Introduction and Look

Welcome to our weekly Ordinary to Extraordinary Raw Edit featuring the Lightroom Presets v5. With each of our Ordinary to Extraordinary Edits, we’re going to first be going through how we create our effects with the SLR Lounge Lightroom Presets v5, then we’ll be going through the details in the develop settings so everyone can understand exactly what the presets are doing. This way, whether you have the presets or not, everyone can benefit from watching this video or reading the article below.

[Note: In the new Lightroom Presets v5, we have revamped all of the presets to improve image tonality and quality, allowing you to achieve even more amazing results. We’ve also added 95 new presets to reach a total of 311 presets in what is the gold standard of Lightroom image processing. In this series we’ll be going over how to use the new v5 presets to create great looking photos. Click Here to learn more or purchase the system.]

In this week’s edit, we have a beautiful bride who designed a nice red dress with a lot of great details and jewelry. We want our portrait to maintain a soft and flattering look for her skin, while being sharp and crisp in regards to the details in her dress. To do this, we’re going to be utilizing our brush presets to pull out key details to make the image pop. Here’s a before and after of what we will be doing in this tutorial.

beforeafter copy


Lightroom Presets v5 Mixology Recipe

For this photo we started with 2 presets, our Base preset (01-10 Base – Soft: 11a Extra Soft – Skin Desat) and a preset to adjust our exposure (03-00 Adjust – Exposure: 07 Brighten +1.0 ). Then we used our brush presets to retouch and enhance her dress, the window, her eyelashes and her lips.

Develop Mixology
01-10 Base – Soft: 11a Extra Soft – Skin Desat
03-00 Adjust – Exposure: 07 Brighten +1.0 (then manually adjusted to +0.70 on the right side panal)

Local Adjustments
14 Clothing | Texture
06 Dodge (whiten) +4 Stops
15 Hair | Lashes
26 Lip Enhancer

To see exactly how the presets and Local Adjustments were applied, please watch the video tutorial below.

Watch the Lightroom Video Tutorial

Complete Written Tutorial

The first thing we want to do is see how this image was shot, so hit “I” to see the EXIF data. This is a habit that I have developed to check camera settings to see if there is anything that I need to watch out for during the post production process. We see that the image was shot on a Canon 5D Mark III with a Canon 100mm f/2.8L Mark II Macro Lens, and that it was shot at 1/200th of a second at f2.8 and at ISO 400. From the camera settings, we don’t have much to worry about. We will have a little bit of grain at ISO 400, but it shouldn’t be noticeable since we are on a 5D3.


Because this is a portrait, we’re going to use our “01-10 Base – Soft: 11a Extra Soft – Skin Desat” preset. You’ll notice that because “skin desat” was applied with our preset, it will also desaturate her red dress slightly, so we’ll be sure to make adjustments to compensate for that later.


We increased the exposure +0.70 because we want an overall brighter image. In addition, when dealing with portraits, generally brighter is more flattering for skin tones. We also want a really white/neutral background, so we adjusted the color temperate accordingly. Her skin tones should be very neutral at this point, making the dress stand out as the focus of the image. Our Highlights and our Whites are the same as in the “Soft Flattering Color Portraits” tutorial, but our Shadows and Blacks are left at 0 because we want a softer look for this portrait with a bit less overall contrast. In addition, we plan on doing some more localized detail enhancing for this photo which will add more contrast and sharpness to the areas needing it.

The Clarity, Vibrance and Saturation sliders are the same as in the “Soft Flattering Color Portrait” tutorial as well. We also have a standard contrast boosting “S” curve, and  because of our “01-10 Base – Soft: 11a Extra Soft – Skin Desat” preset the Red is at -20 and Orange is at -10. This final skin desaturation adjustment in the HSL is pulling a little bit of the red colors out of our subject’s skin tones just to create a slightly more even and flattering look.


In the Details, the preset already did all the work for us, giving us a perfect amount of Sharpening and Noise Reduction. The sharpening over the dress is exactly where we want it as it is doing a great job enhancing the clarity on the intricate details of the dress.


We have our Lens Vignetting at +30 for even edge to edge toning. We’re going to have to make a minor manual adjustment because her hands are slightly underexposed towards the bottom left edge of the image. But, we will take care of that with a Local Area Adjustment.


Now we’re going to do a bit of retouch and detail enhancing.  The first thing we’re going to do is select our brush tool and use our “14 Clothing | Texture” brush preset. Here’s what the settings look like for the brush.


To do this, we’re going to increase our brush size and make global adjustments to the entire dress and person. Then we’re going to use the eraser brush and erase the adjustments we made over her skin. Generally, when using brush presets, I like to make the larger adjustment first, then paint out the minor adjustments to save time. If you press “O” you can see the brush mask overlay indicating areas of effect. While the mask is visible, you can zoom in and hold “Alt” on Windows or “Option” on a Mac to erase where you don’t want the brush to make adjustments.


When you apply brushes, there are “pins” that are left on the image indicating each applied brush effect. You can adjust the strength of your enhancements with that pin. When you click on the pin and drag left it’ll lower the strength of the brush enhancements, and when you click on the pin and drag right it’ll make the brush enhancements more powerful. The great thing about this adjustment, is that Lightroom will adjust the brush settings and strength in relation to each other.


We want our adjustments to be a little more subtle so we lowered the strength a bit, and here’s a shot of the final brush enhancement settings.


We have a nice window in the background that helps compose our frame, but there is a distracting bar in the window. We can remove just the bar, or we can get rid of the window entirely and make this a high key image with a pure white background. Keeping the window totally would work as well for this image as it is a natural framing for our subject, but let’s just demonstrate how to remove it for the sake of this tutorial. To get rid of the window we’re going to go to our adjustment brush and select “06 Dodge (whiten) +4 Stops”. We’re also going to decrease the size of our brush and decrease the flow to paint in our effect quickly.


We’re bringing our brush to the edges of her dress and hands not worrying if we get a little overlap since it is natural to have a little bit of blooming in high key images. Once we have painted around the dress to remove the window frame, we zoomed into her hands to make the same adjustments, this is also a great place to use the “Auto Mask” function in Lightroom. Auto Mask will do a great job of keeping the brush adjustments in the boundaries of her hands. So long as the area being painted has a high amount of contrast, the Auto Mask function works quite well. We’re going to add a bit of the brush adjustments on the edges of her hands to make them not as sharp against the white background and add back that natural blooming effect so that our masked edges aren’t too sharp.


We’re going to add a graduated filter to the bottom left of the image to correct her underexposed hands using our “04 Dodge (Brighten) +05 Stop” preset. We’re going to drag that filter from the bottom of the image to her bracelets, and we want that filter a bit brighter so we’re going to increase the exposure to +0.90.


We’re also going to add another subtle +0.30 exposure graduated filter from the bottom right of the image to brighten up the bottom of the dress.


There’s one last thing we want to enhance with our adjustment brush and that is the details in her eyelashes. We’re going to use our preset brush “15 Hair | Lashes”, and if you don’t have these presets, you can copy the settings here.


For her lips we’re going to use the brush preset “26 Lip Enhancer”. This will give an extra color and pop to her lips.


After the 2 Mixology presets and our 4 local adjustment brush presets we have our final image which you see below.



Conclusion and Learn More

We hope you all enjoyed this tutorial. If you are interested in learning more or purchasing the SLR Lounge Lightroom Presets v5, please click any of the links in this article.

Stay tuned for more SLR Lounge Weekly Edits!