I've stumbled upon this video with very deep and rich colors. The skin tones are nice, the blacks on their hair and the spec frame on one of the girls are really deep black. The colors on their shirts are also very vivid.


Is it possible to achieve this effect in Lightroom 3? I've played with the Vibrance slider but I'm unable to produce the same look and feel with my photos.

Here's one of my photos:


  • 1
    Isn't this just another example for your previous question on getting more vibrant colors in that picture?
    – mattdm
    Jan 13 '12 at 14:07
  • @mattdm, I think the sample of their own photo is irrelevant to the question of how to RE the look in the video. Which seems to have different adjustments than the examples in the other questions.
    – cabbey
    Jan 13 '12 at 21:42
  • @mattdm: My previous question was about shooting technique not PP. The reason I asked that question was because I thought (perhaps a little naively) that it's possible to achieve vibrant colors like those in the examples without PP. Since then, many people (both in this StackExchange and offline) have suggested that those examples are heavily post-processed. That's why I'm learning Lightroom now. I'm a newbie, so I'm a bit disorientated in my learning process. I'm sorry if it's confusing for you. :(
    – duysurfing
    Jan 14 '12 at 17:08
  • Actually there's 2 ways of solving this problem: achieve toning and WB. Do it in post or while shooting, it's your choice, choose the best workflow you can. I prefer to do everything on post and focus on composition/exposure/sharp focus/DoF while shooting. BTW, if you do PP all the time, shoot RAW, if you get it right in the camera, shoot JPEG.
    – Aki
    Feb 9 '12 at 7:23

Looks like the black level has been brought up a bit high on that video.

screen shot of LR (click image for larger)

  • Thanks, cabbey. But your editing seems to give a darker skin tone. In the video the skin tones are much lighter. Perhaps, a still photo illustrates what I want to achieve better: k14.vcmedia.vn/Images/Uploaded/Share/2012/01/05/… Please look at the colors of the model's scarf and her dress.
    – duysurfing
    Jan 14 '12 at 17:11
  • 1
    @duysurfing well clearly there is other editing needed, but you specifically asked about "The skin tones are nice, the blacks on their hair and the spec frame on one of the girls are really deep black." Bringing up the black level is how you accomplish the deep black hair and glasses without destroying the skin tones and vivid colors. (Note the sleeze of the sweater in the screen shot did get a bit more vivid as well.)
    – cabbey
    Jan 15 '12 at 21:22
  • Pushing the black give more intensity to the colors, with it to 0 it looks too plain IMO. If you find the face too dark you can still play with the highlights (curve tone settings) and the fill light setting to compensate. Think also to gently lift up saturation. I don't like it but you can use the adjustment brush in Lightroom to affect only a specific area and fix/protect her face. If you don't change settings while shooting, you'll have to do everything in PP, it's often easier to have a PP workflow than change settings for every shot, there's so many others things to think about.
    – Aki
    Feb 9 '12 at 7:20
  • YES!!! I've played around with the Black level slider, and it did help me achieve the desired effect. The trick, I have discovered, is I need to adjust the skin tones first (using WB, Exposure, and Brightness), and then increase the Black level gradually until it looks right. Looking back, it sounds so simple and obvious: Want deep blacks? Increase Black level. Duh!!! But a newbie needs some pointers and guidance. Thanks, Cabbey.
    – duysurfing
    Feb 9 '12 at 7:33
  • @Aki: Yes, I've realized the power of RAW and Lightroom! :) You're right that while shooting there's so much to worry about: pose, framing, composition, etc. Now, I've adopted the "expose to the right" philosophy and rely on PP afterwards to achieve the desired effects.
    – duysurfing
    Feb 9 '12 at 7:43

The answer to your question is YES! If you are a newbie with Lightroom 3, I suggest that you use presets. There are tons of free and commercial presets in the internet. For paid Lightroom presets, check this out: http://www.lightroompresets.com/. If you don't want to spend anything for a preset then checkout free Lightroom presets from this link: http://presetpond.com/

Hope this helps. :)

An update:

Used Lightroom to post-process this photo

I did a quick post-processing on your sample image. Here's my settings:

Exposure - +1.15 Recovery - 39 Fill Light - 17 Blacks - 13 Brightness - -22 Contrast - -34

Presence Clarity - +100 Vibrance - +26 Saturation - -8

Hue Red - -14 Orange - +9 Yellow - 0 Green - 0 Aqua - +11 Blue - +45 Purple - +55 Magenta - +36

Noise Reduction Luminance - 52 Detail - 54 Contrast - 57

Notice that the eyes are not affected much by this setting. I use the Adjustment Brush on them but I failed to save the configuration.

  • 1
    What kind of presets will have the desired effect?
    – mattdm
    Feb 9 '12 at 5:46
  • Thanks, yoninja. This is a great resource; I'll download and try some presets. However, as I'm a newbie I'd prefer not to use presets because I think they're like black boxes and will not help me to really learn the nuts and bolts of Lightroom.
    – duysurfing
    Feb 9 '12 at 7:25
  • Well, if it can make post-processing easier I still would recommend that you download some presets that you like. I use Lightroom from time to time and most of the post-processing that I do I do it in Lightroom. And most of the time, I am using presets because they already have the effects that I wanted to apply on my photos. And, by the way, you can also create your own presets. :)
    – yoninja
    Feb 9 '12 at 16:38
  • @mattdm, I don't have an easy way in determining the right presets. If you use presets a lot, overtime, you will get familiar with their effects. Just experiment. Besides, Lightroom does not directly alter your photos. :)
    – yoninja
    Feb 10 '12 at 17:50

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