Mastin Labs designed its Lightroom presets and Capture One styles specifically to make your editing life as easy as possible. There can be a bit of a learning curve, but we have a simple process that, once you get the hang of it, will give you great results. We call it our “3-Step Workflow,” and it can help you breeze through your editing to-do’s without compromise, and with no tweaks required.
1. Choose the right preset/Apply the preset
Based on real films, Mastin Labs preset packs align with their namesake film stocks. Like the original films, the presets have characteristics that make them more or less suited for different scenarios. For instance, the Fujicolor Original pack is the go-to for “light and airy” shooters, while the Portra Pushed pack is preferred among the “dark and moody” crowd.
Also, the subject’s skin tone can help pinpoint the best preset to use - dark skin tones are a good match with all the Fujicolor packs and Adventure Everyday Original, and the Portra packs are ideal for adding warmth to pale skin, but they can make dark skin look too warm. Whatever pack and skin tone combination you’re working with, you can fine-tune skin with the white balance and tint slider, which you’ll hear more about in step three.
Once you’ve selected a preset, click it, and move on to step two.
2. Adjust Exposure
Mastin Labs presets were made to emulate more than just the color tones of film; they change the way a digital file behaves. Digital shooters know all about blown-out highlights, and we keep our eyes open for clipping because we know when the highlights are gone, they’re gone. 35mm negative film works in reverse of digital in that highlight data is more easily retained, while shadows are what you’ve got to watch. Ansel Adams said, “expose for the shadows; develop for the highlights.” If you turn on exposure warnings (in Lightroom, you can do this with the “J” key and in Capture One, use “Cmd/Ctrl + E”) and then apply a preset, you’ll notice that most clipped highlights will immediately have detail.
However, other changes in this process can make the image look darker, so many edits will require an exposure bump after applying the preset. Sometimes, the exposure increase needed will feel heavy-handed, but it will look good. Exposure after applying the preset is one area we commonly see new users get stuck as they’re learning to use Mastin Labs presets. Don’t be shy with the exposure slider after you apply a Mastin Labs preset. If you turn on exposure warnings, you’ll see that the brightest parts of the image do retain detail as you boost exposure, thanks to the film emulation design.
3. Adjust White Balance/Tint
Once you’ve got your exposure dialed in, it’s time to move on to white balance. Sometimes, the color looks right precisely how you shot it after applying a preset, but often you’ll need to make adjustments using the white balance and tint sliders. The white balance settings that come with Mastin Labs presets are designed to get you in the ballpark, but environmental factors that alter colors in the photo can make it challenging to provide a one-size-fits-all solution.
You can start by choosing the white balance setting that most closely describes the scenario your photo was shot in, and adjust from there. If there’s a strong color cast, it will be obvious what needs to be changed, but there are some tricks that can help you with more subtle adjustments.
First, always keep an eye on skin tones. When things go wrong with white balance, skin tones can be a tell, since you are used to looking at people and can pick up on skin colors looking “off” even if you can’t quite put your finger on why you feel that way.
Zooming in to isolate an area of the subject’s skin can aid in editing for skin tones since it eliminates visual interplay with other colors in the scene. Sometimes, though, when you zoom out again, the rest of the image will have a color cast. In cases like that, you can “split the difference” - find a middle ground where both skin and surroundings look acceptable to you.
Parts of a scene that you know should be neutral can be a useful giveaway for slight color casts. If you know something should look grey, black, or white, but it appears a little green, you know you’ve got to reduce greens in the tint slider.
Optional Steps: Apply Lens Correction and Use Tone Profiles
In addition to the film presets and white balance settings, Mastin Labs preset packs also include tone profiles that replicate settings on a Frontier film scanner and a one-click lens correction setting. The lens correction setting instantly removes lens distortion and vignetting from any lens that Lightroom has profiled.
Tone profiles apply changes to the highlights, shadows, or both while leaving the overall exposure alone. You can learn everything you need to know about them here.