Lightroom Rapid Editing Plus – the Workflow

This is my progress report on the development of Lightroom Rapid Editing Plus, the evolution of Lightroom Rapid Editing.

In my previous post, I revealed the concept of a new editing approach where I found the way to emulate or hack the opacity functionality that does not currently exist in Lightroom

After successfully testing the new “opacity” functionality and being happy with the results, I started testing different workflow approaches to find the most effective way to edit photos in Lightroom using the Rapid Editing Plus approach.

First, for each preset in the Landscape Collection, I created 10 additional versions by generating different opacity versions in 10% increments.

.While this worked well, I realized that the versions where the opacity range was between 10% and 30% were too subtle to see any effects and produced totally useless results.

In order to save room and make the approach even more compact, I deleted the 10%, 20% and 30% versions for all presets.

After further testing the Rapid Editing Plus approach using different photos to find the most streamlined workflow possible, I came up with yet another variation.

All my standard presets have a hard coded exposure value, which means that when you apply any of the presets they set the exposure value to zero. This is based on the idea that, if a photo is underexposed or overexposed, you can modify it using the TOOLKIT adjustments.

With the Rapid Editing Plus system, I took a different approach. Now, all the presets are exposure independent, which means that the presets do not set or override the exposure value, leaving it untouched.

When I develop any preset, my goal is that it will produce the intended effect when the photo is properly exposed. But, we all know from experience that achieving balanced exposure is not always possible. The best example is in landscape photos that feature the open sky. By setting the exposure for the bright areas (sky), we intentionally keep the shadows underexposed. It is also very common that even a mild deviation from the proper exposure produces unpredictable and unintended results.

Now with the Rapid Editing Plus workflow, the behavior of the new exposure allows us to adjust the exposure before starting any preset based editing.

To get started with the new approach, here’s my proposed outline for the Rapid Editing Plus workflow.

Step 1: Exposure Adjustment

Select the image and evaluate the exposure value. If it needs any adjustment, use the TOOLKIT or the Lightroom Basic slider to set the exposure value to achieve the desired result.

Rapid Editing TOOLKIT Exposure Adjustment

Lightroom Basic Panel Exposure Adjustment

Step 2: Style Preset

Open the PLUS preset folder and apply the Natural 100% preset. I always start editing with the Natural preset because its “natural” result gives me a better understanding of the editing potential of the selected photo.

I suggest starting with the 100% version because that is how it was intended to work when the effect was first created.


Step 3: Setting Up Interface

Open the Navigator window above the Presets panel if it is not already open.

Drag the Lightroom left panel boundary all the way to the right, making it as wide as possible. The goal is to have the biggest possible preview in the Navigator panel.


Step 4: Palying With the Opacity

Move the mouse over the Natural preset versions with the various opacity values without clicking on them. By doing this, you can see a real-time preview of the effects in the Navigator window, which will help you identify the editing effect you like the most.


Step 5: Standard Rapid Editing

When you see the version you like the best, click on it to apply the effect on the main image.

In this particular case, I selected Natural 70% version.​

From that point, you can use a combination of TOOLKIT adjustments to fine tune the photo using the standard Lightroom Rapid Editing approach

I applied the following TOOLKIT adjustments:  9. Open Shadow +++, 13 Contrast ++, 17 Clarity ++, 32 Vignetting ++

And here is the Lightroom Rapid Editing Formula: Natural 70% (9, 13, 17, 32)​


by Viktor Elizarov
I am a travel photographer and educator from Montreal, Canada, and a founder of PhotoTraces. I travel around the world and share my experiences here. Feel free to check my Travel Portfolio and download Free Lightroom Presets.