How You Shot It is a series where you show us how you shot an image. Many who use our presets love to share their special processing recipes. You can join the SLR Lounge Textures and Presets group on Facebook and share your favorite images and recipes as well!

Today’s entry comes to us from James Moxley, who originally submitted this image to our Textures and Preset group on Facebook!


I started getting into portrait photography a year ago with the Vancouver Island Models and Photographers group. VIMP is a non-profit group of amateur and professional photographers and models. We meet every Friday at a different outdoor location for a photo shoot.

We decided this year to start the Friday night shoots early, the snow had cleared, and the weather was clear. The only problem we had was finding locations with enough light later in the evening. I knew of a park by the ocean which had a great view of Mt. Arrowsmith, and a potential for amazing sunsets.

We created an event and had a call out to the photographers and models in the group. The nice thing about the Friday shoots is that you can practice, be as creative as you like, you never know who is going to show up or what the weather will be like.

How I Shot It


Camera Settings

  • ISO: 200
  • Shutter: 1/200 secs
  • Aperture:  f/4.2

We scheduled the shoot at the beach an hour before sunset to get the good light. We were fortunate the tide was out so that we had access to this amazing boulder, which is normally surrounded by water. We had a great turn out, including my friend Magalie who was modeling for the first time.

I knew I wanted the model to be facing me with her back to the sun. The sun would be my second light, creating a nice hair light for separation. I set up a light stand and positioned it camera right, about 45 degrees to the model. I wanted a softer, more flattering light so I used a white shoot through umbrella to diffuse the light by making it a bigger light source.  I ran into a problem with the sun being so low,  I was standing below the model and I couldn’t see the hair light.

I asked the model to change position, so that I could use her pose to create a frame for the sun instead. Since the sun was directly in front of me, I knew I needed to adjust the exposure to compensate for all the direct light. I opened up my aperture and moved the flash closer by a few feet to get more light on the model. I wanted a shallow depth of field, and had to keep my flash sync speed below 1/200th, so I used a variable ND filter to control the ambient light.

How I Processed It

Lightroom Edit

  1. First I applied the SLRLounge  Preset 00a. Standard Import
  2. For color, I chose Preset 01a. Yellow/Violet (I like having violet in the shadows and the yellows in the highlights.)
  3. I decreased the vibrancy and increased the saturation.
  4. Added more clarity to bring out the overall detail and contrast in the mid tones.
  5. The image felt way too warm so I adjusted the white balance to be cooler.
  6. Then I lightened the shadows so I could see the detail in the ground.
  7. I felt the sunset needed to be a bit more orange and shifted the yellow hue.
  8. To make the model’s skin less orange and brighter, I increased the orange luminance.
  9. I used an adjustment brush and painted over the rock to bring up the clarity and shadows.
  10. I added a subtle vignette with the radial blur around the model to help draw the eye towards her.
  11. I used the spot removal tool to remove the distracting lens flare.

Photoshop Edit


In Photoshop CC, I removed the stray hairs above the models head using the patch tool. I used the liquify tool to bring in the waist and the back to create more space between the arm and the body.

To add more contrast, I dodged and burned the legs and arms, then added highlights to the temple, cheeks, nose and chin.

The photo was then reviewed by a few friends from VIMP. The consensus was that the model’s left hand  looked enlarged and stretched because it was closer to the lens, and because the field of view was very wide. To correct, I used the pinch effect with the liquify tool to decrease the size, and I was careful to keep the horizon from warping.

The Gear

I carry most of my gear in a Lowepro Flipside sport 10L bag. The light stand and umbrella are kept in a small carrying case.

In Conclusion

A lot was done in camera with lighting, and with the help of the SLR Lounge preset system, I was able to get the photo closer to what we were feeling out there. I think what makes a great photo is a great location, a beautiful subject and amazing light. Even if you only have two of those, you’ll still get a good photo.

For every shoot, I use this simple recipe and then add to it to, like using a basic recipe for cake and then getting creative with the icing. Thanks for reading! Here is the before and after: