Going Beyond Lightroom’s Capabilities with LUTs
If you limit yourself to the tools that are available in Lightroom for making your presets, then your presets won't be able to do quite as much as what all the other presets out there can do. And that's because there's a special feature we can use where we start out in Photoshop, and we'd make an adjustment using various adjustment layers in Photoshop, then we can take that adjustment, which is something you usually would not be able to accomplish in Lightroom, and we can save it in a special way, some way that's known as a color lookup table or LUT. Then there's a special process for converting that LUT into something that can be used in Lightroom. And that's something that's called a profile, and a profile can be used as part of a preset. And what that means in the end is any adjustment that you could make in Photoshop using purely adjustment layers can usually be applied in Lightroom with this following technique. Let's see how it works. I'll start with an image her...
e in Lightroom, and I'll go to the photo menu, choose edit in, and let's just send it over to Photoshop. Now over here in Photoshop, let's build an effect using adjustment layers. And you're really not limited in what you can do. I'm just gonna make sure we do something that couldn't be done in Lightroom. Well, one thing I can think of is I could come in here and choose invert. Invert is going to invert all the colors, and the brightness in our picture, and this is what we end up with. But in here areas that used to be bright like a cloud are suddenly dark, and areas that used to be dark, like my wife's yoga pants here are now bright. I wanna get this effect on the colors, but I don't want the reversal of brightness. To do that, all I need to do is change this menu at the top of my layers panel, when that adjustment layer is active, and the choice that I'm gonna use is one called color. That's gonna force this adjustment to only be able to affect the color of what's underneath and not the brightness. Then there's a whole bunch of other techniques we could use, so far we've just used an adjustment layer, and then what's called a blending mode. You could also lower the opacity of it to allow a little bit of the original colors to show through or you can apply fancy features in here. Like I could come down here to the letters FX and choose blending options, and let's just say, I didn't want this change to happen so much to the dark portion of the picture. Well, here, I could say take the underlying layer, which is the original picture, and allow the dark areas to show through. So as I brought that over, I'd be able to see those dark areas breaking through. And then this slider can be split into two halves. If you hold down the option key in a Mac, Alt in Windows and split it, then you could make it so that's not happening quite as much in the dark portion of the image. I don't know why you'd want it in this particular effect, but you can use this feature. I'll click okay. Then let's make some further adjustments. Let's stack another adjustment layer on top of that, I'm gonna use hue and saturation. And I'll grab this little hand tool, and I'm gonna click on my wife's skin tone which is currently blue, and I'm gonna move this slider called hue, which changes the basic color, until it looks a little bit more towards what she might have started with. The only problem is when you use that little hand tool, it will generically isolate things, and it might not isolate a wide enough range. So I'll mess with these little adjustment sliders just to show you that you can get sophisticated, although you don't have to, you can stick with simple effects if you'd like, and then we'll have this blend in a little bit, maybe about like that. Then let's say I wanna do more. Well, I could use another adjustment layer. Maybe I do another hue and saturation, and this time I just grab the hand tool, and I say let's make this color, whatever's in the grass, and I drag to the left and make it less colorful. Anyway, I've made a weird-looking effect, that would be extremely difficult if not impossible to make in Lightroom. I'm not saying it's the most desirable one, but you can make really desirable effects here in Photoshop as long as you use adjustment layers to do it, then I'll show you how to get these two apply in Lightroom. Now, there are a few limitations. You can't use these layer masks that come along with your adjustment layers. They must remain white. Otherwise this won't work. And you need to limit yourself to adjustments that are available as adjustment layers. I can't use something like there's one called shadow highlight, or I can't go to the filter menu, and apply the camera raw filter, because they're not available in this format, known as an adjustment layer. You have to be limited to what's found in this particular menu, but you can stack as many of these adjustments on top of each other as you would like, each one of them can have a different blending mode, each one can have a different opacity, and each one of those could use those blending sliders to limit the brightness range they're affecting. And as long as you limit yourself to that, then let me show you how to get any kind of adjustment into Lightroom. Well, to do so, you need to first know one piece of information. I need to know what color space this image is in. You might have heard of Adobe RGB, SRGB that kind of stuff, I need to know which one this is in. I can find that out in the lower left of the picture. This is not the default though setting, I need to click this little arrow, and there's a choice here called document profile. And only if I have that choice chosen can I glance down there to find out. We're gonna be asked for that information in a few minutes, so I'm just gonna remember this image was an Adobe RGB. All right, now let's see if we can get this to apply in Lightroom. So I'll come up here to the file menu, I'm gonna choose export, and I'll come over here and choose color lookup tables. When this opens up, the top field doesn't matter. It's not gonna show up in the Lightroom, same with the copyright, down here for quality, this determines how accurately it's going to reproduce this adjustment, and for most things, the default setting of 32 is fine. If you brought it higher, it would be more accurate, but the file size of the preset would also go up dramatically. And most of the time you wouldn't be able to tell the difference. Then down here, we need to choose a format, and the only format that Lightroom supports is the one called cube, so that's the only one I need. So in general, I didn't really change anything in here, other than making sure that cube is the format being used. I'll click okay, and then it's gonna ask me where I want to save that. And I'm gonna take this one and I'm gonna end up putting it on my desktop, and I'm just gonna give it a memorable name, so I remember where I saved it and what it's called. (keyboard clicking) I'll hit save, and now we have a file on our desktop that describes this adjustment. But it won't quite work in Lightroom yet. In order to get her to work in Lightroom, we need to do one more step. And that is I'll go up here, and first click on the image layer, because I'm gonna use the camera raw filter, and it wouldn't work properly on these adjustment layers above. So I'll just hide those. Now I'll choose filter and camera raw filter. In here, usually you can make presets, and if you make a preset in camera raw, it also shows up in Lightroom. But to get to presets, you need to go to these icons on the right side. This icon is for presets. Then usually just click this icon to make a preset. But if you do, you get a screen that's much like the one you get in Lightroom when you make a preset, it's just laid out differently. This does not allow us to do what we want. We need to get a hidden feature to appear, and it's gonna completely replace these normal choices, so let's click cancel there, and then I'm gonna hold down the Option key, which is Alt in Windows, and then I'll click that new press reset icon. That's gonna cause it bring up different options. And now up here, I'm gonna name my profile. I'm gonna call this invert colors only, 'cause it's not inverting the brightness, and this tells me what group do I wanna put them in, user profiles is fine, although we could go over here and make a new group, and what I'd probably do if I'm making presets is I'd make a group with my company name in it, so people would know why it's there, and these are gonna end up being called profiles, so I'll just call it Digital Mastery, that's my company name, click okay, and then down here, I wanna make sure all these check boxes are turned off, they'll probably be grayed out, unless you've moved the sliders over on the right side in camera raw before you went in here to make the profile, but just make sure they're all off. Down here for tone map strength, leave it set to normal, then turn off LUT table, and down here is what we wanna use. It says color lookup table. Let's turn that on, and the moment I do it asks me for a file, and I'm gonna choose the one I saved, the ones on my desktop. I'll just hit load. Then it's going to right here ask me what color space that image was in. And that's where I needed to check in that lower left corner of the picture before I went into camera raw. And right here is where I'm gonna choose, I believe it was Adobe RGB. And if I choose wrong here, then the end result's not gonna quite look right. It needs to know how to interpret the colors, and the way it does that is to know the right color space. Now this area up here called table, I believe that automatically got filled in, and this is the same name that was in there when I made or saved that lookup table, and I told you it wasn't gonna show up in Lightroom. So just ignore it. But anyway, it's just being transferred here, but we're not gonna see it in the end. Then down below here where it says amount, this determines what is gonna happen, when an amount slider in Lightroom is presented. Should that amount slider allow you to lessen the effect of this profile or increase the effect of the profile? And if so, by how much? Now with this particular one, since it's inverting the picture like it is, there's no such thing as going beyond inversion, so I could set this to 100 to say, when you bring it up higher, don't go any higher than the normal maximum. And the other stuff you can leave alone. I'm just gonna click okay. So remember my name is called invert colors only, and it's gonna be in a group called digital mastery. So I'll click okay. Now let's see if it worked, and if we can get it to apply to this image. To do so, we'll stay here on camera raw, and I'm just gonna go up here to the top, and click on this upper right icon, which brings me back to the basic adjustments. And up near the top, there's a choice right here called profile. And I'm gonna click this icon, which brings me to the profile browser. And that's where I can look at all the various profiles that have been installed, and right here do you see one set that's called digital mastery? Well, if I open that right there is what we just made. I'm gonna click on it, and now you can see the image has transformed to the same look that we had when we were in Photoshop, and that's great. Now I can click right here on the back button to get back to the normal controls that we'd have here in Adobe camera raw. But what we applied was a profile. That's not a preset. So I wanna use this profile within a preset. Therefore it can show up in the presets list in Lightroom. So remember I applied the profile by being over here in this icon, which brings me to the basic adjustments, and up here, where it says profile, I clicked on that icon, and that's where I got to it. Then here's that amount slider I described where going above 100 is not gonna do anything, because I type the number in that one field I showed you, but in many adjustments you could type in 200 in that field, and it means you could increase this effect even more than the original. It all depends on what kind of adjustment you made in your adjustment layers. All right, let's say this is a preset. Over on the right side, not the bottom most icon, but one above it is where you usually make presets, then this time we don't have to hold down any special keys, I'm just gonna click on that icon, and right now I'm making a preset. It's no different than making a preset in Lightroom, and I'm just gonna call this invert colors only, and right here for a group I'll click, and I think earlier we made a group called LR presets, when we're making our normal presets, so I'll put it in there, and then in here I'm going to go over the right side, and say check none, and then the only thing I'm gonna have it do is apply the profile. And that's all I need there. Now here, I can decide if I want to enable that amount slider and that's fine, that way I could turn it down if I wanna lessen it, and that's what I'm gonna do. So this is the same as the screen that you saw in Lightroom, it's just got a different layout, but it has the same options. So invert colors only is the name of it, and I'll click okay, now what I'm gonna do to this image is just go over here and look in my profiles, or not my profiles, my presets, I'm gonna scroll down to that section where I see LR presets, and I'm just gonna see if I see it in there. And I do it, it's right here, invert colors only. And so it's showing up here in Adobe camera raw. Let's click okay, and I'm not actually gonna save this picture 'cause I wanna still see the original when I get back to Lightroom. So I'll just leave that open, I don't need to save it, I'll go over to Lightroom, and the only problem here in Lightroom is if I'm in my develop module, and I head to the left side of my screen to my presets, sure I can scroll down, and find that section called LR presets, but if I open it and I look in here, I'm missing one, and that's the one we just made. And that's because Lightroom doesn't assume that it's going to get presets added to itself by another program. But it will check to see if things have been added if I simply quit and restart Lightroom. So I'm gonna do that, I'll fast forward, so it's instantaneous, but I'm just gonna quit and restart Lightroom. All right, Lightroom has started back up, and now we are back in our develop module, let's go back here to LR presets, and let's take a look, and right here, I see invert colors only, and if I click there we get that weird effect we made in Photoshop. So that should open up a whole new realm of the type of presets you can produce, because now you're no longer limited to the adjustment sliders you find in Lightroom. Instead you can study up on any Photoshop technique you'd like to use and anything that involves only the adjustment layers, it can use blending modes, it can use what's noticed the blending sliders, it can change the opacity of those layers, you can have as many of those adjustment layers stacked on top of each other as you'd like, and in the end, we can get that same look over here in Photoshop. And so I use that a lot when I want to do anything that I find Lightroom is incapable of, and now you know how to do so, as well.