I love this particular look. It is reminiscent of one of those solemn autumn scenes that we have seen in countless Hollywood movies. You could almost sense as if the hero has just left his lady love and for a journey to a distant land on some voyage or war, probably never to come back again. Creating this effect takes a bit of work. But there is nothing rocket science in here.
– Without changes
We start with the basic adjustments first. Scroll down to check Enable Profile Corrections and Remove Chromatic Aberrations. These two takes care of any barrel distortions or Chromatic Aberrations in the image.
Next scroll all the way up to the Basic Panel. Here we have a few things to tweak. First is the White Balance Adjustment. This is crucial. Depending on how you have shot this image you will need to may be slide the slider to the extreme left to make it warmer and golden enough for that late Autumn afternoon look. Keep the White Balance to around 5000. A nice round number.
Move over to the Tint Slider. Push it to round about negative 20. There is a nice warm orange yellow effect to the whole image. Slightly over the top. But that is how it is.
We need to pull down the Highlights all the way down to negative 100 to ensure that the sky isn’t blown out. There is an important reason why we are doing this and it is because of the Letterbox effect that we need to give to the image at a later stage.
Shadows can be pushed up a bit depending on the image. I like to keep at around +30. Tweak the Whites and Blacks to ensure that they are in the middle ground. Neither too bright nor too dark.
The Clarity Slider needs to be tweaked ever so slightly. The Clarity slider increases the overall sharpness of the image, removing any haze etc. Pull it too much to the left and the image will appear like a painting. Push it too much to the right and it will appear as if the image is exceptionally sharp and unreal. Do not touch the Clarity slider unless you absolutely have to.
Push the Vibrance slider to the right. Keep it around 85 so as to get the Vibrance right. Saturation can be pulled down all the way to negative 60. Remember the whole purpose of this workflow is to make the image appear cinematic. That subtle low contrast, demure cinematic look.
Get into Tone Curve and use the following values – Highlights +20, darks +5 and Shadows about -70. Leave Lights alone.
Move to Split Toning. Dial in the following figures for Highlights Hue 65, Saturation 21 and for Shadows Hue 324 and Saturation 21.
Sharpening needs to be increased, despite having already worked on the Clarity slider before this. Sharpening will get the details spiced up a bit. But Sharpening sliders can easily add a lot of artefacts to the image. Slide the Amount slider to about 65 and check how the results look with your image. Set Radius to 1.2 and Detail to 20.
You may have to do a bit of Noise Reduction as well, depending on whether and how much of noise there was in the image to start off. Keep Luminance Noise Reduction to about 20. Pushing it too high will result in loss of detail.
Now, a key aspect of this cinematic look is the letterbox effect. To achieve this effect you will need to use the Graduated Filter tool in Lightroom. This needs a bit of work. Step is to Click on the Graduated Filter icon in Lightroom. Now hold the Shift key, click on a point on the image where you want the letterbox effect to start and then gently drag it upwards.
Repeat the process for the bottom of the image as well. You can right click on the top Filter effect and Duplicate it. Flip that Duplicate effect and then drag it to position at the bottom of the image.
Pull down the exposure all the way to negative 4. Increase Contrast all the way to 100. Bring down Highlights, Shadows, Whites and Blacks all the way to negative 100. Click Done. Voila! Your cinematic effect is ready.
The whole effect requires about 7 minutes of editing time or less. But the effect is super-cool. If you have a large number of these images to be rendered this effect, such as when creating a time-lapse video, I recommend using this preset that can make light work of the whole workload.