Sometimes, all you need is a touch of brief inspiration to get your editing going, and if you enjoy high-contrast imagery, this may be a Lightroom preset for you!
The Minimal Black preset, created by Jungle Presets, is one of the company's most popular choices. Intended for images with a particularly blue and prevalent sky, the company claims that it works well for different types of photos.
Jungle Presets explains that this Lightroom preset can be too high in contrast for portraits and recommends photographers adjust blacks and contrast sliders to bring the edit closer to a preferred final finish.
As it's a high-contrast preset, I wanted to test it out for street photography, where punchy images can work well, compared to the more muted collection of presets, titled Minimal Brown, reviewed early in January 2021.
The Minimal Black preset is a Lightroom-based preset that aims to give images a "catchy, dark and moody, teal and black" look and is created with travel, model, and product photography in mind, priced at $5. It is compatible with Lightroom Mobile and the Desktop version, as well as Photoshop, and Camera Raw.
When you first use the preset, you will notice a significant change to the blue hue, which goes towards the teal, as noted in the description. This kind of hue can create a slightly unnatural look, depending on the scene and the lighting conditions; however, with just a slight change of hue slider, the blues can be brought back to a more realistic color.
For example, in the image above, the preset delivers a vibrant and strong contrast look to the yellow bushes, but the sky blues are leaning too much towards teal, and once brought back, the image looks vibrant and natural.
Where I found the preset shines the most is street photography. High contrast brings a level of grittiness into the image, which in turn can make the image look more powerful. For example, in the image below, applying the preset and just adjusting the temperature gives a slightly more monochromatic look to the street while still keeping the reds and the yellows.
In a lot of cases, depending on the image you're applying the preset to, I found that I had to adjust either brightness or the darks to make sure I don't lose the details I was photographing and wanted to preserve.
The overall look of the preset leans towards a colder look, also based on the example images by Jungle Presets, but I actually found that I preferred the look this preset gives on slightly warmer images as per the examples below. I felt that the lack of blues in the image actually allowed the preset to bring out that gritty street look I was aiming for.
Although I found the preset too harsh to be used on any portraiture-based work, even with adjustments, in certain neutral street scenarios, it worked well once the temperature was adjusted to ensure that the scene looked pleasing to the eye.
Because teal isn't a color we naturally find in the streets or other scenarios, it's something that needs to be adjusted, but there are situations when the blues lend to teal and give images a striking look or bring out detail that wasn't quite as evident in the unedited file, as evident in the two images below.
There are many photographers who enjoy using presets as a quick starting point, which can be helpful for beginners who want to experiment with various looks but don't necessarily know the tools to achieve them. This particular Minimal Black preset works well for scenes where it's important to bring out detail, contrast, and a level of grit.
While the blue hue slider will have to be utilized frequently to make sure that the final image looks appealing, I found this preset a quick shortcut to getting my street images to look more dramatic, while still not departing from the reality of what is depicted, which can be important for more observational street photography work. And, priced at only $5, it's an affordable preset for those who want a darker and moodier finish to their work.
The Minimal Black preset can be found on the Jungle Presets website.