Lightroom presets come with a mixed bag of acceptance. Some think they are an abomination to a learned skill and craft and should never be used, whereas others enjoy the look and feel they provide to their images. It's not just as black and white as that, and it's down to the individual whether to use them or not, but one thing to make no mistake about is the time it takes to create them.
So, is there indeed a problem with them as the title of the article suggests? Well, no, there is no problem with them at all, except for perhaps the time and understanding it takes to make them. Each preset is created to work within a set of parameters based on color, tone, texture, light, curves, etc. It's an art form in itself creating them and ensuring that they work with said parameters on the range of the images on which they were created. I have a fondness for using them in sequences of images to portray a visual narrative.
One Size Fits All
As you are probably aware, based on these editing parameters, they are not a universal edit, and where they may work great on some images, on others, they look dreadful. Sure, once applied, you can adjust the sliders to suit your image, but it's knowing what you want to adjust to make it work or knowing that whatever you adjust with that certain preset won't work for your image where the skill and understanding is based. Although photographed on the same day with the same conditions minutes apart, this present pushed to 200% just doesn't work. In fact, for me, no presets worked with these images. I am quite happy with the original edits, as I feel they suited the images better. What type of mood and feeling do you want to portray?
Choosing to use or not to use a preset is the individual's prerogative, and knowing how much is too much comes down to personal taste. It can take time to understand and create them. It's a skill that's worth investing time in, as it could expand your knowledge from an editing perspective and increase your skill base overall. Adobe has added a new feature in the latest update, which can simplify the creation process for you, giving you more time to explore the range of possibilities with them.
Adobe's Preset Update
Adobe has addressed the full-on applied approach of the presets and have included an amount slider to adjust the intensity of any preset. Initially, the preset is applied at 100%, and you can adjust accordingly to suit your image, anywhere from 0 to overcooked, but at least it's there. If you like the effect but have no idea where to start to adjust it to suit your image, this one slider will enable you to make subtle adjustments to all the edits engaged. This feature will enable new users of Lightroom to gather a better understanding of how they work and what has been used in the presets creation and perhaps encourage them to create their own.Incidentally, there's also a slider in camera raw to increase or decrease the intensity of the preset. I'm not sure if this has always been there, as when I add presets, it's in Lightroom, but I am aware that when Adobe updates Lightroom, there are usually a few features in camera raw that are updated at the same time.
If you are new to presets and want to dive into the world of creating them for yourself, add one and adjust the slider to your visual preference, then check all the editing panels to see where the adjustments have been made. Reverse-engineering something is also a good way to understand the creation process.
What are your thoughts on using presets? Are you in the abomination camp or are you quite liberal in your attitude towards them? I'd love to know.