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).
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).
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.
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