Documentary Preset by


This Documentary preset is best for taking an artistic representation of real-life moments. It mutes colors but tints shadows to make captures even more expressive. We especially designed this preset for documentaries, journalism, film, reporting, portraiture, and even street photography.

Collection: Urban Presets, Black and White Presets, HDR Presets
Best for: Photojournalism, Street Photography, Headshots
Style: Balanced Black and White, Warm Grays, High Contrast

We love how this isn’t just a regular black and white preset. You will notice in our examples below how expressive the preset’s tones are, and how the contrast expresses so much emotion and meaning. If you want to draw attention to the elements of your image, especially to what is going on in the moment or the features of a face, this is one of the presets that you can consider. It really is a powerful aesthetic.

Increases the Contrast of Tones for a Dramatic Effect

Documentary Preset - desert sky

Dramatic Black and White. As with all monochrome styles, the tones primarily set the mood. High contrast tones are bolder in look and feel, while a narrowed range would be soft and tender. For this preset, we created a contrasty look but without overdoing it.

We do this by first increasing the brightness of all tonal regions except black. We then temper the intensity of the blacks based on the initial results. The effect is exactly what you see in the above After photo: rich grays, bright whites, and accentuated blacks. Notice, too, how we preserve a lot of detail.

Emphasizes Midtones and Details in Photojournalism

Documentary Preset - Indonesian veteran

A Focus on What Matters. This example is particularly stunning. Just look at how this Documentary preset transforms the shot. The After photo now emphasizes the man’s features and expression. This is partly because of our midtone enhancements, including an increase in clarity. There is just much more definition now.

This is what you get when photographing portraits. The image becomes compelling. Aside from the improved details, the added warm gray tint helps amplify the emotions as well. The overall result is simply artistic.

The preset works even better when used as a filter across multiple photos, in an album, or even an Instagram feed.

Draws Attention to the Subject and Moment

Documentary Preset - general strike

Engaging Documentaries. When covering news or creating social commentaries, it is important to underscore the significance of a specific moment. We, therefore, create a look that can grab attention, both in look and feel.

We keep this in mind when blending tones, enhancing details, and tweaking color levels (how the preset converts colors into grayscale). We combine all these elements and make them as expressive as possible. Just look at the example above. The resulting image now looks bolder and full of meaning.

Extracts and Sharpens Textures

Documentary Preset - missionary

Crisp Textures. We know how important details are, especially textures, in black and white. Without colors, the photos’ expressiveness becomes dependent on tone and texture. This is why we extract the textures and sharpen them; more importantly, and especially in documentaries or photojournalism, this adjustment adds another dimension to the captured reality.

Documentary preset is for Lightroom Mobile, Desktop, and…

Like all our presets, you can absolutely use Documentary as is, right out of the box. With any preset you might need to make adjustments to accommodate your specific camera, settings, lighting and subject matter.

If you need more presets like this, you can also view our collections of black and white presets or urban presets.

  • Entirely Adjustable
  • Compatible with Lightroom 4, 5, 6 and CC
  • Performs with both PC, Mac and Mobile
  • Applicable to both RAW and JPG images
  • 100% Free

Free Lightroom Preset by

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