Facebook Pixel Soft Flattering Color Portraits in Lightroom 4 and Lightroom 5

Soft Flattering Color Portraits in Lightroom 4 and Lightroom 5


The Following is an excerpt from the SLR Lounge Lightroom Preset System v5, a preset system designed to take you from Ordinary to Extraordinary photos in just a few seconds and clicks.

We have just launched the new Lightroom Preset System v5, and in this first tutorial we want to create a soft and flattering look for color portraits. We want to maintain good overall contrast, while flattening out highlights and smoothing out the details a bit for a more flattering look. Each one of you will probably have different preferences in regards to overall contrast and color temperature, but this Base preset and modification are pretty much our foundation for all of our color portraits within the Lin and Jirsa Photography studio. Here is what the photo looked like before and after the effect is applied.


Lightroom Preset System v5 Mixology Recipe

For those that own the SLR Lounge Lightroom Preset System v5, you can follow this two click recipe. If you like, you can save it as a new custom Mixology, however, since it is only a 1-click modification on our existing Base Preset, we will not be adding this to a new custom Mixology Preset.

Develop Mixology
1) 01-10 Base-Soft 11a. Extra Soft-Skin Desat
2) 03-40 Adjust Shadows Blacks 42. Darken-Medium -15, -30

Adjust Exposure, Temperature and Tint to taste.

Local Adjustments
We used the Graduated Filter and used the “04 Dodge (Brighten) +.5 stop” to brighten up the bottom left of the photo. To see exactly how it was applied, watch the video tutorial below.

Watch the Video Tutorial

If you would like to follow along with the Video Tutorial, watch the video blow.

Complete Written Tutorial

This written tutorial is meant for those who don’t have the SLR Lounge Lightroom Preset System v5. If you follow along you’ll be able to edit your photos with the same settings we used to edit this one. For any photo we edit we like to check the EXIF data by pressing “i”. This will show us exactly what camera the photo was taken one, what lens, and the settings. You can customize what EXIF data you want to see by pressing “CMD + J” or “CTRL + J”. This photo was taken on a 5D Mark II at 1/800 sec at f/2.0 ISO 100 with a 50mm lens.

The first thing we did was go into our “01-10 Base – Soft” preset folder and applied the “11a. Extra Soft – Skin Desat preset”. This preset does most of our work for us, adjusting our exposure, highlights, shadows, whites, and blacks the way we would want them for a portrait like this. The clarity, vibrance, and saturation have all been dropped, giving us a nice soft portrait look. Here’s what our settings look like on the right side panel.


Our “1) 01-10 Base-Soft 11a. Extra Soft-Skin Desat” preset lowered our Red and Orange levels, desaturating the skin and taking out the red and orange highlighting that can appear in shadows and highlight areas of our subjects skin.

  • Red: -20
  • Orange: -10

In the Tone Curve we have a standard “S” curve, giving us a subtle contrast boost by raising the highlights and dropping the shadows.


We add a bit of Noise Reduction Luminance in our portraits because it does a great job smoothing out the pores and making skin look great. We had to raise the sharpening a bit on this photo because it was shot at such a wide aperture, making the depth of field very shallow. Here are what our “Sharpening” and “Noise Reduction” settings look like.


The vignetting in this photo underexposed her skin slightly in the corners of the photo. This is a great opportunity to use a graduated filer. You can simply go to the Graduated Filter and raise your exposure to “0.50”. Then raise the graduated filter from the bottom left of the photo and come up to the strap of her dress. Watch the video tutorial to see exactly where we put it. After the graduated filter we’re left with our final image, here’s a 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 Preset System v5

Read more from our Tips & Tutorials category

Post Production Pye
Post Production Pye

I hate speaking of myself in the third person, haha. I am a Partner and professional photographer with Lin and Jirsa Los Angeles Wedding Photography, and the Senior Editor for SLR Lounge Photography Tutorials. I am passionate about photography as an art as well as my part as an educator in the industry. Subscribe to our YouTube Channel and feel free to hit me up with questions anytime on Facebook.

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