How to Edit Your Photos in Lightroom

Just took 6000 words to get to the best part:- editing your images!

In addition to organization, post-processing is one of the crucial pillars of Lightroom. It’s also one of typically the most personal parts about photography, along with your individual post-processing style has a major effect on the way your photos ultimately look. It’s essential way to differentiate your work from the rest of the market.

With a broad level, an excellent philosophy for post-processing is that your current final result need to look natural. If someone immediately thinks one of your photos looks fake, they aren’t more likely to see it in a very positive light.

Still, if you’re the color-high photographer that throws conventions within the wind, plus you want otherworldly contrast and bright red skies within your photograph, you may do that in Lightroom, too.

Lightroom isn’t as excellent as Photoshop typically in terms of the sheer number of post-processing options of which offers, but it definitely includes the most important options. Unless you are focused on conceptual, studio, or simply advertising photos, which might require intense enough for most of your picture. Personally, I spend 50x more hours within Lightroom than Photoshop, and most of my work is in the Develop module.


Develop Sliders

The heart of the Develop module is the right-hand side bar the post-processing sliders.

This is the way you change the brightness, contrast, saturation, colors, and other global image edits. The Develop sliders affect the whole picture rather than only a specific part. (A note on what I mean at the moment:- Yes, something like the “shadows” slider will affect the shadows more than the rest of the photo. However it will affect all the shadows equally across the whole image. So, it is still a “global” adjustment.

A lot of them are fairly user-friendly, and it is not worth spending a thousand words describing how “shadows” affects the brightness of the shadows in a photo, and “contrast” boosts the overall contrast of your scene. Play around with these slider, and you’ll get a much better feel for what they do you ever could by simply reading an article online.


Making Local Adjustments

Over and above the Lightroom slider (global adjustments), though, there are a set of local adjustments that you possibly can make to your images, too.

These can be very useful. Say that you want to highlight the importance of one specific trunk in your photo a simple solution is to do a local adjusting and brighten that single area of your image.

Which frequently local adjustments will Lightroom offer? This will depend after the version that you have. However, at most, you will be able to set five local adjustments:- spot removal, red eye correction, graduated filters, radial filters, and adjustment brushes.


Spot Removal

Spot Removal

This really is one of Lightroom’s most useful features. Perhaps you have taken a picture where your camera sensor has dust specks? They show up as small, annoying blobs in different parts of an image:-

Spot Removal

The spot removal tool is supposed to eliminate dust specks like this, as well as other parts of your image that really must be healed. For example, should you be trying to remove a small bird that flew across part of the sky in your image, you could use the spot removal tool to clone it out.

To find the photo more closely, you’ll probably want to zoom in. Click the “Z” key, or go to be able to the “Navigator” in the left-hand tab and choose typically the magnification that you want. (Lightroom does not have a slide-zoom feature that some other software does you’re limited to be able to zooming to very strict magnifications.)

You will notice that right now there are two options within the spot removal tool:- clone and heal. The two work by sourcing the replacement pixels from some other part of the photo. When you choose “clone, ” Lightroom replaces your spot-healed section using the specific pixels from typically the source area. When you choose “heal, ” Lightroom replaces your spot-healed section much more flexibly, using its algorithms to be able to determine how that thinks those pixels should look (though it still makes use of the source pixels as a baseline). I actually realize that I typically get better results together with “heal, ” but, for hard edges, it sometimes really does a poor job replacing pixels. In that case, “clone” can be quite a better option.

As of later Lightroom versions, the spot heal really works in a lot more than just circular spots; you may “paint” a healing brush in whatever shape you would like. I was glad when Lightroom added this feature, because the earlier version has been much more difficult to use.

Although the spot removal isn’t as advanced as Photoshop’s healing brush and similar features, it does its job. Unless you want to do extensive spot removal adjustments, it should be good enough in most cases.


Red Eye Correction

Red Eye Correction

Really dont take pictures of people very often, thus I don’t consider I’ve ever necessary to use this specific tool. However, when you used on-camera flash and ended up with red eye in one of your images (or if youre editing images that somebody else took), this specific is a great option to have.

It is pretty self-explanatory. The only tip I possess would is to zoom in on the photo (again, by pressing Z), which should make this easier to click on the right spot.


Graduated Filter

Graduated Filter

This tool, on the other hand, I use constantly!

If you ever need to adjust part of photo and not the others, your goal should be to make everything look as natural as possible. You don’t need any halos around your subject; that just looks weird.

Typically the graduated filter tool is a fantastic help just for this specific reason. Essentially, that allows you to adjust all typically the normal settings:- brightness, saturation, contrast, etc. but only to part of the photo. Specifically, that adjusts the photo along a smooth gradient.

If you prefer a darker sky, for example , it can be difficult to make it look natural without having affecting the horizon line as well. In this situation, my go-to would be the gradient tool, since it will be a very gentle adjustment. A gradient going from slightly above the horizon to slightly below would be very difficult to spot, and is likely to look much more natural than most other local adjustments would.

Naturally , it’s still possible to mess up the graduated filter; it doesn’t instantly create a seamless result. Here’s a good example where, by brightening the left-hand side of the frame having a graduated filter, I still finished up with a result that looked unnatural:-

Graduated Filter

This really is just one over-exaggerated example, though, plus there are a dozens of good examples of the graduated filter, too. Again, you will need to test. I find personally using this tool for huge portion of the pictures I take since it’s probably the most delicate way to edit portion of an image selectively.

Also, if you need to see typically the exact area of which your adjustment is usually targeting, here’s useful tip:- Click the “O” key! You’ll see typically the area of your gradient highlighted in red, which makes things pretty easy.

Graduated Filter

Ultimately, it’s worth noting that some later versions of Lightroom allow you to be able to edit the gradient that you’ve created using the “brush” option (see below):-

Graduated Filter

This could be useful if your current gradient works properly across almost all of the photograph, but there’s a small bit that you simply don’t want that to affect. Not necessarily all versions of Lightroom have this option, but it’s great if yours happens to include it.


Radial Filter

Radial Filter

Just like the graduated filter, more recent versions of Lightroom will offer exactly what is called the radial filter.

In cases like this, your “gradient” is usually circular or oval-shaped, but otherwise works exactly like typically the graduated filter tool.

I personally use this tool very often, since, once again, it will be among the gentler ways to make a local adjustment. If you’re trying to brighten the rock in the particular foreground of the landscape photo, for example, this tool can be very useful.

The only additional point to mention is of which the radial filter can be inverted, too that is, you get to choose whether the filter affects the area outside or inside of the circle/oval of which you draw. You may switch between them simply by checking or perhaps unchecking the “invert mask” option.

Radial Filter

Adjustment Brush

Adjustment Brush

The final of Lightroom’s nearby adjustment options may be the adjustment brush.

That one is as simple as it gets:- As if you’re using Microsoft Paint, you just paint overall the areas of which you want to adjust. Here, especially, it can help to press typically the “O” key (or click “Show Masked Overlay” in typically the Toolbar) so that you can notice each of the areas you’re selecting.

Typically the adjustment brush is not hard to misuse. Very first, my main tip is to stay away from clicking the “auto mask” option (in the right-hand pop-out) for the majority of photos. Just what does the auto mask do? Essentially, it tries to find hard edges in your photo, and then stop/start the boundary of your adjustment brush so that you don’t go beyond them.

This might sound like a very good idea, but it does not work well. When you accidentally leave “auto mask” turned on, and you use the adjustment brush over something such as a new cloud, you could recognize later the cloud looks really weird at full magnification, since the brush you wanted to be able to apply works on some pixels and not others. Probably, you’ll end up with grainy and to splotchy sections of which don’t look good at all. (However, if you are trying to select something particularly tough say, curl of hair you might like to turn on the “auto mask” option briefly. Just make sure that the final result actually looks good.)

Also, if you use the adjustment brush without care, it is easy to get strange halos around your subjects. Always watch out and double-check that your edits look as natural as possible.

Along with those qualifications, Lightroom’s adjustment brush could be a great tool. It is probably the most flexible way to edit your photos selectively, which usually makes it the very useful option to have at your disposal.


Sync Develop Settings

It is going to often be the particular case that you want to edit two photos similarly, or perhaps the particular exact same way. For example, when I’m taking Milky Way photos, the particular light doesn’t change very quickly from picture to picture. This means that I can use of the same Develop settings on several pictures in a row without a problem.

Certainly, you could perform this the slow way:- re-editing photo after photo with exactly the exact same settings. However, there is a far quicker way to do this particular:- syncing the Develop settings.

How can you sync the Develop settings from picture to picture? It is fairly easy:-

  • Edit one of your own photos however you would like; this is exactly what you’ll copy the particular settings from.
  • Enter Grid View from the Library module (press G).
  • Highlight all the pictures that, ideally, might have identical Develop settings. You can do this simply by holding down the particular Shift key plus clicking the first/last photos of the particular group. Or, you can hold down the Control key (Command on Mac) and click every photo individually.
  • Now that all the images are highlighted, simply click once on typically the already-edited photo. Typically the other photos need to remain highlighted, but the already-edited photo should be highlighted brighter compared to the rest.
  • Right click on any of highlighted pictures. Go to Develop Settings > Sync Settings.
  • The dialogue will appear asking which of the Develop settings you would like to sync. Remember that any local adjustments you’ve made may not really appear in the right spot in some other photos, assuming that your composition changed from shot to shot.
Sync Develop Settings
Sync Develop Settings

Photo Merge

In case you have one of the particular newest versions of Lightroom (Lightroom six or Lightroom Classic), you also have access to useful feature called picture merge.

This option lets you blend together photo as an HDR or perhaps as panorama. Hopefully, in typically the future, it will eventually enable merging as focus stack, too, although that isn’t available as of May 2017.

In order to merge pictures with each other, you’ll want in order to highlight all of them in Lightroom’s Grid View. Once again, to do so, you need in order to hold down the particular Shift key, after that click the first/last picture that you would like to merge. (Or you can hold down Control (for Mac, Command) and click every picture individually.)

And then, right-click, and go to Photo Merge > HDR, or perhaps Photo Merge > Panorama. In the cases, a dialogue will pop up which gives you few options. They are all pretty self-explanatory.

Sync Develop Settings

Here’s what the HDR panel looks as:-

Sync Develop Settings

The particular HDR photo over has some strange colors here (since I clicked the particular “auto tone” option, and Lightroom didn’t perform a great job), but that will be very easy to fix later.

Additionally, it exports these HDR or panoramic pictures as .DNG files, which means they are still RAW files (as covered earlier in the section on “Copy as DNG”).


Editing Externally

As nice as Lightroom’s develop options are usually, you still might want to your your images in various software from time to time. Individually, I use Photoshop for several images those which require complex edits, like focus stacking, that Lightroom will not allow.

To edit photograph externally, perfectly click and select Edit In > Adobe Photoshop, or Edit In > [whatever software you need to use].

Naturally, when you save the photograph in your external software, a copy of the photograph reappears inside Lightroom. This is useful! You can change the particular settings for the reopened photograph by clicking at the top menu:- Lightroom > Preferences.

Sync Develop Settings

At the point when you open the Preferences discourse, go to the header labeled External Editing, and you can adjust settings for photographs that are reopened from other post-processing software:-

Sync Develop Settings

I leave mine set import 16-bit TIFFs with the ProPhoto color space, given since are the particular biggest files along with the most information. You are able to set these however you want, although, and save a lot more hard drive space along with more compressed options.

(As a side note in case you're actually trying to change some of Lightroom's behind-the-scenes settings, this is the place to do it. There several different options in the Lightroom > Preferences dialogue, covering everything from the folder location of your Catalog file to the background color of your Library window.)

In addition to external editors, you can also utilize external plugins tools that can make your life simpler and accomplish tasks that Lightroom itself doesn't natively allow. For example, I purchased an external plugin called LR/Mogrify 2 that lets me add borders to the edges of my photographs when I export them, which wasn't otherwise possible.

Sync Develop Settings

If there’s something you can not do in Lightroom, you can almost always accomplish it via an external editor or an external plugin.