Education
How to Edit In a Light & Airy Style in Lightroom
by Chris Daniels

The light and airy look is arguably one of the most sought after styles in the industry. For many, light and airy images inspire a sense of awe and wonder— Often followed by the feeling of frustration upon trying to achieve the look for themselves.

If that is you, then you're in luck!

Every other week, our Founder, Kirk Mastin hosts a Facebook Live Editing session to help you overcome editing challenges. In this live edit, Kirk breaks down the light and airy style and give you a checklist formula to achieve it at any time!

Using images submitted by the Mastin Labs - Community on Facebook, Kirk shows examples of the perfect image for the style, and still others that aren't quite suited for it, and why.

You can head to our Mastin Labs Facebook Page to find out about our next edit and how to submit your photos.

HOW TO GET THE PERFECT LIGHT & AIRY LOOK

Intro:

During this Live Edit, Kirk focuses on the three following groups as examples:

  • Images that have everything they need for the light and airy look.
  • Images that have a few key elements missing that make it impossible for the light and airy look.
  • Images that are almost all the way there, but need just a few improvements.

All images are edited with the Fuji Original Pack.

Fuji 400H is the definition of light and airy.

LET'S GET STARTED

(2:28)

The Light & Airy Checklist

  • Light: BACKLIT OR OPEN SHADE
  • Location: WHITE, NEUTRAL, OR VEGETATION.
  • Wardrobe: NEUTRALS, PEACH, WHITE
  • Lens: WIDE APERTURE, NORMAL TO TELEPHOTO LENGTH

The components in the checklist are far more necessary to this look than any exposure setting or preset. In fact, you can achieve the light and airy look without any preset at all, but only with the above conditions being met.

Mastin Labs will give you a true film look on the light and airy images that you create.

IMAGES THAT ARE PERFECT FOR LIGHT & AIRY:

IMAGE 1 (8:00)

  • Open shade and slightly backlit.
  • In a non-busy, neutral location.
  • Neutral wardrobe with one pop of color.
  • 85mm lens shot at f/1.6


IMAGE 2 (9:22)

  • Open shade
  • Neutral location
  • Neutral wardrove
  • 58mm lens shot at f/1.4


IMAGE 3 (10:25)

  • Evenly lit
  • White background
  • Neutral colors
  • 85mm lens shot at f/1.6


IMAGE 4 (11:38)

  • Backlit/Open Shade
  • Vegetation
  • Neutral with a pop of color
  • 50mm lens shot at f/2.2

IMAGES THAT ARE GOOD, BUT NOT QUITE THERE:

(12:56)

WHAT IS MISSING?

IMAGE 1 (13:12)

  • Side light
  • Busy Location
  • Patterned, dark wardrobe
  • 50mm lens shot at f/4.5

Ways this image could have gotten closer to light & airy:

  • Shoot at a time of day where light isn't coming from the side.
  • Find a less busy location and wardrobe.
  • Shoot more wide open.


IMAGE 2 (16:14)

  • Harsh, split lighting
  • Super busy location
  • Bold and vibrant wardrobe
  • Shot with a wide-angle lens at f/4

This is an astounding image, but it doesn't hit any of the checkmarks to be light and airy. It is instead vibrant, bold, contrasty, and full of life. And there is where it should stay because it clearly loves being there!

IMAGE 3 (19:09)

  • Open shade
  • Vegetation
  • Darker wardrobe
  • 50mm lens shot at f1.8

It's a beautiful image and almost hits all the marks, so why doesn't it work for light and airy?

She's on the same plane as the vegetation, taking away from the background separation associated with the light and airy feel.

HOW TO EDIT TO COMPLIMENT THE LIGHT & AIRY LOOK

(25:54)

You've checked all the boxes for light and airy. How do you make it perfect using presets?

Tips for The Light & Airy Edit Workflow

Before we even get into this guide, you must know that the in-camera exposure is not what makes an image light and airy. So, let go of any notion that you must overexpose. Expose normally and follow the below guidelines.

  • APPLY PRESET
  • APPLY LENS CORRECTION
  • ADJUST EXPOSURE
  • ADJUST WB/TINT
  • SELECT A TONE PROFILE (optional)
  • APPLY GRAIN (optional)

Kirk's Lightroom Exposure Tips For Light & Airy Editing:

How do you know the limit of increasing exposure? (35:16)

QUESTIONS FROM THE COMMUNITY

When is the best time to do a backlit image? (21:51)

Any time the sun is low enough to be no higher than 45º above your subject. Any high than 45º and you get a very hot sky and more hazy/harsh light on your subject.


How would you shoot a family of 4 at a wide-open aperture and keep everyone in focus? (22:33)

Shooting with a longer lens changes the plane of focus, allowing you to shoot more wide open and still have the blurry background. Just make sure that all of the subjects are in the same plane of focus.

What is Kirk’s recommendation for shooting in harsh light? (24:50)

Don't shoot in harsh light if you can help it. Place your subject in open shade and face them towards the light.

What is Kirk’s recommendation for shooting in harsh light? (24:50)

Don't shoot in harsh light if you can help it. Place your subject in open shade and face them towards the light.


Thoughts on sharpening and noise reduction for this look: (47:46)

  • No noise reduction. The best solution to noise is to try not to shoot at super high ISO. Especially over 800.
  • Sharpening is left at the default. For exporting, Kirk exports for screen at "medium" and print at the "low" setting.
  • Make sure that the bulk of the midtones are exposed correctly. If the subjects look correct, then it's great. Let the sky go where it needs to go. This may mean that you don't have sky detail in some cases, and that's okay. It's just a personal aesthetic choice.
  • Another way to be aware of exposure is the "J Trick." Press the 'J' key while in the Develop module and Lightroom will highlight and pure white with a red overlay.

That's it for today. We do a new Live Edit every 2 weeks, so be sure to join us on the next one!

During our Live Edits, Kirk edits photos submitted by the Mastin Labs Community on Facebook, head to our Mastin Labs Facebook Page to find out about our next edit and how to submit your photos.

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