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Develop Presets are a great tool for creative photographers. But the problem is that many presets are too strong. If you’re a fan of subtle effects, then you might be out of luck. Unless, that is, there’s a way of fading Develop Presets to suit your taste.
Luckily, you now have two tools for fading Develop Presets in Lightroom Classic. The first is the recently introduced Amount slider, which works well with compatible presets.
For photographers who want more functionality (or Lightroom 6 users) there’s the Opal Lightroom Classic plugin. We’ll look at both in this article.
But first, let’s recap some of the benefits of using Develop Presets in your Lightroom Classic workflow.
Four advantages of using Develop Presets in Lightroom Classic
1. You can create several Virtual Copies or Snapshots of an image and use different Develop Presets to see how they come out. Changes are saved in the Lightroom Catalog as text commands, so those extra versions take up very little extra hard drive space. A good example of this is creating color and black and white versions of the same photo.
2. Develop Presets fit in neatly with your Lightroom workflow – there’s no need to export your images to Photoshop or other software.
3. It’s easy to see how Develop Presets work. If you download a Develop Preset made by somebody else you can go straight to the Develop module panels to see which settings have been altered. It’s easy to make an adjustments plus you get to learn how the photographer created the effect. It’s a great way of learning how to use Lightroom.
4. You can create your own Develop Presets to speed up your workflow, or buy Develop Presets created by somebody else. If there’s a particular look, black and white conversion or color treatment you like to apply to your photos then why not make a Develop Preset from it? This makes it easy to apply to other photos and helps you achieve a consistent approach to developing photos in Lightroom Classic.
Where to buy Lightroom Classic Develop Presets
Lightroom Classic already comes with lots of Develop Presets that you can use. The screenshot below shows the available presets at the time of writing.
These presets are a great place to start. You can also buy more from other photographers or find some free ones to download.
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A Develop Preset that needs to be faded
As mentioned earlier one of the problems you might find with Develop Presets you download or buy is that many of them are too strong. They tend to hit you over the head with the intended effect rather than take a more subtle approach.
The CN01 preset that comes with Lightroom Classic is a good example of this. It’s interesting, but the effect is a bit over the top, as you can see by looking at the photos below.
How to fade Develop Presets with the Amount slider
In the 11.4 (June 2022) Lightroom Classic update Adobe added an Amount slider to the Presets panel in the Develop module. It appears above the Presets panel when you click a Develop Preset to apply it to a photo.
The slider has a scale of zero to 200, where 100 is the default setting, zero fades the effect completely, and 200 increases it to the maximum.
For example, I used the amount slider to fade the effect of the CN01 preset to something more subtle. This is the result.
As you can see, you can tone down the effect as much as you want. And don’t forget that this is a starting point rather than an end point – you are free to adjust the sliders and settings in the Develop module as much as you want. It’s your photo!
The Amount slider also appears in the cloud version of Lightroom, Lightroom for mobile and Adobe Camera Raw in Photoshop.
Interesting point: When the Amount slider first appeared it only worked with Develop Presets that had the feature enabled. That meant it worked with Adobe’s presets, but not with presets that you may have made yourself or bought from other photographers. But now, when I tested it for this article, it works with all my presets! So it looks like Adobe made another update that hasn’t been widely publicized.
How to make a Develop Preset that works with the Amount slider
When you make a new Develop Preset, you need to check the Support Amount Slider box at the bottom of the New Develop Preset window (marked below). Otherwise the Amount slider won’t work and will be grayed out.
How to update old Develop Presets to work with the Amount slider
If you have an old Develop Preset that doesn’t work with the Amount slider, you can try this:
- Open a photo in the Develop module and click the preset to apply it to the photo.
- Click the plus icon at the top of the Presets panel and select Create Preset.
- Check the relevant Settings boxes for your preset. A bit of guess work is required, as you don’t know which boxes were checked by the original author of the preset. Take a look at the Develop module settings to see which ones have and haven’t been adjusted by the preset.
- Check the Support Amount Slider box.
- Give the Preset a name, perhaps something like oldpresetname-amount.
- Click the Create button to make a new Develop Preset.
Now you can use the new Develop Preset instead of the old one, to give you access to the Amount slider.
How to fade Develop Presets with the Opal plugin
If you’re looking for another solution (or you’re a Lightroom 6 user and don’t have the Amount slider) then I recommend the Opal plugin for Lightroom 6 and Lightroom Classic, created by photographer Nate Johnson.
The big benefit of the Opal plugin, compared to the Amount slider, is that it fades the effect of the current Develop module settings. So you could apply a preset, make some further adjustments, then use the Opal plugin. Or you could make adjustments in the Develop module without even touching a preset, and fade them with Opal. It’s a more flexible solution to the same problem.
The plugin analyzes all Develop module settings, and fades them all at the same time. That includes complex changes like Tone Curve Adjustments as well as the sliders found in panels like the Basic panel.
How to use the Opal plugin
1. First you need to install Opal. This is straightforward and the instructions are in a PDF document supplied with the plugin.
2. Open the photo you want to develop in the Develop module. The next bit is up to you. You can use Develop Presets, or move the sliders around yourself, or a combination of the two. It works with whatever settings you’ve applied in the Develop module.
3. Press the key you selected to use as the shortcut to activate Opal when you installed it.
Move the slider to adjust the strength of the changes you’ve applied in the Develop module. Ten, the default setting, equals 100% (no change). Nine is 90%, eight is 80% and so on – down to zero in one direction and up to 15 (150%) in the other.
In this example, I moved set the slider to 3, fading the Cross Process 2 preset to 30% of its strength.
Advanced mode and the Opal plugin
4. If you go to the Plugin Manager (File > Plugin Manager) you have the option to enable Advanced Mode.
With Advanced Mode enabled, you have more choices in the Opal slider.
Advanced mode lets you choose which settings you want to adjust.
- If the Tones box is ticked, Opal adjusts the RGB curve, the Parametric curve and the Highlights, Shadows, Whites, Blacks and Contrast sliders in the Basic panel.
- When the Cast box is ticked, Opal adjusts the individual R/G/B curves, Split Toning and Shadow Tint settings.
- If the Color box is ticked, Opal adjusts HSL panel, Saturation, Vividness and the Red/Green/Blue Primaries.
- When the Details box is ticked, Opal adjusts the Grain, Dehaze, Clarity and Vignetting sliders.
As you can see, this gives you a lot of control over the effect of the slider by separating the tone settings from the color and detail settings. It’s a lot more advanced than Lightroom Classic’s built-in Amount slider.