Review: Matt Warrell’s Summer Lightroom Presets

Brisbane photographer Matt Warrell regularly develops and releases themed sets of Lightroom presets. Late December saw the release of his Summer set, which includes 15 presets – 13 colour and two black and white – designed to “take advantage of the beautiful tones only summer can bring“.

The presets that Matt has put together go deep into Lightroom’s develop options and adjust the hue and saturation of individual colours in the image, as well as making technical adjustments such as sharpening and grain.

This first image, of my new greyhound Gracie was processed with the Ladybeetle preset. The raw image is shown on the left, with the preset applied in the centre, and some final adjustments on the right.  Ladybeetle’s adjustments include bringing out detail from the blacks and shadows in the image (perfect for highlighting Gracie’s eyes and face in this photo), as well as some quite significant increases in clarity, vibrance and saturation. Further than that, the preset also adjusts individual colour channels, most notably the greens. For me, these HSL adjustments go a little far. Grass just isn’t that green. So, for the final image I’ve brought the green and yellow adjustments back a bit to give, to my eye, a more realistic representation.

Next up is some shots from Brisbane’s Eat Street Markets. These Goatsmilk soaps have had the Faded Cow preset applied. This setting produces the faded, vintage look popular with lifestyle and social galleries used in many venue reviews on sites like Brisbane’s The Weekend Edition. Most notably, the contrast curve is adjusted to remove blacks. Generally, I’m not a fan of this style. Blacks are OK. Important even. But on this image, which didn’t have a lot of blacks to begin with, Faded Cow produces a nice subtle shift in tone, along with some grain, which I like.

The next images of a duck salad and some New Farm Confectionary honeycomb have had the Toad preset applied. As you can see from the comparison, Toad makes some significant changes to the contrast, clarity, vibrance and saturation. It really adds some punch to the quite dull original shot. Unlike the Ladybeetle preset above, the changes to the greens in the salad leaves are a lot more realistic to my eye.

The honeycomb photos were taken as the sun was setting, producing that lovely golden light. I like the way that the Toad preset has enhanced that golden glow.

The New Farm Confectionary honeycomb is delicious too, just quietly.

The Shoes preset has been applied to the following image. This preset is quite subtle compared to some in the set, with just an adjustment to contrast through the shadows, highlights and blacks sliders, and some subtle changes to the HSL, most notably to the reds and yellows, which have both had their hue and saturation altered. Again, I like how these adjustments enhance the early evening light on the glass jars. As you can see, the Shoe preset also adds quite a bit of grain, which I think suits this style of image.

Overall Thoughts

As mentioned above, Matt aimed to produce a set of presets which take advantage of the beautiful tones only summer can bring“, and I think he has achieved that. I did find many of the presets went a little further with their adjustments than I would prefer, producing results which didn’t really match my vision. That’s personal taste though, and as long as presets are used how they should be – as a convenient, one-click starting point for finer adjustments – this set will produce some really nice results. 

You can purchase the Summer Lightroom presets from Matt Warrell for $15 here