Yes, I do throw up my hands in despair every time I read some Lightroom user saying he has hundreds of Develop Presets. It’s the same personality type who will trumpet the hundreds of Velvia-effect Photoshop actions he’s collected, who’ll leap for his wallet every time another newly-released plug-in promises black and white conversion just like Ansel Adams, and who worst of all has an unshakeable belief in the accuracy of his digital HP5+ effect despite never having touched the real stuff or seen the warm orange light of a darkroom. These religiously-gullible folk need a firm slap around the jaws with the proverbial wet haddock.

That’s not to say I don’t use any Lightroom Develop Presets (currently 20), Photoshop plug-ins (just NoiseWare), or that I have never touted my own Photoshop actions to mimic albumen or palladium prints (after spending days in the V&A print room, I should add). But you’ve got to use these things sparingly. That’s partly a creative thing, but it’s also because the actual range of HP5+ prints or palladium print tones varies much more widely than the gullible victim of Presetitis will ever see – for all his unconvincing talk of using Presets or actions as a starting point.

Now, that said, you might now expect my fire’s going to turn towards Sean McCormack’s graduated filter Presets for Lightroom 2 – after all, I might ask if we’re talking B+W neutral grads, Lee, or some other filter maker. But while I might question the need for as many as 70 variations, Sean and I seem to have been working on similar lines. After all, a tobacco filter for example can contain a range of slightly-fiddly settings, and Presets let you store and visualize a range of subtly-different results.

But the other big reason for changing my tune – at least in this case – is because of AutoSync, which as you know is the most efficient way to work in Lightroom. Although the Gradient filter is very elegantly implemented, sadly Adobe haven’t let the time-poor snapper use AutoSync to apply the Gradient to multiple images at once. So instead of Shift dragging the same Gradient onto a series of frames needing the same grad effect , such as the elements of a panorama, instead you’re forced to do the Copy and Paste Two Step (the same inefficient process you have to follow in Aperture).

All is not lost however – you can apply a Gradient Preset to multiple images at once (and as an aside, the Gradient’s Reset button works in AutoSync mode too).

My little group of Gradient Presets are similar in concept to Sean’s, though I hadn?t thought of charging for them. That’s an interesting toe in the water and I?m sure he?ll tell me quietly if it makes him rich. I?m not sure if he did the same with his Presets, but I’ve biased mine to a rule of thirds approach to composition.

So, work in AutoSync mode, use it with Gradient Presets, and remember to use them only as a starting point ? my haddock?s within easy reach!