Learn how to transform a dull, washed-out portrait into something more atmospheric with a few tips and tricks in Lightroom Classic.
I'll take you through my step-by-step process to edit a portrait by using a few color tweaks, exposure changes, and some selective adjustments that breathe new life into otherwise lackluster shots. The following technique works best for outdoor portraits that feature some kind of foliage or extensive grass background due to the way we'll be changing the hues and saturation of those colors. But the same principles can be applied to any colors in different portraits, so follow along to learn this full editing walkthrough from beginning to end.
Use a Radial Filter
At this point, the subject in the middle of the frame, being backlit, is a little too dark. I want the subject to stand out more, so I've added a Radial filter (from the top toolbar on the right) to cover my subject's face. From here, I've boosted the Whites slider to +33 for more apparent highlights and lowered the Blacks slider slightly to -10 to turn the grays into dark black. Now, the subject's face has more contrast and stands out in the shot.
Add a Vignette
Saturate the Hair
Dodge and Burn
Dehaze the Subject
In order to create this portrait, I've restricted the color palette by altering the hues of the greens to make them more yellow, which matches my subject's jumper. I then desaturated the blues until they were a dull gray. I boosted the rest of the colors back up by using the Vibrance slider to avoid color clipping and enhance the weaker colors in the photograph. After that, I used a series of basic exposure adjustments and selective changes with the Radial Filter and the Adjustment Brush to increase contrast across both the entire frame and selectively on my subject in the center. I then polished the photo by giving the hair more detail and impact so as to match the real-life look of her hair.