Lightroom presets are a great way to work through your images in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. They are adjustments made to an image and then saved for future use.
Some photographers or software manufacturers create these presets and offer them to the world. Some can be very expensive, and others are free. After a quick trip to Google, you will find yourself inundated with thousands of free Lightroom presets.
Some are good, some are ok and the rest are probably not worth using.
The great thing is that these presets are non-destructive. Everything on Lightroom is non-destructive. This means you can always go back to the raw image at a click of a button. The adjustments you add can be taken away easily.
The same stands for presets. They might add pre-made adjustments to your image, but these can all be tweaked for a personal look.
We have created a list of 21 of what we feel are the best free presets, covering most topics of photography. These, of course, can be layered, by using two or more presets, and others can cross over.
For example, if you like the landscape preset, it might even work with your portraiture. You get to decide what works best for your photos.
If you would like some help with Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, then please read our complete guide on Lightroom here.
On installing presets, you might find our article very helpful. You can read that here.
Landscape & Seascape Lightroom Presets
Landscape images can really benefit from presets. Green rolling hills, vegetation of some kind, a mountain in the background or a source of water – your photo most likely has one or more of these elements.
The following presets will help bring out the colour, bring down the highlights and bring detail out of the shadows so that your hills, mountains, rivers, etc., really pop.
This landscape preset has been created by Photonify. They create all sorts of presets for all types of photography.
Here, the preset adds contrast to the mid-tones. The exposure is lightened and detail is pulled out of the shadows. These adjustments deepen the colours to turn your images into something more powerful.
This seascape preset is brought to you by Tim Hill, a photographer based in the UK.
His preset, can really help bring out those colours in your golden hour photographs, especially for seascapes.
The colours are warmer, the shadows have more detail and the whole image benefits from added contrast. A great way to take your seascapes up a level.
Street Lightroom Presets
Street photography presets are a great way to go through hundreds of images in one fell swoop. Since you’re photographing many subjects, from people and architecture to daily life, you need something just as versatile.
Here is a selection of street photography presets to make your images bloom.
Street view was created by Free Presets, a team who create many different presets.
This preset’s task is to bring out the details of the image, especially in the high lit areas such as the sky. The whole image gets a brightness tune-up, and generally a warmer feeling all over.
Busy city was also created by Free Presets, the same team that brought us street view (above).
This preset adds an exposure increase to your image, adds detail to high lit areas such as the clouds. It makes the street photograph pop and become interesting, even if your original photo was a little drab and muddy.
Grungy Urban Portraits was created by F/Stop Spot who offer a multitude of different presets.
This preset is especially good for street photography portraits, to make them really stand out. We recommend using the colour or black and white presets, as they keep the image more realistic.
They also focus more on the contrast and clarity of the image, setting them apart from the background. Be sure to try them out.
Portrait Lightroom Presets
Portraiture, along with fashion and boudoir focuses on the person rather than the setting. Shapes, such as curves and emotions in expressions are what makes them powerful.
Presets can help with the exposure, mood and tone of the image. They can add to the feeling or juxtapose against it. The final outcome is down to you.
Again, we go to Fix the Photo as they provide many presets.
Glamour Yellow or Fashion Chocolate to make your images a little more interesting and different. The Glamour Yellow preset adds warmth to your image, boosts the contrast and pulls details from shadows.
The Fashion Chocolate preset adds vibrancy, a small amount of detail added to the shadows and a general highlight increase.
Use sparingly. There is a tendency to change all your images when you find a good preset.
This soft skin preset is a subtle and not over-the-top adjustment to your portrait image. Vibrancy went up, the saturation came down and the whites were increased just a tad. It enhances the model’s skin and smooths it out a little.
This collection of 18 presets has everything you might need for your boudoir photographic shoots. Black and white presets, ones that make the skin tones darker.
Others add a hint of ‘chocolate’ to the image, bringing out skin tones and contrast.
Black & White Lightroom Presets
Changing a colour image to black and white can take many adjustments to get it exactly how you want it. Many people actually photograph in black and white, as they will convert the colour image later in post-processing.
Many times, the conversion gives you an image that is flat and bland. This means a lot of time and effort trying to pull out the contrast and make the image powerful again.
Let these presets help you get most of the way there, and you can tweak the finer details.
This black and white preset was created and shared by Exposure School.
It is a great preset for converting colour images to black and white. It keeps the sharpness of the image, adds that contrast to make the blacks a little darker and it also makes the highlights pop a little. It’s nicely done and not over the top.
This preset is one of my favourites, as it has a high contrast. Portraits, street photography and landscapes could all benefit from a black and white conversion.
The contrast is what makes them pop. It adds a mysterious tone to the image and drops distracting, small details.
This free preset by photonify is a black and white conversion. It looks great, and it doesn’t change the overall image too much. The highlights and whites shift downwards, whereas the clarity, shadows and blacks are pushed upwards.
Your images could benefit from this preset. It will save you a lot of tinkering.
Baby Lightroom Presets
When it comes to photographs of families, you want something warm, pleasing and filled with happy emotions.
Baby photography is an extenuation of these with an added ‘aww’. This aww factor can be achieved by using a preset, such as the ones below, to bring out those fuzzy-feeling tones.
This preset by Photonify brings down the vibrancy and the clarity. This softens the mid-tone contrast and helps the subject blend more into the setting.
It does add a yellow temperature to the image to make it warmer, the shadows and blacks have also been muted so the whole image is a lot softer.
This is how baby photographs should look all the time.
This set of presets is designed to work together. First, apply the ‘after AUTO TONE base’, which will take down the shadows, highlights and clarity.
The exposure will go up about one 1EV and the whites will also increase. After the base, you are free to play around with the other presets which go on top of the base. Both work together.
There are adjustments to help cool the image, make it warmer or create a darker matte. The choice is yours.
Night & Astrophotography Lightroom Presets
Night and Astro landscapes benefit from presets in a more serious way than those adjusting images of babies and families.
These presets really help de-hazing images caused by light pollution.
Free Presets are back with our first choice for a night photography preset. They increase the exposure while keeping the highlights down.
The details are pulled from shadows, and the contrast is present but not overly used. Great for street scenes with lots of light sources.
This preset has many adjustments. Not just changing the temperature or light action, but also reducing the yellow highlights. As you can see from the sample image, street photographs at night have plenty of yellow light.
The preset takes control of this by really pushing the blue temperature up to compensate for the yellow.
He also sharpens his image while pushing the luminance to de-noise it. Highlights and whites go up, while the shadows and blacks go down so the image doesn’t stay overly dark. We highly recommend this preset for night photography.
These presets are great. They can really bring out the best in your astrophotography. The first preset really adds to clarity and highlights, to make those lights pop.
The exposure also goes up, and detail is pulled from the shadows.
The second preset is more muted and not so strong as it adds a subtle increase to the detail in the shadows.
The third adds warmth in the yellow colour temperature and light in the way of exposure, whites and highlights. This brings the best out of your night sky.
Travel Lightroom Presets
Travel photography is one of those all-encompassing photography themes. Whatever you find on your travels, be it architecture, portraits or landscapes.
You need some presets that are just as versatile.
Here are three that will work well with your nomadic travel images.
Here are four presets to cover all travel bases. Laguna Sunset brings details out of shadows and increases the highlights while adding a warmer tone. It’s a Jungle Out There adds exposure while keeping the contrast low for a warm and light photograph. Great for landscapes.
Into The Woods adds warmth and light to make the forest a warm, welcoming place. Beach Days brings out the best of the light and mutes the distractions in the image.
Help turn those muddy, cold images into something a little more powerful. This preset adds warmth and takes away that blue tinge of coldness. These can bring out the best in your travel photographs in a subtle way while keeping them professional.
Warmth, contrast and highlights are the things this preset has to offer. The adjustments here are upping clarity and vibrance, while keeping saturation low.
This allows a punch of colour but not too much. The clarity is the contrast, but to the mid-tones. Take that, travel photograph!
Film Type Lightroom Presets
With today’s technological advancements, film photography has lost its footing a little. Films have subsequently disappeared, with photographers eager to get their hands on the last few rolls in existence.
Luckily, camera manufacturers have found a way to replicate the moods and tones from these films. From these, they have created presets. Free and at your disposal.
Fuji Velvia was famous for its saturated colours. It becomes no surprise this preset follows suit and pushes the colours for a really powerful image. The contrast is a little deeper, helping to add that punch while separating the photographed objects.
Kodachrome by Kodax was known for its majestic film look. That cinematic look has become very popular within video and photography in recent years.
This holds on to the natural colours while making them slightly colder. Landscapes and architecture photographs will get a kick out of this.
No surprise this is still popular.
This preset was created to emulate the Kodak Ektacolor Pro 160. It’s a subtle difference, in the way it only really adds contrast, while pulling out a little clarity and vibrancy.
Subtle, yet effective.
For more cool Lightroom tips, why not check out our guide on the develop module or correcting lens distortion.