Weekly Ordinary To Extraordinary Lightroom Edit

In this tutorial we’ll be showing you how to enhance those photos taken in dynamically lit reception and event spaces. At reception venues you’ll run into difficult lighting scenarios, from up-lighting on walls, gobos projected onto the dance floor, and spotlights highlighting the cake or centerpieces. The room is usually dark while these key elements are bright, and it can be difficult to dial in the perfect exposure. Watch the video or read the article below to see how we edit these difficultly lit photos.


[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.]

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 how we get to a specific look. This way, whether you have the presets or not, everyone can benefit from watching this video or reading the article below. For those that have the preset system, you can see the Preset Mixology below:

My Mixology

  • 01-30 BASE – VIVID: 33a. HDR Medium – Color

Local Area Adjustments

  • Radial Filter: 03 Burn (Darken) -0.5 Stops (adjusted to -0.60)
  • Adjustment Brush: 04 Dodge (Brighten) +0.5 Stop
  • Adjustment Brush: 03 Burn (Darken) -0.5 Stops (adjusted to -0.60)
  • Adjustment Brush: 13 Nature | Color

Watch The How To Enhance Reception Venue Photos Video

How To Enhance Reception Venue Photos

Checking the Exif Data and Historgram


The first thing we do is check to see how this image was shot, and you can do this in Lightroom by pressing “i” on the keyboard. This photo was shot on a Canon 5D mark III with a Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 II, shot at 67mm using a tripod. With the tripod we can take advantage of a long exposure in order to keep our ISO at 200 so that we get a clean image with minimal noise. This cake was suspended on an unstable platform and we didn’t want to slow the shutter too much in case it moved slightly. In the Histogram we can see that we don’t have any highlights blown and we’re clipping minimal shadows.


Choosing Our Preset

Now we’re going to jump into our presets and choose the “01-30 BASE – VIVID: 33a. HDR Medium – Color” preset. With this one preset we can already see a great improvement in our image. It’s balancing the highlights and shadows in this image by pulling the Highlights and the Whites down by -50 each and increasing the Shadows and Blacks by +50. The preset is also adding great colors and details by increasing the Contrast, Clarity, Vibrance, and Saturation.


Using the Eyedropper Tool and Fine Tuning White Balance

This image looks great now, but it’s going to need some fine tuning to make it extraordinary. We’re going to dial in the White Balance by using the Eyedropper tool (you can click on the icon or press “w” on the keyboard) and sampling an area on the cake.


The Eyedropper did a great job, but the result is a little too neutral for our taste, so we’re going to warm it up. We increased the Color Tempurature from 2650 to 3000 and the Tint from +8 to +13. Although the adjustments are minor, it gives the image a completely different feel.


Cropping The Image

I want to crop into this image because there are some unattractive draping pipes we’re getting in our background. You can get to the cropping tool by clicking on the icon or by pressing “r” on the keyboard. I’m going to select the 16×9 aspect ratio and crop my image accordingly.


Fine Tuning Exposure and Radial Filter

Our image is coming along nicely, but we still have two problems, the background is too dark and the cake is too bright. To fix the underexposed background we’re going to raise the Exposure to +.80, but now the cake is nearly blown out, so we’re going to use a Radial Filter to compensate.


We’re going to select the Radial Filter with the “03 Burn (Darken) -0.5 Stops” (adjusted to -0.60) preset and shape it around the cake. When you want the effect of your Radial Filter to adjust the inside of radius instead of the outside be sure to have the “Invert Mask” check box selected. We want a subtle graduation with this filter so we’re going to adjust the Feather to 30.

Burning and Dodging With The Adjustment Brush

The flowers at the bottom of the cake are a bit dark so we’re going to use an Adjustment Brush with the “04 Dodge (Brighten) +0.5” preset to brighten them up. We want to make sure they’re not too bright because we don’t want to draw attention away from the cake.

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The are some flowers and areas on the cake that are a bit too bright, so we’re going to use an Adjustment Brush with the “03 Burn (Darken) -0.5 Stop” (adjusted to -0.60) preset. We’re going to burn down some of the flowers on the top of the cake that are losing some color and details because they’re overexposed.

We also want to darken some of the shadows on the the left side of the image so the chairs and the end of the drapes aren’t so prominent. We’re going to us an Adjustment Brush with the “03 Burn (Darken) -0.5 Stops” to darken that area. To give the image a natural darkening we want to use the brush along the shadows that are already there, so it’s both effective and subtle. With the same brush we’re also going to burn the dance floor and the drapes on the right side of the image. Be sure to watch the video above to see exactly where the brush adjustments are being applied.

Nature | Color Brush

We’re going to add one last brush adjustment so the flowers get a little more emphasis in our image. Using the Adjustment Brush with the “13 Nature | Color” preset, we’re going to get more nice colors and details out of the flowers.


Final Image

Now we’re done editing our image! Here’s what our photo looks like before and after our preset and adjustments are applied.





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!