How to Use Adobe Creative Profiles in Lightroom

When Adobe introduced the concept of Creative RAW Profiles in Lightroom, it profoundly impacted many photographers’ workflows by making them more flexible and more dynamic.

If you are not sure what Creative RAW Profiles are, please take a look at my in-depth article “Demystifying Lightroom Profiles—In-Depth Guide” where I outline the logic behind the concept.

What I have found is that not all photographers fully understand how the Creative Profiles can be incorporated into their digital photography editing routine.

Today, I will demonstrate how you can use the Creative Profiles when editing landscape photographs.


For the Creative Profile demonstration, I used a photo I took in one of Montreal’s local parks.

It is a typical landscape capture with a strong contrast between the dark shadows in the foreground and the very bright sky. Plus, it has plenty of vegetation and some water.

For the sake of the demonstration, we will use three different editing approaches:

  • Freestyle Editing,
  • Profile Editing
  • Preset Based Editing

Demo Image

If you wish to follow the demonstration step by step, you need to download the demo image in RAW format by clicking the button below.

Import the demo image to Lightroom.

Next, go to the Develop Module and check the Snapshots Panel on the left side, just below the Presets Panel.

Inside the Snapshots Panel, you can find all the editing steps recorded as the snapshots. You can follow the demonstration by clicking through the Snapshots.

Freestyle Editing

For Freestyle Editing, we will use the 5-second technique that I originally outlined in the following tutorial: 5 Second Lightroom Editing for Landscapes

The goals of Freestyle Editing are:

  • First, to reduce the dynamic range of the image by recovering the highlights (making the sky darker) and opening up the shadows (making the dark areas brighter).
  • Second, to make sure the photo uses a full tonal range.

We will achieve both goals by using four sliders of the Basic Panel in the Development Module.

Step 1

Drag the Highlight Slider all the way to the left until it reaches a value of -100.

Next, move the Shadows Slider all the way to the right until it reaches a value of 100.

Our first goal is achieved. We reduced the dynamic range of the photo.

Step 2

Hold down the Alt (Option) keyboard key and double click the Whites Slider.

Lightroom sets the maximum value for the Whites without clipping them.

Next, hold down the Alt (Option) key and double click on the Shadows Slider. Lightroom sets the maximum value for the Blacks without clipping them.

In this second step, we set the White and Black Points to ensure the photo uses the full dynamic range from black to white.

Creative Profile Editing

You can access the Profile Browser directly from inside the Basic Panel by clicking on the profile icon.

Accessing the Profile Browser

Inside the Profile Browser, locate and open the PhotoTracesFree Profiles collection.

Next, click on the 0.1 Landscape 1 profile to apply it to the image.

Now you have the option to reduce or increase the editing effect of the profile by dragging the Amount Slider either to the left or to the right.

I feel that the effect of the profile is too strong and that we need to reduce it by 10%. Move the Amount Slider to the left until it reaches the 90% point.

You can close the Profile Browser.

Preset Based Editing

Even though I like the editing effect we achieved so far, I believe that the image is a bit too dark and needs some minor finetuning.

Open the Presets Panel on the left side of the Develop Module and locate the TOOLKIT Adjustment Preset Collection. The TOOLKIT is part of the Free Travel Collection.

Step 1

Boost the exposure by 1/3 stop by applying the 01 Exposure + adjustment preset.

Step 2

To make the dark areas brighter, apply the 09 Open Shadows +++ adjustment preset.

Step 3

Finally, let’s apply the 32 Vignetting + preset to introduce a mild and soft vignette.

We are done.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, by introducing Creative RAW Profiles into our editing workflow, we have more creative options and greater flexibility when editing photos in Lightroom. It also allows us to mix and match different editing approaches such as Freestyle Editing, Preset Based Editing, and Profile Editing. You do not have to use all of these editing approaches with every image you process, but it is always nice to have a variety of options available.

How to Install Profiles in Lightroom Classic CC

To take advantage of Profiles in Lightroom Classic, you must have version 7.3 or later.

1 In Lightroom, go to the Development Module.

2. On the right side, open the Basic Menu editing panel.

3. Click the Profiles icon in the top right corner of the Basic Menu to access the Profile Browserpanel.

4. Click the + icon on the left side of the Profile Browser panel and select the Import Profiles…option.

5. Navigate to the zipped archive that contains the Profile files and click the Import button.

You are done. Lightroom locates the profiles in the .XMP format, installs them, and ignores the rest of the files.

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