How to Add an Opacity Slider to Lightroom Develop Presets with The Fader Plug-In


The Fader Lightroom plugin

For me, one of the biggest advantages of Lightroom over Photoshop is the ability to use Develop Presets on your images. Here are some of the benefits:

  • You can create several virtual copies of an image and use different Develop Presets to see how they come out. Doing so uses virtually no extra hard drive space as the changes are stored in the Lightroom Catalog in the form of text commands.
  • Develop Presets fit in neatly with your Lightroom workflow – there’s no need to export your images to Photoshop or other software.
  • It’s easy to see how Develop Presets work. If you download someone else’s Develop Presets it is easy to go to the Develop module and see which settings have been altered. You can tweak them to suit your photo, and (best of all) you get to see how the photographer achieved the effect. It’s a great way to learn how to use Lightroom.

Lightroom comes with some built-in presets, and there are plenty of websites that either give Develop Presets away for free or sell them. One of my favourites are the Signature Collections from OnOne Software. They are free (click the link for details) and give you a range of creative effects you can add to your images.

The only thing with downloaded Develop Presets is that most of them are not subtle. Here’s an example:

The Fader Lightroom plugin

If only there was a way of fading the effect – a kind of opacity slider in Lightroom. Maybe it will come in a future version. But at the moment there isn’t, so we have to find a way around that.

One method is to export two versions of your image, one with the preset applied and the other without. You place one on top of the other in Photoshop and use the Opacity slider to fade the effect. Easy enough – but it does take you out of Lightroom, something that’s good to avoid where possible. Those exported files take up valuable hard drive space. Plus, you may want to do something else to the image afterwards back in Lightroom.

As a smart Lightroom user you probably want to save time as well as hard drive space. That’s where a Lightroom plug-in called The Fader comes in.

The Fader does exactly what its name suggests. Once installed, you can activate it, select the Develop preset you want to apply from the drop down menu, and use an Opacity slider to fade the effect. This clever plug-in calculates the changes the Develop preset made to the image, and fades them all at the same time.

It’s simple, and it works wonderfully well. It isn’t free, but it’s relatively inexpensive at $10 (plus 24% VAT if you live in the European Union). You can download it, and test it out, with Lightroom’s built-in Develop presets at no cost. Paying the registration fee lets you use it with all your Develop presets.

You can download The Fader plug-in from the Capture Monkey website.

Installing The Fader plug-in

1. Go to this page on the Capture Monkey website and download The Fader plug-in. Select a folder to store it in (creating a folder called “Lightroom Plug-ins” in your Documents folder seems logical). Double-click the zipped folder to extract the files.

2. Open Lightroom and go to the Plug-In Manager (File > Plug-in Manager). Click the Add button in the bottom left-hand corner and navigate to the folder where you saved The Fader folder. Open the folder and double-click on the file called TheFader.lrplugin to complete the installation:

The Fader Lightroom plugin

Using The Fader

1. Open the photo you want to process in the Develop module. If you are using Develop Presets like the ones in OnOne Software’s Signature Collection, then you should process your file first in Lightroom and then apply the Develop Preset afterwards. Don’t expect the preset to do all the developing for you, it doesn’t work that way:

Original images before preset

Original images before preset

Then go to File > Plug-in Extras > The Fader and select the Develop Preset you want to apply. In this case I’ve chosen the Cross Process Yellow preset from OnOne Software. The effect is dramatic:

Preset applied

Preset applied

2. Now use the Opacity slider to reduce the intensity of the Develop Preset:

Fader applied

Fader applied at 40%

Here, I set Opacity to 40% for a more subtle effect:

The Fader Lightroom plugin

The Opacity slider has a range of -50 to 150. Values above 100 increase the intensity of the Develop Preset. The effect of minus values varies according to the preset used, but it is unlikely you will ever use them.

3. Finally, you can fine-tune the fade even further by selecting which parameters to apply to your photo. For example, if the Develop Preset you selected applies a Tone Curve to the photo, you can disable that part of the preset by unticking the Tone Curve box. Then you can use the Opacity slider to fade out the rest of the Develop Preset.

The Fader Lightroom plugin

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key-11My latest ebook Mastering Lightroom Book One: The Library Module is a complete guide to using Lightroom’s Library module to import, organize and search your photo files. You’ll learn how to tame your growing photo collection using Collections and Collection Sets, and how to save time so you can spend more time in the Develop module processing your photos.

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Andrew S. Gibson is a writer, photographer, traveler and workshop leader. He's an experienced teacher who enjoys helping people learn about photography and Lightroom. He's written over 25 popular photography ebooks (use the code DPS20 for a 20% discount on your first order). Download his Composition PhotoTips Cards now for free!

  • KhakiMan

    Very cool. Does the plugin work on Windows too, or just Mac version of Lightroom?

  • jarnoh

    Yes, it works for both.

  • Thanks, downloaded to test it.

  • Brenda Suhr

    Does this work in Lightroom 5?

  • An easier and more practical approach would be to develop versions of a preset with different strengths. For instance, like in the landscape here – a saturated, medium saturate and a less saturated version, each of which can be applied very quickly to see which one works best. I should say that I speak from the perspective of a wedding photographer who normally has hundreds of photos to process without much time 🙂

  • Yes it does, it works in both Lightroom 4 and Lightroom 5.

  • Good point, when it comes to making your own presets that’s the way to go. The main benefit of The Fader plug-in is that it works with Develop Presets that you download from third-party sources.

  • Totally agree. I’d love to see adobe include this in future versions of Lightroom. Oh this, and the ability to define custom book print sizes that is. 🙂

  • Mr E.

    Gorgeous model!

  • A(nDroid)Sebrell

    Why is my slider “greyed out” when I select some Folder/Preset options?

  • Have you paid the registration fee? Until you do it only works with the built in Lightroom presets, not any you have downloaded from anywhere else or created yourself.

  • Gyongy

    It’s a very useful plugin, my only question is that how can I use without opening every time from the menu? (I tried but I can’t move to the next image when it’s open)

  • Christian Anderl

    Nice plugin, i was thinking of this feature several times. The only thing i just discovered here while testing the plugin – the preset does not really look the same when i add it with the plugin. I can´t really figure out any reason for this, as it seems the sliders in the develop tool do the same things, but still the photo looks different if i add the preset at 100% with the plugin and if i simply apply it from the preset folder. Any idea why?

  • Hi Christian, which Develop Preset were you using with the plug-in when you noticed this?

  • You can’t, you have to open it from the menu. There’s no way around it that I know of.

  • Christian Anderl

    Hi Andrew,
    It was a VSCO Preset. And yes, i bought the plugin, didn’t use the free trial

  • I just tested out my VSCO presets and I see where the problem lies. When you use a VSCO preset with a supported camera it changes the Profile setting in the Camera Calibration panel. But when you apply the VSCO preset with the Fader plug-in, it doesn’t change the Profile setting. That accounts for the difference between them.

    You can solve the problem by setting the profile yourself first, then using the Fader plug-in.

  • Christian Anderl

    Thanks Andrew. I also checked the develop panel and found this problem last night. Maybe this is worth a little update for the plugin 🙂

  • Tanya

    Having trouble with the fader… downloaded, registered, chosen preset from both drop down menus, it’s no longer locked, but when I move the slider, nothing happens. I’ve tried it with Lightroom preset and Hacking Photography presets. Nothing. Any thoughts?

  • Momen Khaiti

    I follow a a much easier way that doesn’t require any installation. I apply the plugin I want as a brush or gradient filter, then I click on the pin and slide right or left while holding the mouse button down (left fades it down).

  • jane

    how to install it in windows?

  • Thanks to sharing valuable information.

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