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How To Edit In Lightroom: Quality Simple Guide

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How To Edit In Lightroom: Quality Simple Guide

Hello Explorers! Today I bring you this sweet blog “How to Edit in Lightroom: The basics.”

Here I will be explaining you the key elements of Lightroom and how to use them. Besides, I’ll share with you my editing workflow.

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Edit in Lightroom: A Clean Library For Smooth Editing

The library is the place where you can organize, rank and select images. I highly recommend you to keep an organized library. Over the years you start accumulating photos, and it can end up being a real pain to surf between thousands of pictures!

To organize them, I mostly use two methods:

1.- Folders: it is the folder in your computer -or hard drive- where you have your images. It is fundamental to have well-structured folders.

I organize my images in the following way:

  1. Year
  2. Month
  3. Location
  4. Day
  5. Camera (if using more than one camera)
Organizing your images in folders
The way I organize my folders Year> Month > Location > Day > Camera
But what would happen if you would like to have a folder about street photography of all your shoots?

Instead of creating a new picture and mixing images here and there (that’d be a real pain in the…) you can create collections.

2.- Collection is a set of photographies that have a relationship. In order to create it, you can create them in the “+” button at the side of “collections.”

The best thing about them is that you can create smart collections. You can keyword photographies according to an attribute and gathered them in a collection.

Step by step on how to make a smart collection

As we say before, I have my folders structured by years, but what if I’d like to see all my street photographies regardless of the year?

I can create a keyword “street photography” for all the images related to this topic. Then, I’d create the “street photography” collection that will include all the keywords “street photography”, and there you got it!

Now you have a well-organized library with quick access to every image you might want!

Collection in Lightroom room organizing photos
Quickly created a collection that filters all images that have “cityscape” keyword. This way I can see cityscape pictures from Chicago, Santiago and Cusco from different years. (2019, 2017, 2020 respectively)
Suggested Read: How To Photography: 20 Tips For Excellent Results

Edit in Lightroom: The Developer’s Tab

This is where the magic happens as here is where you edit your images. The develop tab has different sections that can you can find at the right side.

Histogram

It is one of the best tools you can have when you edit in Lightroom as it will show you how well -or not- exposed your image is. As a general rule, you don’t want to have your images with “peaking” areas, that’s why you want to protect highlights and shadows to not miss information.

This histogram shows us that the image is well balanced. No highlights (right side of the image) is overexposed and now shadows (left side of the histogram) are underexposed.

Histogram In Lightroom

Basics Tab

As the name suggests, here is where you can adjust the basics settings of your image (some of these concepts can get extremely complicated, so will try to keep it simple):

  • White Balance: every picture has different tints, and this is what allows you to make your image look natural. The simple way to get it is how cold or warm your image looks. A snowy image should be colder than one in the desert, right?.
  • Tint: Same as cold and warmth, the light has hues. For example, sunset is towards purple. This one is complicated, so just think of it of how purple or green you want your image to look.
  • Exposure: It is all about how much light your image has. It can be too much, too little or well exposed. If it is the first one, then it is an overexposed image, if it is the second, it will be an underexposed one. Ideally, you always want a well-exposed image.
  • Contrast: difference in colour and luminance that allows you to detect better -or not- an object of the image.

When it comes to highlights and whites (also for shadows and blacks), they control the brightest (darkest) tones of your image. The difference is that whites (darks) set the white (dark) point and highlights (shadows) “works” under it.

  • Presence includes texture, clarity and dehaze. All of them are effects to create sharpness or smoothness in different ways. I would always play with them to see what comes out of them. Recommendation! Overdoing them can produce some ugly results
  • Vibrance: affects muted colours (I use this often)
  • Saturation: Affects the overall saturation of the colours (almost never used it)

Tone Curve Tab

Beginners often tend not to mess up with the tone curve, but I’d suggest you do ti. The tone curve allows you to introduce more contrast and, if needed, include more of a specific colour in your image.

Somehow -I am not able to explain it properly why, but that’s why you need to work with it!- contrast produced by Tone Curves is different than the contrast slider in the “Basic Panel”. I think it is a colour contrasts rather an “overall contrast”. Results generally tend to be better looking and more “refine” images. That’s why I’d always suggest you to use Tone Curve rather than Contrast Slider.

Moreover, what I tend to do, is to reduce contrast slider to create contrast purely in the Tone Curve.

HSL Tab

HSL Tab is critical as it will allow you to create a particular style. Here is where you change each colour, affecting your image locally. 

This local adjustment is why rarely use saturation and vibrancy in the basic panel as I adjust it here.

Split Toning

It allows you to introduce a specific colour to your image. You do so by locally affecting the highlights or the shadows

Detail

An essential tab especially if you plan on printing your pictures as it will allow you to give that extra sharpness to your image.

Personally, I have never found a unique formula that works for every image. That’s why I always spend some time playing the sliders to see what comes out. (Be sure to zoom the image to see how is affecting!)

Fine adjustments of details in Lightroom

Lens Correction

Allows you to correct problems such as chromatic aberration and lens correction. These happen as there is always a glass between the light and the sensor which creates diffraction. 

I always do enable “remove chromatic” aberration. However, for lens correction I see either it looks better or not.

Transform

Allows you to correct perspective issues. I don’t use it that often, but I always give it a try. Depending on the result, I see if I include it or not. However, this is a handy tab for interior photography where you need to correct perspective issues produced by the lens.

Effects

For me, the main slider here is the vignette but, I often prefer making my vignettes with radial filters.

Calibration

Allows you to play with tones and saturation. This is great to accomplish that “Teal and Orange” look. (Boost Saturation and bring the blue slider a bit to the left)

Local adjustments

Spot Removal: an excellent tool to remove dust in the sensor. While this is an excellent tool, I’d recommend you to use it just for spots.

If you are planning on removing bigger objects like people, then you should do it in Photoshop.

Red-eye correction: I barely use it as I don’t use flash. But, it removes the red effect produced by flashes.

Graduated Filter: You can create variations in the exposure of the image with this filter. I use it often to create vignettes or underexpose skies.

Radial Filter: Same as graduated but has a circular-oval shape. I generally do my vignettes with it as it allows my more control on the shadows.

Brush: a fantastic tool to make local adjustments.

Editing In Lightroom: The Workflow

This is my step by step workflow

  1. Crop the image according to my liking (Be sure to always try to enhance your composition)
  2. Remove chromatic aberration in the lens correction tab
  3. Look at the histogram and adjust exposure, shadow and highlights in the basic tab
  4. I include some extra contrast -or colour if needed in the RGB- in the tonal curve
  5. Adjust the colours according to my style in the HSL tab (remember, this is where you set your style apart so be sure to play with it!)
  6.  Might include some split toning (this totally depend on the image. Generally, I’d apply a bit for golden hour images where I’d like to “magnify the effects” of the light)
  7. Give that extra sharpness trough the detail tab
  8. Transform the image if the result is a good one.
  9. Back to the top and start with local adjustments.
  10. Radial filter to create a vignette
  11. If needed would include a graduated filter for the sky
  12. Brush tool to create more depth in certain parts of the image.

Now That You’ve Read How To Edit in Lightroom: Quality Simple Guide…

I’d highly recommend you to start organizing your photos with keywords so you can quickly access to them in the future.

Try to go trough the same workflow that I do and figure out if it suits you or not. Be sure to to work with the different sliders to create the very best image you can. After that, try to replicate to other photos until you have developed your own style.

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