I have to admit that until recently I was not a big fan of presets and plugins for Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop. Having used Lightroom for many years, I had developed a workflow that let me very quickly apply some general corrections and determine whether a photo merits further fine tuning. I will also only resort to Photoshop on rare occasions, like when I need to do some complex cloning job or work with layers and masks.
Over the years, I’ve accumulated a number of develop presets for Lightroom that I almost never use and this is basically for two reasons:
- I have developed a preference for a natural and, at times, subdued look. Many presets push the sliders too much for my tastes and end up producing unnatural, overcooked images.
- I like to start without a preconceived notion of how an image will look like, once it’s been processed. The problem with presets is that they embed the idea of the preset’s author of how an image should look like, not mine.
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That said, I appreciate that some people are overwhelmed by the plethora of regulations that Lightroom allows and would love a tool that gets them quickly to a starting point that can be further refined and that streamlines their workflow. So I accepted with great pleasure my friend Viktor Elizarov’s offer to try and review his Lightroom Rapid Editing System.
One half of the Lightroom Rapid Editing System is a basic toolkit that offers convenient shortcuts to quickly manipulate the sliders of the Basic panel of the Develop module. The nice thing about these presets is that they are all numbered in a way that makes it possible to completely describe a set of adjustment using a formula that can be replicated by anyone else using the same system. I won’t spend more time explaining how this works, because you will find very comprehensive and easy to follow instructions on Viktor’s website.
The other half of the system is a number of style presets that work more like the typical ones you will find in many collections. They confer images a certain look and offer a convenient starting point upon which further regulations can be applied using the presets in the Toolkit described above. At present, there are four volumes of style presets, each one tailored to a specific subject or genre: Landscape, People, Cross-Processed, and Fall Colors.
In order to test the system, I have taken one image of mine and tried applying some of the presets from the Landscapes volume. Each of the images below is captioned with the name of the preset that it is based on and with the formula used to obtain the final result. Refer to Viktor’s explanation to make sense of the numbers.
I believe a package like the Rapid Editing System can be a great aid to people who are new to using the software. Over the course of the years, Lightroom has added more and more features to the Develop module and inexperienced users can easily be confused by all the sliders and buttons and might not know where to start from. With the help of a system like Viktor’s, they can benefit from a simplified workflow while they are learning the ropes.
Travel photographers who are always on the go and short on time will benefit greatly from the Lightroom Rapid Editing System, as it allows them to quickly process an image to share online or to email to their clients while on the road. For sure, it’s a much more flexible, repeatable, and high quality approach than what is afforded by Instagram filters and apps like Snapseed. What clients and the general public are looking for in a photographer is, amongst other qualities, a consistency of style and using the LRE system could be a great aid in that respect.
As I am convinced that the Lightroom Rapid Editing System can be a great starting point for image editing and especially for those who are relatively new to Adobe Lightroom, I have started using it as the basis for the image processing sessions that I do in the course of the workshops I teach.