Review: New Totally Rad Lightroom ‘Effects’ Presets Add Visual Interest to Photographs

A Review of Doug Boutwell’s Totally Rad Lightroom Presets ‘Effects’ – Number 3 in a Series of 4 Reviews


In my previous two reviews about the new Totally Rad Lightroom Presets,  I discussed the Basics and Black & White presets. This review will focus on the Effects presets. As mentioned in those earlier posts, these presets are offered by Doug Boutwell through Totally Rad in four sections; the Basics, Black & White, Effects and Vignettes and Toning.

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All photographs in this review were taken by me. Other than the Totally Rad Lightroom Presets, they have had no other Lightroom or Photoshop adjustments. I show each image straight out of the camera, and then follow with a series of image versions which show the different effects achieved with various preset combinations.

As with the Black & White review, most images are the result of first running some presets from the Basics section and then adding Effects.


In my earlier reviews I clicked a lot. This time, to keep my mind limber and receptive, I did a Bathroom Cleaning Mediation before beginning. This is similar, yet different, from the Zen practice of chopping wood and carrying water. Other than that, I still clicked a lot and paid attention to the results. Per usual, I wrote copious notes in my trusty Wonder Woman notebook.


This first image was taken in Fort Pickens on Santa Rosa Island in Pensacola, Florida. I shot it with one of my favorites cameras, a Canon PowerShot A590IS. These little cameras have a fantastic wide angle lens that can be tilted off axis with some stunning results. Reminder to self: do tutorial on how to ROCK point and shoots with wide angle lenses.

Back to the topic at hand. Here is the image straight out of the camera. I would love to see SOMEONE do a fashion shoot in this location:

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First I ran it through the Basics, using Highlight Hero/Strong and Electric Skies/Lite. Then I added a combination of Eddie Would Go/Strong and Golden Age/Strong to produce the effect below. There is a lovely, soft and warm glow about the image. So many of the presets in this section remind me of movies I have seen. I expect the spiritual ‘savior’ of your choice to walk through these doors at any moment:

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I always struggle with giving up detail in an image. All that softness comes with a price; loss of detail. So I returned to the Basic’s and added A Beginning/Strong to this image. I really like how this added more black to the overall image and made the shadows more distinct:

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The last thing I did was add one of the five different choices of vignettes offered with these presets, in this case Raphael. They are in the last section of these presets I will be reviewing – Vignettes and Toning. I really LOVE the depth and texture this particular vignette added. Once again, I am reminded of a movie and I refer to this as the 300 look. I could totally see Leonidas striding vigorously through that door.

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My next image was taken outside in natural light with my trusty Nikon D70 (an comparable substitute would be the D90 or D300) with a 50mm f/1.4 lens. This is the image straight out of the camera. Overall, it’s pretty good. Exposure is spot on and color balance is pleasingly neutral, although the contrast is a bit flat:

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I started with the Basics (A Beginning/Lite and Auto/Brightness), then went to the Effects and selected Friendly Confines/Strong. The result was bright, golden and a bit contrasty. There is a noticeable color shift towards yellow and it shows mostly in the hair. That said, I really like it in all its bright liveliness.

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If warm and fuzzy is not your cup of tea, not to fear. Just hit the skids. Or at least the Skid Row effect. Here I used it set to medium and got instant ‘corpse-ification’ (and cue quote from Joss Whedon’s Firefly “Here lies Zoe, my autumn flower, somewhat less attractive now that she’s all corpse-ified and gross.” ) Now my secret is out; I’m a complete sci-fi NERD. But back to the subject at hand. The Skid Row effect still falls well within the desaturated color and inky blacks of the earlier mentioned 300 look.

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For a desaturated look that is a bit warmer and less harsh, I undid the Skid Row preset, then used Sweating Bullets/Strong. The blacks and shadows are still blocked, but the skin tones are warmer. It is an interesting effect.

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The last image in my line up was also taken outside in natural light with that same D70 and 50mm f/1.4 lens. Here it is straight out of the camera. Much like the image above, it is basically good to go. A little flat, contrast wise, but still quite acceptable:

totally rad lightroom presets review image 17E

First, the Basics ( Auto/Tone, Auto/White Balance, Brightside/Lite, and Highlight Hero/Lite). Lovely really, isn’t it? The image now has more snap and pop. The skin tones are warmer, cheeks rosier, eyes livelier and the contrast level has come up. Altogether a fully ‘finished’ image, good for delivery to the client or customer:

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However, this review is all about the Effects, so lets get some effects up in this house.  I selected the Golden Age preset set to medium. The result was a very soft and gently warm toned image. Of course, you do lose detail when you basically added a big jolt of yellow into the ‘filter pack’ on your ‘enlarger’. That’s old school speak from back when we printed ‘photographs’ onto paper in a ‘dark room’. Which we rode to in our horse and buggy. Anyway, it is a nice effect, but I’d like to see something a bit snappier.

totally rad lightroom presets review image 10E

So I put it in full reverse and went back to the Basics and added Auto/Tone. That brightened things up a bit. Actually I really like this one. It’s soft and warmly reminiscent of ads shot back in the late 1960s and early 1970s by Sarah Moon:

totally rad lightroom presets review image 11E

Finally, I wanted to use the desaturated look in a less extreme way. I undid the Golden Age preset and applied Sweating Bullets/Strong and the Basics preset Brightside/Lite. The result is just slightly desaturated:

totally rad lightroom presets review image 9E


The Effects presets are a fast and easy way to create some of the more trendy looks currently hot in photography. They play well with the Basics used either as a foundation or as a supplement after the fact.


I admit I’m not so much into the ‘degraded, color shifted snapshots ripped out of some random family’s beat up album from the 1960s and 70s’ look. I realize mine is most likely the minority opinion on this matter. Entire recent photography careers have been launched and propelled with these types of effects. That said, I suppose it isn’t really a drawback, if you like these types of effects. Besides, they come bundled in with all the other presets, which I am totally happy with.


I don’t personally care for these presets for people photography. However, they do have fantastic potential for landscape, architectural and product shots and I will be using them for such.

In my next and final review of the Totally Rad Lightoom Presets, I will be discussing the Vignettes & Toning section.

Review: Totally Rad's RadLab software makes photo editing simple and easy.

If you would like to read more, check out these articles:

Review: New Lightroom Presets From Totally Rad Really Deliver

Review: Totally Rad Lightroom Black & White Presets Produce Glorious Images

Review: New Lightroom Presets From Totally Rad Really Deliver

High Key Studio Lighting – Tutorial

Low Key Portrait Lighting – Tutorial

Outdoor Portraiture – Overcoming Challenges

Depth of Field – Photography Tutorial

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  1. you sold me at ‘corpse-ified’! love anyone who can quote firefly – great review.

  2. deborahwolfe says

    Ya know Nic, the ‘verse would be a much lonelier place without Mr. Whedon and all of us Whedonettes….Whedonites…..Wheirdos…….well, you know what I mean ; )