Relative adjustments

Do you want to add a little extra brightness or … to multiple already edited photos: “Relative adjustment” is your choice or want to apply a preset stronger of softer: “Percentage adjustment” is your choice or want to apply develop changes only on new virtual copies: “Appy to Virtual copy” is your choice.
The “Relative adjustment” plug-in can do all and even combine these functions.

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What’s in it for me?

A little example will explain the need and the solution.

Say you developed a bunch of photos. Each photo having it’s unique develop adjustments. Now you want to brightens them all a little. Being in the develop module, if you select those photos and move for example the Exposure (or another) slider, all photos get exactly the same Exposure settings. But that’s not what you want. You want to add to the current setting of the photo. Jared Platt discussed the problem in this video.

Ok, in the Library module you can use the Quick Develop settings, but you have no control how much you add, you only have a few develop tools and you can not use presets.

With the Lightroom Relative adjustment plug-in you can apply develop adjustments relative to the current photo settings. So it adds to the photo settings instead of overwriting them.

It doesn’t matter that the selected photos have completely different settings, all settings are applied relatively to the current one.

With this plug-in you can boost the Exposure for example with 0.10 on all selected photos.

See section “Why would I use relative adjustments?” for an explanation of the problems of Lightrooms preset system and how this plug-in solves those problems.

But there is more, you can also apply a preset absolute like Lightroom does. With “Create Virtual copy” setting on, you can create Virtual copy and then apply the develop adjustments. With the factor you can specify how strong/soft you would like the preset have applied.See the Features section below for more info.

See the section “How it works below”.

See the screenshots on the website, because a picture is worth a thousand words.

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Video turorial


  • Apply relative or absolute develop settings
    • Absolute
      Default Lightroom behavior
      All selected photos get the same develop settings of the preset.
      For example if the preset contains Exposure = 0.15; all selected photos will have 0.15, despite their current value.
    • Relative
      All the develop settings will be added/subtracted to the current settings of the photo instead of overwriting them.
  • Percentage adjustment
    By changing the percentage the preset can be applied stronger or softer. All develop settings in the preset are recalculated with a percentage.
  • Create Virtual copy and apply preset in one step (LR 5 only)
    Selecting this option will first create a Virtual Copy and then apply the changes, leaving the original photo untouched.
    Working with master files this feature allows to apply a preset on a series of photos and get the changes in a virtual copy.
  • 2 options for applying relative adjustments:
    • Relative with values
      All the develop settings will be added/subtracted with the number in the preset.
      For example add 0.10 Exposure to the selected photos.
    • Relative with percentage
      interprets the values as a percentages to be added to the current photo setting.
      For example add 10% extra Exposure to the selected photos.
  • Simulation mode
    This option reports how the photos would be affected by the preset, yet does not apply the preset.

Use cases

  • Soft proofing
    Soft proofing lets you temporarily simulate how an image will appear on another device, such as a printer, by using only a computer monitor. Often you have to make adjustments. The good thing is that there is a logic in the adjustments you make with soft proofing. Soft proof a couple of images and you might see a trend. Now you have a head start if you collect these adjustments in a preset and apply it to all images you want to print with this printer / paper combination.
  • White balance adjustments on multiple images
    See this real topic in Lightroom forums. The question was: “Is there a way with LR that I could select the 1000 photos and adjust the white balance temp by -300K and the tint by -5?”.
    Yes, no you can with this Relative adjustement plug-in.
  • Another question on the forum: “How to apply presets RELATIVE to you pictures? (exposure)“.
  • Apply a preset stronger or softer
    Use the plug-in, choose apply the preset “absolute” as Lightroom default does, and experiment with a lower factor.
  • Create Virtual copy and apply preset in one action.
    The plug-in will create a Virtual copy first and then apply the preset.
  • Create a master photo and apply preset for special derivative photos.
    Default when you apply a preset on your master photos, there is a great change that it unwillingly overwrite settings of the master.
    With relative adjustments you can create a master photo and then create and apply presets that take the settings of the master as a start.

How it works

A preset can contain one or a group of settings. For the plug-in it does not matter.

This is the power of the plug-in that you can apply presets relative, absolue and with a factor. Direct or on Virtual copy.

The plug-in works very simple, see screenshots on the website.

  1. Select the preset you want to apply
  2. Select the “Apply mode”: relative or absolute.
  3. Optionally select
    1. With the factor how strong the preset should be applied. 100% is normal
    2. If a virtual copy should be made first

Creating a preset yourself is very ease, see the resource section below. The nice thing about presets is that you can group the desired develop settings in one preset and use them again and again.

You can create a preset in 15 – 30 seconds, see sample Youtube tutorial.

Why use

The main problem with preset is that they do not take in account the current develop settings, but just overwrite them.

As you know every photo is unique. Some come out of the camera a little over exposed, others under exposed. That counts for all settings.

Say we apply a couple settings like the “Lightroom Aged photo” preset. This would mean that the following settings would be applied to all select despite their current setting: Blacks = -15, Clarity = 0, Contrast = 0,Exposure = 0, Highlights = 0, Shadows = 0, Whites = 0, …

If you have adjusted the individual photos for these settings, after the application of the preset, or an individual setting, all the photos have the same value for the setting(s).

Applying the same “Lightroom Aged photo” preset relative would mean that all photos would have a -15 substracted of the Blacks value and for all other settings the photo would be unchanged, because these have the value of zero.