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Adobe unlocks a Lightroom power tool for photo editing

Lightroom profiles offer new color editing and styling options, and now you can create your own profiles for the photo editing and cataloging software.

Adobe Lightroom profiles let you apply change a photo's mood, color and tone. Now you can create your own profiles.

Adobe Lightroom profiles let you change a photo's mood, color and tone. Now you can create your own profiles.

Screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET

Adobe Lightroom's new profiles feature puts photo editing presets on steroids -- and now you can build your own profiles, too.

Profiles now use technology called a 3D lookup table (LUT) that mathematically transforms colors and tones in precise ways. They've long been used in cinema to give movies a certain mood or look -- the oppressive greenish cast in the Matrix trilogy, for example. Adobe builds several profiles into Lightroom, both baseline profiles intended to be more neutral starting points and more creative profiles that bring more dramatic changes.

Now that Lightroom has profiles, a new cottage industry is springing up with photographers selling them. But on Tuesday, Adobe started offering instructions -- a blog post, instructional video, and detailed developer guide -- on how to create them yourself.

It's not for the faint of heart. But it is a significant new development in the power and flexibility of Lightroom photo editing, and that's a notable development for customers displeased with the pace of progress in recent years as Adobe invested resources into new versions for phones, tablets and personal computers.

The hardest part of creating new profiles is generating the instructions for exactly how to transform attributes like color, tone and saturation. Adobe mostly punted on that subject for now, though Photoshop can create 3D LUT files and software like 3D LUT Creator offers another option.

But even if you're not that dedicated, you can build your own profiles with a search for "free 3d luts .cube" to find the raw materials to dig in.

Also on Tuesday, Adobe updated Lightroom to fix a number of bugs, including some involving profiles and presets. "We heard your feedback and felt that parts of the release didn't uphold the level of quality that we hold ourselves to," said Josh Haftel, an Adobe principal product manager, in the blog post. "We're happy to report that these issues were resolved."

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