For this weeks tutorial, we’re going to show you how to create a Natural HDR Environmental Portrait using the SLR Lounge Lightroom Presets v5. We’re going to go from a regular image to a stylized HDR Environmental Portrait in just a few clicks.

[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

My Mixology

  • 01-10 BASE – SOFT: 17a HDR Heavy – Skin Desat
  • 03-00 ADJUST – EXPOSURE: 06. Brighten +0.5 (adjusted to +0.6)

Local Adjustments

  • Brush:  12 Sky | Cloud | Ocean
  • Brush: 16 Light Unenhance HDR (Skin)
  • Radial Filter: 03 Burn (Darken) -0.5 Stop (Adjusted to -0.30)

Watch the Lightroom Video Tutorial

Complete Written Tutorial

When we pull up our EXIF data, we know that we’re losing a little bit of dynamic range because this image was shot at ISO 200. At ISO 200 we’re losing about half a stop of dynamic range, but we still have enough image information for this type of image which we refer to as a single-shot HDR. We also want to check the Histogram to make sure we exposed the image correctly without detail loss in the highlights or shadows

We’re going to select our 01-10 BASE – SOFT: 17a HDR Heavy – Skin Desat preset and that preset really does all of the work for us. The preset brings out a lot of details in the photo by raising the Contrast, Shadows and Blacks and dropping the Highlights and Whites. The Clarity has been decreased slightly for skin, as well as the Orange and Red in the HSL. The preset dropped our Vibrance and Saturation slightly, but we want a little more color in this image so we’re going to put them back to zero. Our Sharpening and Noise Reduction settings are doing a great job at pulling out a lot of details, and keeping the noise off the skin and dark areas of the photo. We’re going to adjust Color Temperature and Tint to taste, and also raise our Exposure to +0.60 so their skin looks nice and flattering. Here are what our Develop settings look like after our preset and adjustments are applied.


There’s a lot water in this photo so we’re going to use our “12 Sky | Cloud | Ocean” brush and pull out some of the details in the water around our couple. We’re going to adjust our brush slightly so the effect is a little more subtle. Here is our brush settings before and after.

Default Brush Settings on Left, Adjusted Brush Settings on Right
Default Brush Settings on Left, Adjusted Brush Settings on Right

Now we’re going to use our “Brush: 16 Light Unenhance HDR (Skin)” brush to take out some of the HDR effects our preset has on their skin. We’re going to zoom in and apply it to their skin. It does a nice job of taking out the Saturation and Contrast from their skin.


The last thing we’re going to do is add a Radial Filter with our “03 Burn (Darken) -0.5 Stop” preset and adjust the Exposure to -0.30.


Now we’re done with our edit. Here’s what our image looks like before and after.






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!