyhow.

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