Post-production can open the doors to a variety of looks from a single image. The flexibility and range of digital RAW images allows us to pretty much edit however we like. Understanding our editing tools is crucial to nailing the final look we’re going for, be it moody or colorful. In this video, I’ll be showing how to create natural and dramatic Lightroom editing styles from a single image.

Video: Natural vs. Dramatic: 2 Lightroom Editing Styles Using One Image

Capturing the Image

lightroom editing styles how it was shot

I followed a tip from a previous tutorial where I talked about placing your subject in the brightest area of the frame. I captured this image in a ballroom and I added a flash to make my couple pop from the background. You’ll see that this will give us a lot of flexibility later on to change Lightroom editing styles.

To capture this, I used a Canon 5DM4 with a Canon EF 85mm f/1.2 Lens.

Before we begin, download the exercise files here and follow along as I edit!

Related Reading: Level Up Your Portraits With This Simple Lighting Tip

Edit #1: Bright & Natural

The goal of the first edit is to get that bright and airy feeling like it was naturally lit. I applied these basic adjustments to brighten up the image while maintaining the contrast.

In the HSL panel, I brought the colors closer together, mainly in the reds and oranges which are the primary colors in the image. Then, I added profile corrections. This removes the natural vignette and we get edge to edge brightness. Lastly, I adjusted the color calibration to boost some of the warmer tones in the image in a way that feels natural. Here are the settings I used.

lightroom editing styles bright look

After fine tuning the image, this is our final before and after of the bright and airy look.

Edit #2: Dark & Dramatic

Here are the settings for our basic adjustments. You can already see how different the image appears from the first edit.

As with the first look, I used the HSL adjustments to bring the colors, mainly the reds, together. Next, I calibrated the colors to get that uniform warmth.

Lastly, I added a vignette to darken the area around our subjects. This works well because we lit our subjects to be the brightest part of the image. When everything else around them darkens, it looks very natural.

Comparing Both Lightroom Editing Styles

lightroom editing styles final comparison

Check out final images side by side, both edited from the same RAW image.

Conclusion

I hope this video/article showed just how powerful and flexible RAW images can be when it comes to editing. Once you learn the steps, creating multiple Lightroom editing styles out of a single image will be a breeze. For a full course on Lightroom editing, check out the Mastering Lightroom Course from SLR Lounge Premium. In addition, for intuitive lighting based presets and tools to kick off your great edits, be sure to check out Visual Flow.

Don’t miss our next episode of Mastering Your Craft on Adorama’s YouTube channel next week! If you want to catch up on all the episodes, make sure you check out our playlist!