In this week’s tutorial we’re going to go over how to get a high contrast look for our images. In scenes that have a lot of energy and activity, a high contrast look really brings out the life in the image. The SLR Lounge Lightroom Presets v5 has presets for high contrast portraits, and we’re going to show you how easy it is to apply in this tutorial.

[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.

Lightroom Presets v5 Mixology Recipe

Develop Mixology
01-10 BASE-SOFT: 14a. Heavy Crush – Skin Desat

Local Adjustment
Radial Filter: 03 Burn (Darken) -0.5 Stop (watch video tutorial for reference)

To see how these presets were applied, watch the video tutorial below.

Watch the Lightroom Video Tutorial

Complete Written Tutorial

When we check our EXIF data we see that this image was shot on a Nikon D700 at a high ISO of 6400. We know that we’re going to have quite a lot of noise because it was shot at such a high ISO, but the preset we’re going to choose is going to help with some of that noise.

Screen Shot 2013-08-12 at 3.40.04 PM

Because this is a high energy portrait, we want to use a high contrast preset. What we’re going to use is our “01-10 BASE-SOFT: 14a. Heavy Crush – Skin Desat” preset because it does adjustments for skin as well as high contrast. The Contrast is being raised and the Shadows and Blacks are being dropped in order to really boost the contrast. Our Highlights are dropped because this is a portrait preset so we want to flatten out those highlights for skin tones. We have our standard Sharpening and Noise Reduction adjustments, and even though this image is shot at such a High ISO, we don’t have to raise any of the Noise Reduction Luminance. In the HSL our Reds and Oranges are being dropped slightly because this preset is desaturating the skin tones slightly. This image is slightly green so we’re going to adjust our Tint and Color Temperature to taste. Here’s what our develop settings look like.


The last thing we’re going to do is add a Radial Filter. This is something unique to Lightroom 5, but Lightroom 4 users can get a similar effect by adjusting the vignette settings.
We’re going to use our “03 Burn (Darken) -0.5 Stop” preset and apply a nice oval Radial Filter around our beautiful couple. We’re going to pull the feather down to 70 to get a more subtle effect.



After we’re done with this image we see that a lot of the blacks are being clipped, and that’s okay for this image. We’re not processing this image to be color correct, we’re processing it to fit the mood. It’s a stylistic choice, and for high energy photos we really love this high contrast look. Remember you should edit for the scene, not because you think something should be “correct”.






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!