A comprehensive tutorial on how to use Adobe Lightroom Presets in Photoshop, and how to create and use Photoshop Actions and Camera Raw Actions. Plus, streamline your photo editing workflow with this awesome Photoshop Action tip!
I’ve been editing with Adobe Photoshop for the last 10 years. I love how powerful it is when it comes to editing everything from food to travel photography.
In the last two years I’ve been experimenting with Adobe Lightroom as I know many photographers who use it and laud its utility for streamlined photo editing. In addition, many of my favorite photographers have released presets for Lightroom.
Unfortunately I found Lightroom frustrating and annoying when it comes to editing photos. Most of the time I ended up transferring the image to Photoshop to finish the edits.
Thanks to Camera Raw, which is included in Photoshop, I can do all of the things you find in Lightroom but with the extra flexibility and power of Photoshop. Of course, you could argue this is because I’m more familiar with Photoshop. I couldn’t say you are wrong.
Even though I’ve decided to return to Photoshop for photo editing, I still want to use my Adobe Lightroom Presets. The presets I’ve purchased or developed myself that have become an important part of my editing workflow.
Luckily it’s possible to convert Lightroom presets to Photoshop actions and Camera Raw presets in just a few easy steps! You’re going to learn how in this step-by-step tutorial.
You’re also going to see an amazing way to streamline your preset workflow and make it easier to choose the right preset for your image. I’m 90% sure you haven’t seen this anywhere else. I’m hoping that I’m going to blow your mind!
I also made a video if that’s more your thing:
Converting Adobe Lightroom Presets to Camera Raw Presets & Photoshop Actions
Here is how to convert all your Lightroom Presets into Photoshop Actions in just a few easy steps.
Convert Adobe Lightroom Presets to Camera Raw Presets
The first step is opening Lightroom and importing an image, it doesn’t matter which one.
Hit the Develop button. Your imported presets should show up on the left hand side, but if you don’t see them you can find them go to Window–>Panels–>Presets and make sure the Actions tab is checked. Apply the Lightroom preset that you want to transfer to a Photoshop Action to your photo.
I’ve really been loving the Do You Travel presets. I find that they work really well for everything from travel to food. Unfortunately they are not available for Photoshop. Until now that is!
Once you have applied the preset that you want to transfer into Photoshop, right-click on the photo. Select Edit In and choose Open as Smart Object in Photoshop.
That opens the image up in Photoshop. Under the Layers panel, you can see the smart object. It looks like a picture frame. Double click it to open it up in Adobe Camera Raw, which is an extension of Photoshop that is included with it.
All of the adjustments that the preset had are there. Everything is included from basic edits, to sharpening and noise reduction and even the HSL tab. Everything is in there that you can adjust with Lightroom.
That’s why I really love Camera Raw. You can do anything that Lightroom can do, often in an easier way with Camera Raw and Photoshop.
The next step is to save these settings as a new Camera Raw preset. On the right under this Basic Tab, there’s a little box with three lines. Open it and hit Save Settings to save as a new Camera Raw preset.
I usually uncheck the Exposure box because the exposure really varies from photo to photo. I leave all the other boxes checked. Hit Save and name your new preset. You are now the proud owner of a new custom Camera Raw preset that is identical to your Lightroom preset!
How to Use a Lightroom Preset in Photoshop as an Action
Open another random photo in Photoshop. Create a new Action. If you can’t see the Actions box, go up to Window and make sure you have Actions checked.
Create a new Actions folder to put your preset into, or select one that already exists.
Now you’re going to record a new Photoshop action.
Click the little Post It Note icon, label your action and hit the record button. The record button should turn red. Now every keystroke you take within Photoshop will be recorded in that action.
The first step is duplicating the background layer. Drag the background layer on the Post It icon in the bottom right or right-click on the layer and select Duplicate Layer. Then you always have the original photo to go back to. You’re not stuck once you apply the preset.
Make sure the copied layer is selected.
You go to the Filter tab, and select Camera Raw Filter. This opens up the Camera Raw dialogue box again. There are no edits or presets applied yet.
Go to that three little line icon and hit Apply Preset. Find the preset that you created and select it.
The preset is now applied. Hit OK.
The image with the edits applied is opened back up into Photoshop. Stop recording by hitting the little square button. And that’s it! You now have your Lightroom action transferred into Photoshop and saved as an action.
How to Use a Photoshop Action
To use a Photoshop Action, just select it in the Actions tab and hit the play (triangle) button. That’s it!
Adjusting the Opacity of a Lightroom Preset
One of my favorite things about using actions in Photoshop is the ability to adjust their opacity. There isn’t an easy way to do this in Lightroom. You have to adjust each setting individually to figure out what is going to give you the look you want. Often I just want to use the preset as intended but don’t want it to affect the image so much.
Once you’ve applied a Photoshop action, adjust the opacity of the layer you created under the Layers tab. You can see you can slide in between no preset and having it full strength. It helps to find that sweet spot.
Using More Than One Photoshop Action at Once
When you’re using Photoshop actions you can stack actions or use more than one. It’s so helpful!
You can apply two different presets or as many presets as you want to the same photo. The downside is multiple actions will only show up if you adjust the opacity of the layers. An alternative option is flattening the image before you apply a second preset.
Have More Control with Camera Raw Presets
Sometimes just decreasing the opacity of the Photoshop action isn’t enough. Let’s say you really like the preset, but the amount of film grain isn’t what you’re going for. You still want the ability to tweak all the individual parameters like you can in Lightroom. Luckily you can do exactly that with the Camera Raw presets.
How to Use a Camera Raw Preset
Using a Camera Raw Preset on a RAW file:
The first option is to apply the preset when you open a RAW image file in Photoshop. The Camera Raw dialogue box opens up first and you can apply the Camera Raw filter of your choice. Just click the little icon with three lines under the basic adjustments section.
Using a Camera Raw Preset on a JPEG or already open photo:
If you want to use a Camera Raw preset on a JPEG file or a partially edited photo, it’s easy. This allows more more control than just decreasing the opacity of a Photoshop action as I’ve described above. The nice thing is, if you followed the steps above in creating your Photoshop actions, you already have a corresponding Camera Raw preset for each action!
Start by duplicating the background photo layer. Then, select Camera Raw Filter under the Filter tab.
Once in Camera Raw, apply the preset you want to adjust in Camera Raw, but don’t hit OK.
Now you can adjust the individual parameters of the action without just decreasing the opacity. You can manually tweak saturation, noise, shadows, split toning – everything! You retain that individual control that people love about using presets in Lightroom.
Hit OK to apply the preset to your image.
Streamlining your Preset Workflow and Easily Choosing the Right Preset
Ok and now for that final hack. Once you have all your Lightroom presets converted, create one final action that applies all the presets at once.
Create a new action. Name it something like ‘Action Set Apply All’, or whatever you want! Hit the record button and then record yourself applying each action in the set to the same photo.
Select an action, hit play and move on to the next one. Make sure to reselect the layer you want copied (the unedited layer) every time you apply an action. Otherwise it will just duplicate another preset layer, defeating the purpose.
When you’re finished, hit Stop Recording (the square button).
To use the action, just hit play. Depending on how many actions you are applying at once it could take a few seconds to minutes.
You end up with every preset applied full strength, each in their own layer. Just toggle them on and off to see which one works best for your image.
It’s so slick! With the combination this final preset, being able to stack presets, and being able to adjust the opacity of presets, you’ll never need to open Lightroom again.
Let me know if you have any questions in the comments below. I will do my best to answer them!