How to Add a Cinema Effect to Your Photos with Adobe Lightroom

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Adobe Lightroom is one of the strongest photo editing platforms you can use. Posts with visual images boost engagement by 650%. With the importance of image marketing and visuals for businesses, you need to be a wizard at editing your photos. Actually going about this is easier said than done, though.

This tutorial is going to show you how you can go about creating a desaturated cinema effect for your photos. It can help to bring out the detail of photos, particularly portraits, and to make your images look far more dramatic.

Step 1 – What Images Work Best?

It’s important to note that this isn’t an effect that will work the same with every single image. There are certain images that it works best with. For a start, you should only employ this effect with portraits. This is an effect that specifically brings out all the tiny details, such as the wrinkles on an old man’s face or the texture of a woman’s skin.

Landscape pictures with bright and bold colors will have far less to gain from this effect. Like most effects in Adobe Lightroom, it’s just a matter of loading the picture and moving the various sliders into the correct places.

Step 2 – The Basic Section

To begin with, you are going to be going into the ‘Basic’ section. This is found in the development module. Your first goal is to slightly increase the contrast. It’s wise to do this in extremely fine increments. In many cases +5 is more than enough to accomplish the effect you want.

Now you will need to adjust the highlights, the shadows, the whites, and the blacks. All of these should be negative figures, other than shadows. You may need to play around with this somewhat, but you shouldn’t need to go over 20 for any of these options.

What this accomplishes is giving a greater dramatic range. You also have a stronger black point, which is essential for bringing out all those details.

Finally, for the Presence section you should increase the clarity to sharpen the look of your image. You should also take both the saturation and vibrancy down to take away some of the color. Bear in mind that it’s the details that matter not the colors.


Step 3 – The Tone Curve

Once you have finished adjusting the Basic settings of your image, you should move down to the Tone Curve section. At this point, you have two choices.

If you are feeling confident with Adobe Lightroom, or you want something extremely specific from your images, you can adjust the curve by yourself. But for most people using the Medium Contrast preset will give you that extra bit of contrast that will make your image stand out from others.


Step 4 – Adding the Vignette

The last step is to add a vignette. This is where it can all go wrong because most novices will add a vignette that is far too strong. You need to make it relatively subtle. You will find all the tools you need in the Effects section.

Here you will find the Post Crop Vignette settings. Change the amount and the midpoint to get the effect you want. Depending on the image you are editing, the results you get could be radically different. You should spend some time playing around with the various settings here.



Presets are an Option and there are many free presets for Lightroom available online.

But what if you don’t feel confident about making all these changes to your images?

There’s a faster and more convenient way of accomplishing the same. There are many websites where you can download Lightroom Presets. They automatically apply these setting to your images, in the same way as Instagram filter do.

You do have to remember that there are limitations to these presets, though. It’s impossible to use them for everything because every image is different. What a preset does to one image will do something slightly different to another.

The best thing is that these presets can be altered. Many people save a lot of time on their images by adding a preset and then making only slight adjustments to that preset to make it fit with the image on offer.


Some well-placed changes to your images can make all the difference. They can help to catch people’s eyes and to promote a product or service.

What changes will you make to your images using Adobe Lightroom today?



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