Lightroom Rapid Editing PLUS for People

After I completed the development of Lightroom Rapid Editing PLUS for Landscapes and Cityscapes it was time to take care the People Collection

Lightroom Rapid Editing PLUS for People

The Lightroom Rapid Editing PLUS concept addresses the shortcoming in Lightroom functionality. Due to the nature of RAW processing, Lightroom does not have one of the most useful functionalities of any editing program, the ability to change Opacity.

In one of my earlier posts, I shared with you my idea how to overcome Lightroom deficiency and hack Opacity functionality.


The concept is simple, for each preset in the People Collection, I created 6 additional versions by generating different opacity versions in 10% increments. I started with 40% because the versions where the opacity range was between 10% and 30% were too subtle to see any effects and produced totally useless results.

The Lightroom Rapid Editing PLUS for People Collection will be a very valuable addition when editing portraits.

Let me explain.

When you edit cityscapes, you can be as aggressive as you want whether that involves changing colors and tones, enhancing the contrast or experimenting with unusual color combinations. The reason for this is because there is no reference point for the person, the viewer, looking at your picture. In most cases, the viewer does not know what the color of the building actually is, which allows you to freely manipulate it.

When you edit landscapes, there are a few more restrictions because the viewer has many reference points. The viewer knows that grass and tree leaves are green so, if you change these to blue, it does not usually work well. However, there is some degree of latitude for creative editing. If you change the color of the grass from green to orange, it might actually work if it looks like fall colors.

When editing portraits, the process becomes even more restrictive. The main reason for that is because of the skin color of your subjects, which becomes the most important reference point for your viewers. The degree at which you can manipulate portraits is much smaller compared to cityscapes and landscapes.

The ability to dial down effect of any preset from People collection will give us unprecedented flexibility when editing portraits.

Let me show you what I mean.

Lightroom Rapid Editing PLUS Workflow for People Photograpy

For the demonstration of the proposed workflow, I purposely selected the photo I took in a broad daylight during my coastal drive in California (Big Sur).

This is a typical outdoor portrait where natural surroundings are much brighter than the person in the foreground.

The goal of the editing to brighten up the face of the model by recovering the shadows and to balance the brightness between foreground and the background.


Step 1: Exposure Adjustment

Select the image and evaluate the exposure value. If it needs any adjustment, use the TOOLKIT or the Lightroom Exposure slider in the Basic Panel to set the exposure value to achieve the desired result.

Rapid Editing TOOLKIT Exposure Adjustment

Lightroom Basic Panel Exposure Adjustment


Step 2: Style Preset

Open the preset folder PhotoTraces Vol.2 - People PLUS  and start applying the presets to the selected photo. The goal here is to find an interesting look, something you can improve upon later.

I suggest starting with the 100% versions because that is how it was intended to work when the effect was first created.

In my case, I liked the look Happy Morning preset produced but the effect was too strong.


Step 3: Setting Up Interface

Open the Navigator window above the Presets panel if it is not already open.

Drag the Lightroom left panel boundary all the way to the right, making it as wide as possible. The goal is to have the biggest possible preview in the Navigator panel.


Step 4: Playing With the Opacity

Move the mouse over the Happy Morning preset versions with the various opacity values without clicking on them. By doing this, you can see a real-time preview of the effects in the Navigator window, which will help you identify the editing effect you like the most.


Step 5: Standard Rapid Editing

When you see the version you like the best, click on it to apply the effect on the main image.

In this particular case I selected Happy Morning 60% version.

From that point, you can use a combination of TOOLKIT adjustments to fine tune the photo using the standard Lightroom Rapid Editing approach

I applied the following TOOLKIT adjustments:  7. Open Shadow +, 32 Vignetting ++

And here is the Lightroom Rapid Editing Formula: Happy Morning 60% (7, 32)

I created three more versions of the same capture using Rapid Editing PLUS Workflow I outlined earlier.

Under each final photo you can find the Lightroom Rapid Editing formula.

Rapid Editing Formula: Hilltop 60% (9, 12, 32)

Rapid Editing Formula: Outreach 70% (7, 33)

Rapid Editing Formula: On the Beach 50% (8, 13, 32)


by Viktor Elizarov
I am a travel photographer and educator from Montreal, Canada, and a founder of PhotoTraces. I travel around the world and share my experiences here. Feel free to check my Travel Portfolio and download Free Lightroom Presets.