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Get your CHIC on with our Celebrity Photographers who inspire, teach, and critique to help increase confidence and improve your images!


Guest Contributor | Rachel Nielsen


How to Quickly Sharpen Your Photos in Lightroom

I use Lightroom at the beginning of my workflow and normally sharpen in Photoshop as my last step. But sometimes I need to just use Lightroom for a super quick edits and that is when I use sharpening in Lightroom instead of in Photoshop.

Here is my screenshot of Lightroom 5. The circled area is where the sharpening controls are at. (in the Details panel)




There are 4 sliders in the sharpening section in the Detail module.

The first one is the amount slider. This is the overall strength of the sharpening effect. Lightroom defaults this setting to 25 and it ranges from 0 to 150. The higher the number, the more sharpening will happen.

The second slider is the radius. This is basically controls how fine of detail is going to be sharpened. The larger the number, the larger the radius. If you go too big, you will get a halo effect, so don’t get too carried away! ;) The default is 1.0.

The third slider is the detail slider. This will help reduce the overall halo effect. This one works backwards with the numbers. If you have the slider up at 100 (it goes from 0-100), no reduction in the halo effect. If it is set at 0, you will not have any halo. The default is 25.

The fourth slider is like the third. It masks out the overall sharpening effect. The higher the number, the more masking will occur. The default on this slider is 0.

Now, of course, I will let you know what settings I prefer to make this even easier!

I like to keep the amount around 50-86, the radius anywhere from 0.6-1.3, and detail from 22-30 and the masking from 0-49. These are definitely not perfect settings for all images, but it should help give you an idea of possibly where to be. It definitely depends on each image.

Once you find the settings that work for your editing style, make sure to save them as your own Lightroom Preset. To make your own preset in the Develop Module, make sure you have all of your settings where you would like them and then look over on the right hand side and you will see a tab that says ‘Presets’. Click on the + sign right next to the word Presets.




Once you have clicked on the + sign, a box will pull up with different options available. Make sure that you have every box checked that applies to the settings you are saving. Also, you can see the words highlighted in blue at the top of the box. That is where you name your Preset and right below that, you can choose what group you would like it to be saved in. I tend to put my favorite presets all in the same group – so pick the one that works best for your workflow. Click create when you are done and you will now see it in the group you saved it to.

The last step is to make sure you open your presets folder and make a backup copy of the preset you just created. Now you will be able to apply these quick sharpening settings with one click!

Lightroom is always a quick and easy way to sharpen your images to speed up your workflow. I hope this tutorial helps you do just that!

Rachel-Nielsen-bio-250px Hi, I’m Rachel. I am a modern wedding photographer based in Salt Lake City, Utah. I love my supportive hubby, chasing our very energetic 5 little ones and staying up late to read every night. You can usually (okay, always) bribe me with hot tamales, a Diet Coke and a great movie. I have an on-going love affair with Photoshop (which started in early 2007) and almost love it as much as I love taking photos. Almost. I also teach online Lightroom, Photoshop, and Photoshop Elements tutorials called Digital Darkroom Secrets.

Rachel Nielsen Photography / Workshops / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest / Instagram





Chic Critique is so excited to have Emily Lucarz from Emily Lucarz Photography  as a Celebrity Photographer in May!

She will be offering a BUSINESS CRITIQUE!

Sign up to have your business critiqued by Emily this May!  Only 10 seats left!

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Emily’s work has been described as “timeless pieces of art”. She is known for her ability to capture raw moments when they occur without forced posing. Always shooting wide open, her work is light and airy but still maintains rich undertones. She has a unique ability to use all types of natural light to produce soft yet dramatic portraits. She has described herself as a sun seeker as she is always searching for the most beautiful light. Emily has been published in numerous online magazines, billboards and blogs across the country. Recently asked to be a contributor for the Click-in Moms Pro-Random House charity book to be sold, her work and tutorial will be featured in the natural light section of the book, for photographers to learn grow from. Emily teaches sold out workshops to budding photographers around the world, and is the creator of the Dream in Color/black and white as well as Enchantment, Photoshop and Elements action sets.

Emily resides in the St. Louis area with her family. Her love for people, extremely happy disposition and love for helping all photographers grow and learn, has made her into one of the most approachable photographers in the business. She’s thrilled to be able to teach others what she has learned in the photography and business world.


A WELCOME from Emily:

I am SO thrilled you have decided to come join me for some fun! I can’t wait to get to know each of you better and help you grow so you can produce your vision :)


Emily, what camera do you use and what is your favorite lens?

D4 and D700 My favorite lens is the 85mm 1.4 but more recently the 16mm Fisheye!


Do you edit mostly in Photoshop or Lightroom?



Why do you think honest critique on your images is important?

We all started off as beginners. None of us were AMAZING when we first picked up our camera. It would be a shame if all the classes we take, all the time and money we invest into our craft, is for nothing. There are SO many classes out there. So many workshops. But what is not prevalent enough, is constructive criticism, or critiquing. Everyone has room to grow, even advanced professionals. Having another opinion, or some constructive criticism, is critical for professional and personal growth.

When we hear the word criticism, we initially think “bad”. Criticism is a much different word than critique. Finding someone in your industry to give you a STRONG critique, to help you appreciate YOUR art, learn from what your mistakes are and help you to create YOUR vision, is lacking in the industry. It’s so important and it makes me SO happy to be able to help photographers grow in a way that they see their vision expand though art.

All of our art and visions are different. It’s what makes different art stand out. People should shy away from the constant approval and “bravos” of peers as well as constant “likes” on Facebook. It’s easy to click a like button. Be your own skeptic. Most are afraid to gently critique. There is nothing more necessary than honest criticism.

On a side note, everyone has to remember that one person can critique your work, but it’s just one person. That’s just their opinion of your work. Making sure you trust your source for constructive criticism is key.


One of my first family newborn images I sent to be judged for a competition was of two parents and a newborn. It was beautiful in color, perfect exposure, I thought it was fabulous. Well, they told me it looked like they were falling off the earth! Ever since then, those words stick in my mind. I have since seen the same pose by SO many photographers. You know, then ones of the mom and dad lying on the ground with the newborn. Yep, apparently everyone’s falling off the earth :) Since then, I shoot at a different angle :) 

What 3 words would you use to describe your style?

Real, ethereal but fun 


Where do you pull your inspiration from?

I try to get most of my inspiration from each client. Sounds boring I know. But when we photograph children, we want to photograph that CHILD. What is the child interested in. What fun faces does he make. How does he interact with his surroundings. Those are all moments that the parents will want captured. I also pull from the interaction within the family. Families don’t see themselves from the outside like we all do. The way they look at each other. The way the sun hits mom hair bouncing onto her child to create something magical. All that to me is inspiration.

When I photograph for myself, I try to shoot in as many types of light as I can. I pull from the color I see occurring at the moment to create the shot. I don’t allow my camera to tell me what needs to be done, I look at how the world looks at that moment, and capture it as is.


What is one specific way that you balance work and family?

This is a never ending battle for me. I still have yet to figure it out. When you photograph so many newborns, it’s hard to pick certain days to work, get childcare (aka Grandma) etc. I only shoot sunset outside so I do have set days I shoot. Two full days a week I edit, then throw in my newborns when they decide to arrive. I have been TRYING to not work at night, but when busy season is happening, it’s pretty difficult. Plus, I am SO blessed to be able to be in a job where I am home with my two little boys, that I just kind of deal with the craziness so I can spend time with them. Once they are in school, I will have more of a set schedule. Now as for my poor husband, ONE day I will have time to cook him dinner again… day :)

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Best biz/photo advice?

To try EVERYTHING. If you like shooting into the sun, try it! If you think dramatic black and whites are cool, go for it! You won’t know if you like something until you try. If you decide it was not for you, move on and try something that IS you. I tried SO many types of editing, so many types of shots, different lenses, different poses, etc. until I found ME. Not anyone else. I know what I love now, because I was not scared to try. Also, I shoot what I love. I stay true to what I love but I am not scared to try new things.


What have you learned the hard way?

That starting a business takes a massive toll on your family life. Everyone thinks all we do is pick up a camera, take some shots, send them off to our clients. Running a photography business is insanely crazy. I jumped in with two feet and took off swimming, but I messed some stuff up on the way. That’s for SURE! :) Such as, I started off WAY too cheap. I was WAY over worked and got burnt out. Now I am priced more appropriately and don’t dread one single second of what I do. Ever. There is so much I wish I could have told myself, as me now, when I started.


How does your business deal with the rise in photographers. What have you done to standout and compete?

My business has really been affected by the rise in photographers. Sadly, there are many people out there buying nice cameras and becoming photographers over night without training, while shooting on auto and charging penny’s. It’s creating a false sense to consumers that stand out and excellent photographers are over priced. It’s a touchy subject because we were all there at one point. We all start somewhere and it’s our job as the more advanced photographers to help educate the new ones so the industry does not go downhill. Here in St. Louis, there is a HUGE group of new photographers and not quite as many of the ones who have perfected their craft and been around awhile. We (the ones whom have been in the industry a bit longer) have all sort of united here to keep our prices even so we are not competing for best price, but allowing consumers choose us for the style they like the best. Not everyone can afford higher end custom photography. There is a need for ALL types of photographers. What I do, is do the best work that I can do and just hope someone out there appreciates it :) I won’t change to be what someone else would want me to be :)

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Where have most of your 2013/2014 clients come from (besides WOM)?

Facebook! I have to say, as much criticism as Facebook gets, I think it has given small business a boost.


What has been the best workshop or convention you’ve attended so far?

Honestly, the FIRST class I took was in 2010 after my son was born. I wanted to learn how to use my camera. Amy Tripple had recently started her photography classes, and she gave me the excitement to really do this. I was full blown shooting 6 months after I learned how to use my camera and I give her so much credit for teaching newbies like I was. Hence why I now do it too. Why have a fancy camera if you don’t even know how to use it! :)


What is your most popular product?



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Guest Contributor | Leslie Vega





LeslieVega_ChicCritiqueForum Inspiring quotes by Leslie Vega for Chic Critique
Leslie Vega is a seasoned brand designer for photographers and wedding professionals. She founded Leslie Vega Design in 2008 and has been creating breathtaking brands for clients across the globe ever since. From logos to stationery and beautiful web presences, her passion exudes in her work and in her client experience. View her work at
Leslie Vega
Leslie Vega Design, LLC
Brand Design for Photographers & Wedding Professionals
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