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Learn Photography

Lightroom > Develop Module >

13 - Panels on the Left Side

Let's look at the panels on the left side of the Develop module.

There are four panels.

Presets Panel


A preset is a stored series of editing instructions.

Open the Presets panel.

There are two sections: Adobe Presets and User Presets.

Adobe Presets

Adobe has included many presets here.

User Presets

You can create your own presets.

They're stored in this section.

Previewing the Effect of a Preset

If it isn't open already, open the Adobe Presets section.

Then, move your cursor up-and-down the presets.

Watch how the effect of each preset is previewed in the Navigator panel.

Try Out a Preset

Do the following.

1) Press Ctrl + ' to create a virtual copy of one of your photographs.

2) Click one of the presets.

Download More Presets

You can download free and low-cost presets for Lightroom.

Do the following.

1) Download the preset or presets.

2) Let's say the preset or presets are in a folder called Sparkle & Fog.

If the preset or presets are not already in a folder:

a) Create a folder with an appropriate name.

b) Drag the presets into the folder.

3) In Lightroom, open Preferences (Windows: Edit > Preferences, Mac: Lightroom > Preferences).

4) Click the Presets tab at the top of the window.

5) Click Show Lightroom Presets Folder.

This command doesn't take you all the way to the folder.

6) Navigate further following this pathway:

Lightroom > Develop Presets

7) Open the Develop Presets folder.

You'll see two folders: Lightroom Presets and User Presets.

8) Go to the Sparkle & Fog folder and copy it.

9) Go to the Develop Presets folder and paste the Sparkle & Fog folder.

Or, instead of copying and pasting, drag the Sparkle & Fog folder into the Develop Presets folder.

10) Close and restart Lightroom.

The Sparkle & Fog presets appear in the Presets panel along with Adobe Presets and User Presets.

Create a Preset


You can create a preset.

Let's say you've spent some time restoring the color on a 1960s photograph.

You can save the editing instructions in a preset.

Then, a year from now, you don't have to:

• Remember what you did.

• Redo all of the editing steps.

All you have to do is click the 1960s Color Fix preset that you created.

Do It

Do the following.

1) Edit a photograph.

2) On the left side of your screen, click the plus icon at the top of the Presets panel.

The New Develop Preset window opens.

3) Enter a name for your preset, such as 1960s Color Fix.

By default, 1960s Color Fix will be saved to the User Presets section of the Presets panel.

4) In the New Develop Preset window:

• Deselect the editing instructions that you don't want included in 1960s Color Fix.

• Select the editing instructions that you want included in 1960s Color Fix.

5) Click Create.

6) To use the preset, close and restart Lightroom.

Snapshots Panel

When you create a snapshot, all of the editing that you've done is stored in that snapshot.

You can:

• Save many versions of a photograph as snapshots.

• You can return to any of these snapshots at any time.


Let's say you're editing a portrait of a pop star called Avarice.

Avarice - Basic

You set the exposure, contrast, and color.

You retouch her face.

Then, you make a snapshot.

You name it Avarice - Basic.

Avarice - Sultry

Rolling Stone calls up and buys the photograph for their cover.

You re-edit the portrait to make the singer more sultry.

You make another snapshot.

You name it Avarice - Sultry.

Avarice - Sweetie Pie

Then, Good Housekeeping buys the photograph.

You open the Snapshots panel and click on the Avarice - Basic snapshot.

You edit the portrait to make the singer look more like the girl-next-door.

You make a third snapshot: Avarice - Sweetie Pie.

Make a Snapshot

Do the following.

1) Click the plus icon in the Snapshots panel.

2) Enter a descriptive name.

Snapshots are arranged alphabetically.

If you want to arrange them in the order that they were created, start the title with a number.

3) Click Create.

Look at a Snapshot

Move your cursor over the snapshot to see it in the Navigator panel.

Snapshots Versus Virtual Copies

Snapshots and virtual copies both store your editing instructions.

The advantage of a virtual copy is:

• Having a preview.

• Being able to easily see it in the Library module.*

• Being able to place it in collections separate from the original.

* In the Library module, you can switch the preview to a snapshot.

Do the following.

1) Right click the preview.

2) Select Develop Settings.

3) Select a snapshot.

History Panel

The History panel records every editing step.

When you open the History panel, the last editing step is on top of the stack.

All of the other editing steps are below.

Each step displays the values applied with the step.

Look at a Step

Move your cursor over the history steps to see them in the Navigator panel.

Clear All

If you click the x at the top of the History panel, all of the steps will be deleted.


Clear All

All of the editing instructions remain, but are no longer accessible.

Before deleting, you may want to create snapshots for any steps that you want to retain.

Four Uses

The History panel has four uses.

The fourth use, Copy History Step Settings to Before, is probably the one you'll use the most.

Use #1 - Notes

The History panel is like having notes taken automatically.

You can see what you did.

Use #2 - Delete Editing Steps

Let's say you come to an editing "fork in the road."

The left fork is realistic editing.

The right fork is surrealistic editing.

You decide to turn right toward Dali-land.

You don't make a virtual copy.

Ten minutes later, you say "Oooops!"

The surrealistic "editing road" turned out to be a dead end.

So, you:

1) Open the History panel.

2) Scroll down to the last step before you started doing surrealistic editing.

3) Close the History panel.

You're back to just before you started down the wrong road.

When you do your next edit, the surrealist editing steps will be deleted.

Too Bad

Unfortunately, you can't:

• Delete a single editing step.

• Move an editing step.

Use #3 - Create a Snapshot

If you right click on a step, you can create a snapshot.

Use #4 -

Copy History Step Settings to Before

If you right click on a step, you can click Copy History Step Settings to Before.


When you click on the Before/After View icon below your photograph, the before image is the original photograph.


Before/After View Icon

Often, you may be more interested in using a later editing step as your before image.

For example, let's say you converted a photograph to black-and-white.

You'll want to compare subsequent edits to the black-and-white version, not to the original color photograph.

Do the following.

1) Open the History panel.

2) Right click on the black-and-white conversion step.

3) Click Copy History Step Settings to Before.

4) Click the Before/After icon.

The before image is now the black-and-white version

Of course, you could create a virtual copy after you do the black-and-white conversion step.

Collections Panel

The Collections panel is the same as the one in the Library module.