Portraits with Ashley

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You have reached the archive of articles posted on my personal blog. This blog is no longer updated, but you can read my latest articles at my new website The Creative Photographer and find my photography ebooks at my new store.

Thanks for reading! Andrew.

Natural light portrait processed in Lightroom

It’s winter here in Wellington and the weather hasn’t been conducive for portrait photography over the last month or so. I have several portrait projects to pick up again as the weather improves, but this week I’d like to share with you some more photos of Ashley.

These photos are from an impromptu shoot in July. We both had a day free so we went to a local beach to create some portraits. I didn’t have a fixed idea as to what I wanted to achieve in advance. All I knew is that I wanted to make the most of the location. I kept my gear simple. I used an 85mm f1.8 lens and natural light, and Ashley’s boyfriend helped us out by holding a reflector.

The real creativity came in post-production. One result of buying Lightroom Develop Presets and plug-ins to explore and write about in my ebooks is that now I have too many of them. It’s hard to get to know one well when I’m darting around between them all. Some of this uncertainty is down to the wide choice, and the rest not being totally sure how to make the judgement when I am over-processing photos (highly subjective whoever makes it).

Natural light portrait processed in Lightroom

There’s a lot to be said for keeping things simple – buying one good set of Develop Presets and one good plug-in suite and learning how to get the best from them.

But…now I have so many options I intend to use them and push my processing skills in new directions.

I processed these portraits in Lightroom using VSCO Film 5 presets. I will do a full review on these presets at some point but for now I can report that even though they are relatively expensive I feel that they’re well worth the money. It’s a new way of processing photos and one I like a lot and am getting good results with.

As I processed these portraits I went for a blue colour cast and a dark, moody feel. It’s nearly cinematic, and suited the range of expressions that Ashley gave me. Some of these photos could be stills from a movie or television program. A new direction to try? Maybe. I will experiment a bit further with the idea of creating a cinematic feel in future shoots. Meanwhile, enjoy the photos.

Natural light portrait processed in Lightroom

I wrote a bit more about this shoot in a previous article The Photographer’s Tools (Getting more out of Lightroom). And if you’re curious to see what else can be achieved with VSCO film presets, then take a look at Mitchell Kanashkevich’s article Summer in Braslav. He used VSCO film presets (although I don’t know which ones) to process the images in this beautiful photo essay.

Natural light portrait processed in Lightroom

Natural light portrait processed in Lightroom


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5 Responses to “Portraits with Ashley”

  1. Tim says:

    Thanks Andrew, really like these shots, I obviously gravitate towards low key as these created a very positive response. Makes a difference from the high key backlit portraits that seem so in vogue at the moment. Mind you I may have a different perspective once summer finally returns…


  2. Hi Andrew,

    Impressive images with a wonderful colour toning.
    Can you give us a hint which one of the numerouus VSCO film 5 presets you used for these images? 🙂

    Thanks in advance,

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