If you’re an Elements user who wants to take your image editing skills to the next level without blowing your budget, you can shoot Raw files and edit them in Lightroom 4. Adobe Lightroom costs a lot less than Photoshop CS, but it boasts the same set of powerful Raw editing tools that you’ll find in the more expensive package. In this Adobe Lightroom tutorial we’ll show you how you can transform your pictures of people into classic Hollywood portraits in just 8 simple steps.
You can follow our tutorial by downloading a free 30-day trial version of Lightroom 4 from Adobe.
In this Adobe Lightroom tutorial we’ll show you how to use the software’s Develop module to turn a Raw colour shot into a striking high-contrast mono image in the style of a Hollywood ‘starlet’ portrait.
Adobe Lightroom 4 enables you to lighten or darken the tones of particular colours, and we’ll use it to give our subject a bright, glowing complexion that contrasts dramatically with her sultry dark lips.
Lightroom lacks the Blur filters found in Photoshop Elements and CS, so you can’t create a shallow depth of field effect in the conventional way.
Instead, we’ll show you how to use Adobe Lightroom 4’s versatile Adjustment Brush to gently blur our subject’s hair and clothing, and draw the eye to her sharply focused face. We’ll also add film grain, and lighten the edges to help evoke that vintage feel.
01 Import the image
In Lightroom 4 go to File > Import Photos and Video, and in the Source window browse to your start image and select it. By default Lightroom will add the shot to its catalogue without moving it from its original location. Tick the hollywood_start.dng image’s thumbnail and click Import – this will bring the shot into Lightroom’s Library module.
02 Crop in close
Click the Develop icon – this opens the image in the Develop module, where you can edit it. The darkroom tools are at the top-right. Click the Crop tool (or press R to select it), and drag the crop overlay’s handle in to tighten the crop around the subject. This removes some of the featureless studio backdrop, and makes our would-be starlet look more prominent in the frame. Click Done to apply the crop.
03 Boost the contrast
Click the Black & White option in the Basic panel to desaturate the shot, and push the Exposure slider up to +0.80 to brighten the skin’s highlights. Next Go to the Tone Curve panel, click the Point Curve drop-down menu, and change it from the default Linear setting to Medium Contrast, to create a curve that produces darker shadows and brighter highlights.
04 Selective tone tweaks
To fine-tune which areas are lighter or darker, scroll down to the B&W panel. Drag the Red slider down to -20; this darkens tones that are red in the start image, creating striking dark lipstick that contrasts with the skin. Set the Orange slider to +30 to lighten the skin even more, and reveal more texture in the sweater, and set Purple to +50 to lighten the studio backdrop.
05 Add a vignette
Go to the Post Crop Vignetting section of the Effects panel. Set Style to Colour Priority, then set Amount to +20, Roundness to +70 and Feather to 40. This gently lightens the corners, giving them a faded look that evokes a vintage print and helping our subject’s darker features stand out more.
06 Add some grain
Go to the Navigator window at the left of the interface, and click the 1:1 option to view the shot’s actual pixels. Go to the Grain section in the Effects panel and drag the Amount slider up to 12. Set Size to 40 for larger clumps of film-like grain, and set Roughness to 67. The cool thing about Lightroom’s Grain effects is that they’ll also be applied to areas we blur, creating a more authentic-looking film effect.
07 Enhance the hair
To add a sheen to our subject’s hair, click on the Adjustment Brush icon to select it (or press K). Click to place an adjustment ‘pin’ in the hair, then set Exposure to 0.40 and Contrast to 30, and push Clarity up to 100, which will increase the ‘local’ contrast between the strands of hair. Set the brush size to 16.0, and paint over the hair to make the highlights stand out more in contrast to the darker details.
08 Selective blur
Click the New icon in the settings panel, and click to place a second pin near the edge of the hair. Set Exposure and Contrast to 0, and Sharpness and Clarity to -100. Paint around the edges of the hair, and over the lower fifth or so of the subject, to blur those areas and create a shallow depth of field effect.
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