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Could anyone give any recommendations or links that may help me make my photos in soft, pastel tones, like photos from these albums:

I'd like to have some tips for Lightroom, like "these parameters of tone curve, this value of tint, this of split toning, ...", etc.

Couple of photos from there:

Photo 1 Author: (Permission granted by owner)

Photo 2 Author: (Permission granted by owner)

Photo 3 Author: (Permission granted by owner)

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First thing first...shoot content that already has "pastel" colors, or has colors that can be softened to appear pastel. That includes pinks, blues, purples, yellows, etc. You'll notice that all of the sample photo's you've references all include pastel tones to start with, which would only require minimal processing to produce the softer, lower-contrast results you see here. –  jrista Oct 30 '11 at 17:02
I am not sure what you mean by "copyrights added". Simply put, you do not have the right to post their work anywhere without their permission. You have posted someone elses (apparently several other peoples) work here on PhotoSE, and that is technically a copyright violation. You can link to the photos, but without express permission from each artist, you technically do not have the right to post the images here, and we (stackexchange) could be liable, or at least caught up in, any copyright infringement claims. –  jrista Oct 31 '11 at 17:56
I apologize, but I have to insist that you only link to the images unless you have been given express permission from each artist to host the images here for demonstration purposes. –  jrista Oct 31 '11 at 17:56
I am willing to give you another chance to link the photos in your question. By the end of the day, if the embedded versions are not removed, I'll have to edit your post and remove them myself. The simple fact of the matter is that work is COPYRIGHTED, and neither you, nor PhotoSE, nor StackExchange, nor imgr, have the rights to display or host them without proper permission. –  jrista Dec 18 '11 at 21:11
@jrista, take a look at this screenshot: , and I can try to find other emails in my inbox (if it is possible ;)) I hope you see that there are no reasons to worry. –  Genius Dec 19 '11 at 20:42

3 Answers 3

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Let me explain how to accomplish this, then once you know that, you can do it and save the preset. First, take a subject similar to one you might use. Here is a baby image that looks good for a pastel treatment:

baby image

Note that the contrast and tonality are pretty good and that the detail is good throughout. Now, in the Lightroom Develop Module, slide the fill light slider to the right. This will, all by itself provide a certain amount of pastel. I used a setting of 50-60 and what's really happening here is that the shadows are being moved into the lower third tone range and highlights are being allowed to blow out. (You may also want to lower the clarity to reduce the local contrast.)

Second, most people who are doing this are using some color overlay. Either a rose or yellow. You can do this using the Lightroom Graduated Filter. I used a very light red to provide a warm overlay effect.

baby image with fill and rose overlay

If you like the look, then save it as a preset and you're ready to go. Moving off the "what you can do in Lightroom" topic, there is "what you can do using 3rd party filters". Here is the same image run through Nik Viveza to bring the white background more white and the Nik Color Efex Pro to provide the vintage look (it's about 4 clicks to get the entire effect):

filtered baby image

All images are © Steve Ross (me), just so there's no question whether I ripped someone else's stuff off.

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Thank you a lot! This was really helpful for me. Experiments I did tonight are not so good, as expected, but I see this was just my mistake. Anyway colors got soft as I wanted so! ;) –  Genius Dec 19 '11 at 21:47
You're welcome. Experiment with increasing brightness and decreasing the color temperature if you want a more bluish cast, increasing tint and color temperature for a more rose cast, or just increasing color temperature for a yellowish cast. Another interesting avenue to pursue is split toning. –  Steve Ross Dec 19 '11 at 22:02

Have you considered trying to get most of the way with the look you want at the time you take the pictures? Common attributes of the pictures you posted:

  • Lots of even light everywhere. Shoot outside, on a day with overcast sky.
  • Shallow depth of field. Use a long lens, or wide aperture, or both.
  • Dress your subjects and props in pastel colors.

Starting from the above, the amount of retouching you will need to do in Lightroom will be minimal.

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Best bet is to download some LR presets, try them out and see how close they get you. You probably are going to want to reduce saturation, and it looks like remove some green and or blue. From there you can adjust things. My two favorite places for good presets are:

onOne Software free preset pack:

In this one, I think is a preset called "Natural Beauty" that comes close to what you posted, though it does depend on your image.

The other site is from Matt Kloskowski at his "Lightroom Killer Tips" site:

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