Lightroom Presets

Presets – Soft Dreamy Effect

First off, I wanted to give a great-big-huge thank you to everyone who posted comments on my photo update from last week. I expected a few people to reply and I got over 100 comments. What really struck me though, was not the number of comments but the number of you who actually took the time to really look at the photos and leave very insightful comments. You guys rock!

OK, last week I promised a new preset that dealt with an effect we just couldn’t achieve with Lightroom 1. I remember getting plenty of requests for a soft focus or dreamy styled effect. There was no blurring feature in Lightroom 1 so it just couldn’t be done but with Lightroom 2 we can use a negative clarity setting. I’ve included 2 different versions of varying intensities. For the most part, they leave the major details intact but those will get blurred to a degree as well. However, tomorrow’s post will be a video showing you how to bring back those details using Lightroom 2.
(update… I added an update in the comments section here so make sure you read through the comments. I do this often but I’m going to start making sure I let you guys know when I add something).

Click here to see a sample of the presets.
Click here to download Matt’s Soft Focus Presets
Click here to see a video on how to install presets.



  1. Carole 31 March, 2011 at 13:26 Reply

    These presets were just what I was looking for !! I have been two days playing with the Color Efex Pro 3, but find it too expensive on top of my Lightroom 2. I found a great way to copy the smooth skin with the softening brush (applied 3 times over) but still needed that ‘glow’ . Your presets are perfect on top of my brushed effect. I use the negative clarity for the eyes and mouth and nose and I can honestly say I have produced a photograph exactly the same as Color Efex Pro 3 (side by side photographs cannot tell the difference).

    Thankyou so much !!!!!

    • Carole 31 March, 2011 at 13:30 Reply

      Correction (sorry cannot seem to find ‘edit’ for my letter) – I meant to say I use the ‘plus clarity’ for the eyes and mouth and nose afterwards to bring out the brilliance.


  2. Holly 15 November, 2008 at 15:48 Reply

    Thank you for this preset!! I’ve had it a while now, and I am really starting to use it a lot. It does wonders for newborn baby skin, and creates a timeless feel to portraits. I’m always trying to get super-sharp images, so I never thought I’d like this, but whaddayaknow — it works! Thank you!

  3. Kerri 24 September, 2008 at 18:45 Reply

    Fantastic Presets, thank you so much, I love them all!

    I don’t see the update in the comments, but I do need more coffee this morning, or were you distracted by the negativity? That would be understandable.


  4. Greg 25 August, 2008 at 11:06 Reply

    @Mike (the mean one),

    What’s with the comment? Adobe is unable to release a usable product? Do you mean in general? In that case, 13 versions of Illustrator, 10 of Photoshop, 5 of InDesign and Acrobat, PS Elements, Premiere, After Effects etc etc – just don’t count. Or do you mean Lightroom? In that case (with the exception of the clunky performance of the adjustment brush) you need some specifics to back the comment up. IMO, LR2 goes well beyond simply usable. I have been a photographer for a long time (25 years) and exclusively digital for 12 years and Lightroom is simply an answer to prayer.

    Cool that you have posted about this negative Clarity effect. I just stumbled onto it a few weeks ago and was delighted. I will have to check out the video from second post about controlling it and getting more detail. Thanks for all the good stuff!

  5. Alan 20 August, 2008 at 17:04 Reply

    Thanks Matt, I’ve just upgraded to 2.0 so will look forward to trying these out. Just found your site – I’ll be visiting regularly in future.

  6. fiddlergene 20 August, 2008 at 10:45 Reply

    I enjoy working with your presets, they give me ideas to take them further. I keep coming back to this site, hoping to find that video you promised, but NADA. As my grandmother used to say, ‘NU??’

    As for Mike the meanie, when I give my music workshops I’ve always found the best policy with idiots like that is to ignore them. They’re just starved for attention.

  7. ty fischer 20 August, 2008 at 09:59 Reply

    As always Matt I love the preset. Great for weddings ,seniors and engagements. Thank you for taking the time you do to create these presets and providing the tutorials.

  8. Shannon 20 August, 2008 at 09:50 Reply

    Wow. I’ve been coming to this blog for a long time now and I’ve never read the comments until now… I don’t think I realized there were comments enabled here at all. I simply can’t believe there are people complaining and being rude. The interweb brings out the best in people I guess.

    Matt, your presets are awesome. Keep up the good work. Just ignore the meanie weenies, their comments are pointless. I bet they kick puppies too.

  9. Irene 20 August, 2008 at 07:54 Reply

    Hi Matt,

    What update did you post in the comments? All I saw was your response to Mike and a bit of FREE sarcasm.

    Don’t you think that it was sort of misleading to say you posted an update when really there was nothing new about the tip, just your comment.

    Why not just say you posted a comment/response and those of us who read comments will take note. Those who read the tips, and not the comments won’t be misled.

    Thanks, and this was a great preset to spur creative thinking in uses of Lightroom features. Like using this with the new brush tool to selectively soften areas of an image!

  10. Dilip Barman 19 August, 2008 at 23:09 Reply

    Yippee! I didn’t even get to finding out that clarity can be set to negative values. BTW, I’ve really been enjoying LR 2 – it seems to run smoother than 1 on my 2GB Windows machine. I am soon going to try out your new preset – thanks so much, Matt! –Dilip

    P.S. I am teaching a new LR 2 class – 1 out of 4 weeks down.

  11. Mike 19 August, 2008 at 23:06 Reply

    The meanie guy – Sorry if you took that wrong Matt, not directed at you or the preset, I like it but can’t use it in LR 1.x. Problem is with Adobe and their inability to release a decent usable product.

    I and probably many others refuse to put down hard earned money for a product not yet ready, I appreciate the ‘freebies’ you give us here but am pretty confident you’ll not be hurting with the release of LR2.

  12. David 19 August, 2008 at 21:48 Reply

    Thanks for the presets…like the soft look.
    Hey Matt several questions.
    Could there be a day when just questions are asked? that could be answered by yourself or others on this blog?
    I came across a video with the same problem I was having..about where photoshop puts file back into here is link
    Matt on kelby training you did a video on subject…but it had an option to save as a stacked original file…I do not see that window anymore
    Anyone thanks

  13. Mike Paterson 19 August, 2008 at 19:48 Reply

    I’m a little scared to post anything since my name is Mike, but please assured I am not a meanie.

    Matt, thanks so much for another great preset. You’ve definitely helped my workflow a ton. I think I’ve seen the most benefit in being inspired to create more and more of my own presets. Thanks!

    How about some more pictures from your trip?

  14. Tim Wilder 19 August, 2008 at 18:31 Reply

    Hey Matt !
    I think that Mike was saying that he thought that LR2 should have not been released yet, and that it needs further improvements. Certainly he was not talking about your GREAT presets.
    I signed up for the Photo Walk with you on Saturday, and am eager to meet you as well as fellow photo friends.

    Tim Wilder
    “Web Cowboy”

  15. Klaudia Frizzell 19 August, 2008 at 16:35 Reply

    Thank you for the presets and showing us new items in LR2. LR2 is a GREAT product and thanks. Along those line, would you in the future do a video on the new features “crop overlay” and “graduated filter”. I have no idea how to get started with them. Thanks much for all your time! klaudia

  16. Twino 19 August, 2008 at 16:08 Reply


    Don´t worry about Mike, who isn´t happy even with free presets. Probably you should post an “empty” preset especially for Mike.

    Matts presets work great! My wife suddenly looks a few years younger 😉

    Keep on posting….


  17. mattk 19 August, 2008 at 15:48 Reply

    Dear everyone (except Mike the meanie guy two comments above) – I’m glad you like the presets. I’m continually amazed by how much I can now get done in Lightroom.

    Dear Mike – How about being nice in your comments. I’m sorry the FREE presets that I put each week don’t meet with your standards. In the future, I’ll make sure I stay aware of the FREE content that I provide and check with you each time to make sure the FREE content is suitable for you as well.

    Thanks again everyone (except mean guy Mike),
    Matt Kloskowski

  18. Andy Rea 19 August, 2008 at 14:35 Reply

    Thanks Matt for another cool preset. Looks like it will help us all get a nice look quite quickly without opening PS. Looking forward to trying it later today. Keep the creativity alive!

  19. frank "cooksfriend" severa 19 August, 2008 at 07:17 Reply

    GREAT presets Matt. One thing I like about your presets besides how well they work but they make one think outside the box and get the mind working on what can be done with the program.

    Thanks again.


  20. Phil Thomas 19 August, 2008 at 06:05 Reply

    You bad bad man. I’ve been trying to resist buying LR2 until the first round of patches, but I’m getting killed by your Kelby tutorials and now this effect. So. I’m off to buy it.

    Be sure to let Adobe now what a great sales man you are for them 🙂

  21. symes 19 August, 2008 at 04:24 Reply


    Very cool effects…it was just about two hours ago that I put together a similar preset for my own use. When I downloaded your filters my settings matched with virtually no difference…My next wedding will get some of these treatments…

    Thanks for all your efforts…they have helped with my own workflow and dramatically pushed me to create and intelligently push my own creativity.


  22. Seim Effects 19 August, 2008 at 02:57 Reply

    Very cool Matt. I’ve been pretty excited about what we can do with that negative clarity feature. Yet another thing we can do in LR. Granted, you still can’t do the glows available in PS, but this is still really cool.

    From your sample shots it looks like it’s working pretty well. Gonna download the presets now and see what you came up with… Thanks


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