Wonderful Willems Warhol

I am surprised at the willingness of people to buy Lightroom “presets”. There’s people who sell these sets of edit presets for good money—I see them hyped on Facebook daily, and then I see friends “liking” them and “forwarding” them—and there’s a lot of buyers who think they are buying something really valuable.

And they are. But it is value they could have just as easily (and more quickly, and a lot more cheaply) created themselves. They are just settings of the controls.

But all right. If you really have too much money, I will gladly sell you the “Wonderful Willems Warhol” preset. An amazing value at $19.99, it turns this recent “OK” portrait of my friend Rob McNaught…:


Into this Utterly Amazing Andy Warhol-like creative creation:


Wow, eh. But there’s even better news; for you, my good friends, it’s only $4.99 if you order today! Yes, that’s right: I will sell you the Wonderful Willems Warhol Special Art Effect for just $4.99! And you can use it as often as you like: no restrictions, and no license fee! So you are really buying an infinitude of artworks for just a few bucks. Have you ever seen better value?

Oh wait. No, that’s wrong. No.

No, I will not sell it for $4.99. Instead, I’ll sell it to you for $0.00.

For nothing. Naught. McNaught. Yes, really.

Why? Because if I charged you any money for this, I would feel bad. For two reasons. First, these presets are easy to make. Twiddle your settings, and hit the little “+” button on the left, give the new preset a name and you are done. $5 for that is asking too much. And second, by paying some guy $5 for a couple of settings, you are getting that guy to do your creative work for you. A picture created with that preset will be as much mine at it would be yours.

But if you want that one, here you go. Go to Lightroom’s DEVELOP module, and apply the following changes to an image:

[1] In GENERAL, change Exposure, Highlights, Shadows, Clarity and Vibrance as follows:


[2] Change the Tone Curve as follows:


[3] And finally, change Detail settings as follows:


Now on the left, above the Presets section, hit “+” and give it a name, like “Warhol”. You will now see it added to your User Presets:


And you are done!

That preset took a minute to work out, and I did it all myself. Is that worth paying lots of money for? Lightroom’s functionality is worth every penny, but should you pay that much for someone telling you how to set that functionality? If you think the answer is “yes”, then my three-hour Lightroom course has just gone up to $3,000. Personally, I think it’s like selling someone an iTunes preset called “Loud” that turns up the volume.

My advice: work out what changes you want, and then figure out how to achieve them in Lightroom, i.e. “what control do you need to increase or decrease to get the desired effect?”. That way, you have done the work, and you’ve saved some money. And you have gained extra insight into the wonders of editing in Lightroom. And you get to play, and discover new stuff.

Enjoy! (And sorry, Gavin, Coles, and the many others who sell presets. But don’t you think we should teach our students how to edit, rather than sell them ready-made edits?)

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