Lightroom Preset Tutorial 001
Recently, I have been tweaking the Adobe Lightroom (Lightroom CC) presets that I’ve been using on my photos. I used to have the orange and blue contrast thing going on but I wanted to add a bit of green and magenta tints. I’ve recently come up with a new one, inspired by the aesthetics of Zack Snyder (DC Films) and the warm tones of Mad Max Fury. See the new sample edit below:
I lowered the blues to focus on the warm colors but at the same time using green shadows to balance the temperature. I didn’t want it to be one of those Sepia photos. I wanted it to look warm but at the same time, cold. To further explain the preset, I’m sharing the steps I took to achieve this aesthetics using Adobe Lightroom CC Mobile.
1. The first step is to work on your exposure. The right balance between exposure and contrast will help your object to pop out of the frame. Save your overexposed “skies” by using the highlight tool. I usually push it below the 50 mark to clearly balance it out with the dark object as I tend to take darker photos. The shadows will then balance the underexposed silhouettes. Finally, the whites and blacks sharpens the light imbalance.
2. The S-curve. This is the most confusing part for a lot of folks out there. I’m still confused myself and I’m not fully equipped to explain the feature well. I just know that the upper point tends to contrasts and the light spots, while the lower points tend to fading. I keep a slightly W-curve instead of the S to balance the contrast and fade that I want to achieve. And using three points as shown above, I curve it to a w on the RGB setting.
3. The curve region, as shown above, then adjusts the balance between highlights, shadows, and lights. I adjust the highlights to a lower region and the blacks to an upper region (20-30% give or take).
4. We now get to adjust the colors. I usually just lower the temperature and vibrance to prepare for the warm tones I want to achieve later. This will help avoid over saturated reds in the process later.
5. Color grading is the most important part of my process. Since I want to achieve the moody brown aesthetics of the film Mad Max Fury while at he same time balancing the blue and green shadows of Zack Snyder DC films, I focus more on the reds and greens. As shown above, I adjusted red, orange, and yellow to the hue of orange with a slightly lower saturation.
6. I then worked on the greens. I didn’t want to focus on the greens so I adjusted its hue to yellow and decrease the saturation to almost 75-80. This will enhance the brown mood.
7. I made sure that while the greens are almost 0 in saturation, I wanted to balance it with a bluer tone. So I adjusted the blue to a low saturation level that is just enough to match the warm colors.
8. We’re now off to split the tones. Since I wanted a more orange highlight to focus on warmth, I adjusted its hue to the low saturation level between red and yellow. To counter is and avoid the Sepia filter problem of reds, I added a blue shadow tone to fix it. Then I adjust the balance according to the demands of the photo.
9. We’re almost done! Adjust to your own liking the texture, clarity, vignette. you can add your own aesthetics to the mix. This is also where I remove imperfections, crop, or rotate to balance.
10. Finally, head back to the exposure tab and adjust to offset the changes caused by the split toning and color grading. I also sometimes head back to the temperature tab to adjust it enough for balance.
And now you have the final photo! Continue the minimal adjustments until you’re satisfied. Remember, presets are only to guide the aesthetics. You’re free to adjust it per photo, per setting.
A slight note on why i'd rather share the process than sell my presets: I keep on changing/tweaking my aesthetics. I'd be happier to share how the tools work rather than sell one final piece. And I'm still learning in the process so there's that. Let's keep learning!