One of my favorite effects in Photoshop plug-ins is the Tonal Contrast effect. onOne Software’s Perfect Effects has it, and Nik has it as well. But I know that lots of people still don’t use 3rd party plug-ins, so I set out to try to recreate the effect in Lightroom. After trying a bunch of different combinations I think I came pretty close.
Now, there’s definitely something in the “special sauce” that the plug-in companies use. So if you have the plug-ins (or are thinking of getting one), I’d still use them. Given the choice, I’d use the Perfect Effects Tonal Contrast effect before I’d ever use the one that I have here. But for those that don’t, this is a great alternative to help get that gritty/edgy/contrasty look right in Lightroom. Plus, as you can see below, it works on all kinds of photos – from portraits to travel to just about anything. As usual, there’s 3 different versions (Light, Medium, Strong).
NOTE: I’m going to put my usual HDR disclaimer here too, because I find that tonal contrast effects have a similar HDR-ish feel to them. So, here goes: If HDR (or tonal contrast) is the kind of thing that incites anger and criticism from you, then these presets aren’t for you. Don’t download, don’t try them out and don’t leave a negative comment on how HDR (or tonal contrast) is *******izing photography and how everyone that uses it is a horrible person

Here’s a few samples. You really have to try the presets out though, since they don’t show up as well when the images are small.

Hope you enjoy. Have a good one!