All About Lightroom Presets + My Favorites

Lightroom is one of the most popular options for photo editing, and with good reason.  One of those features that allows for lots efficiency and time saving is the use of presets, particularly in the develop module.With the help of presets you can apply the same effects to photos over and over again, and you can apply them to a large number of photos all at once.

 Lightroom comes with a few presets already installed. You can download free presets, purchase professional presets, or create your own as well. One the best things about Lightroom presets is that they are flexible. You can apply a preset and then make adjustments to those settings to suit the needs of your photo. Contrary to what some people think, Lightroom presets are not cheating. They help you adjust the tones and other settings to find the direction you want to take the photo. 80% of the time, you will still have to adjust the settings even after setting the preset.

Now that we’ve talked about presets, I’ve got a whole list of some of my favorite websites for free presets. Some presets I have purchased, and I listed my favorite preset I’ve purchased. 


BeArt offers several free presets, templates, Photoshop actions, and more! This website is better for those on a budget who would like to receive a big bundle for a discounted price.


Shutter Pulse offers free presets, as well Photoshop actions. These are awesome in particular situations, but I don’t use them all that often. If you like your photos to have a vibrant, colorful look, these presets will work great for you.


Sleek Lens offers several free presets, as well as Lightroom brushes, Photoshop overlays, and templates. This is a great website for growing your preset collection, but is more expensive then presets you can buy on other websites.


Rustic Wedding Preset Bundle by Envato Elements ($18). This is my favorite preset pack. I love the warm, rustic look, and the dark green trees. You get 50 presets for $18 (That’s $0.36 per preset). These presets are versatile, and are very professional quality. I highly recommend these to anyone who is looking to shoot weddings and looking for the rustic look.


 I’ll update this list as I try out more presets, but for now, these are the ones I recommend for any beginners/intermediate photographers. Let me know your favorite presets down below!




5 Tips to Improve Your Photography

 1: Shoot in manual mode and with RAW files.

 When I first started photography, I never shot in auto mode. I immediately started in aperture mode, and it was awesome to learn how the camera adjusts to the aperture I chose. After shooting in aperture for a few months, I switched to manual and my life was forever changed.

If you don’t know how aperture, shutter speed, and ISO interact with each other, that is definitely something you will need to know before graduating to manual mode. In manual, you set the ISO, aperture, and shutter speed all by yourself. This is the best way to get the exact settings, and it is the only way I shoot now.

A RAW file is the image as seen by the camera’s sensor. It’s like unprocessed film. Instead of  letting the camera process the image for you and turning it into a JPEG file, the RAW file allows you to have complete control over the editing of your image. RAW files are a definite must for me.


2: Sense of Depth

 When I first started photography, this is one of the concepts I just couldn’t get down. You want to use sense of depth on your scenery photos. To create a sense of depth, you’re going to need a wide angle lens, and some scenery (obviously). Wide angle lenses emphasize linear perspective by allowing the distance between the foreground and the background of the scene to expand, thus emphasizing the appearance of converging lines.

Converging lines are a great way to show distance. Converging lines get smaller the farther away they get, eventually disappearing at the horizon. When shooting to create a sense of depth, position your scenery to create a depth of field and use a smaller aperture.


3: Rule of Thirds

 The rule of thirds says an image should be divided into nine equal squares by two evenly spaced vertical and two equally spaced horizontal lines. Important elements of the photo should be along these lines. This rule is said to make photos more appealing to the human eyes. It’s a great tip to help you position your subjects into the scene. Example:

JATomlinson Photography Rule of Thirds 2


4: Don’t take photos at eye level

 This is a tip I learned from Jessica Whitaker. Photos straight on are almost always an unflattering angle. Jessica says that standing slightly on your tip toes and angling your camera downward slightly onto the subject is more flattering, and I totally agree with her! Jessica takes a lot of fashion photos and angling her camera like this allows for more of the model to be seen as well.


5: Scenery

 It’s hard to find places to shoot sometimes, but be open minded. Old buildings, college campuses, open fields, city streets. You can shoot almost anywhere! You really only need a small chunk of a red brick wall to take some great portrait photos.

Some of the most beautiful photographs I  have seen were taken on the sides of the roads in some flower bushes. Be open to trying weird locations. Your best photos will come when your creativity is flowing!

West Texas Fair and Rodeo Photos

My favorite time of year is Fall. The weather starts to cool (which is a great thing in Texas), Halloween is almost here, and the fair comes into town. I love going to the fair, even if I don’t ride any rides because I’m super cheap, the bright florescent lights make for the best pictures.

I love bright vivid colors and a nice vintage look. Adding red shadows to all my brighter photos and adding a blue shadow to all my cool toned photos rally makes the photos pop. I surprisingly didn’t have to raise my ISO too high, which was a problem with my previous Nikon camera.

I shot with my Nikon D5500 DSLR camera, my Nikon NIKKOR AF-S DX 35mm f/1.8G lens, and my Nikon NIKKOR AF-S DX VR 55-200mm f/4-5.6G lens.

I have an editing tutorial going up on my youtube channel soon!

My Lenses of Choice

There are so many different lenses available for DSLR cameras. It’s quite intimidating to look at all your options.

To get started, it’s important to figure out which lenses are compatible with your camera, as well as what style of shooting is ideal for each one.
Make sure you know the focal length focal, which is represented in millimeters. A single number (ex. 35 mm) indicates a fixed focal length or “prime” lens, while a range (ex. 55-200mm) indicates it is a zoom lens.

I usually shoot with my 35mm lens and my 55-200 zoom lens. Both are Nikkor (Nikon’s) lenses and are very affordable compared to some of the other options on the market.

The Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8g is priced at $199.95. This is my go- to lens because of its low light performance, and beautiful blur for portraits. In my opinion, this is an essential and I prefer it to the 50mm. 

The Nikon AF-S DX VR ZOOM-NIKKOR ED 55-200mm F4-5.6G is priced at $249.95. This lens is essentially the same as the kit lens (Nikon AF-S VR DX NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G). Both the 55-200mm and the kit lens are zoom lenses, just with different ranges. I considered the 55-200 an upgrade to the kit lens, so I sold my kit lens.  

Do your research! Get a lens that works best for the style of photography you are taking (portrait, landscape, sports, wildlife, etc). You have so many choices out there, and you will definitely find some you like.