Lightroom Editing Tips

When i started photography, Lightroom was my first editing software. Like most, i now use Photoshop but still have lightroom but i made the mistake of thinking Lightroom is only good for crops, sorting images out but over the last few months with some study, i have found i use Lightroom almost as much as photoshop these days and find many things like straightening easier in Lightroom than photoshop.

I often shoot on grey in a studio as with presets in lightroom i can easily change the colour and mood of an image with a few clicks.

So although this is no where near a complete guide to Lightroom and i am still a million miles away from being half decent with editing, these are a few notes i scribbled down when i was reading a book on using lightroom and if you only find one thing you did not know from all these notes than i hope it was worth the read to you:

(Note please note i use a Mac for some key commands may be different on a PC but it will be easy to google for the PC version)

E= Library
Q= Develop (and in develop for Spot removal tool)
Command and Return- Slideshow
Command and Z= Back/Undo
Black and White= V (V again to return to colour)
z= Zoom 100%
f= Full Screen
J= Grid view
ESC- Return to previous
k= Adjustment brush
m- Graduated filter tool (Tip, if you press M twice to exit, you will exit and start a new second tool)
Alt, Shift, Command and T = Tone Curve panel
Command and U= Auto Tone
Before/After = Y key
Shift and M= Radial Filter Tool

TipApplying more than 1 Lightroom adjustment overlay/filter
Where you see an option to view the before/after of your adjustments, (Y key), you notice a few more boxes to the right of the before/after options. One of these is called “copy after settings to before”. Clicking this means any overlay/filter applied to your original image now is added but the image is also now an original image and lets you apply more filters/overlays if needed.

Tip- On the editing panel to the right, near the bottom i often have these boxes ticked in the Lens correction panel:
Enable Profile Correction (Note, sometimes i shoot weirdly, through objects to create in camera effect, At times i prefer my shot to the profile correction one so i leave it unchecked, but it’s a case of personal preference)
Remove Chromatic Aberration

1) Adjustment Brush (K)
Feather= 0 Hard to 100 Soft
Flow and Density =The Flow sets the speed of the adjustment made when painting. For example, if you set the Exposure slider to +2 and then set the Flow down to 25 and paint in the image, you will notice that it takes a longer to build up that +2 stops than if you had left the Flow setting at 100 (eventually though, it will get there). A low Flow setting can help when trying to slowly dodge and burn in an area of an image. The Density slider caps amount of change that can be applied with a paint stroke. If you set the Exposure slider to +2 and then set the Density down to 50, no matter how long you paint, you will never get more of a change than 1/2 of the +2 (or +1 stop).
A and B Allows you to create two separate brush settings so you can switch easily as you work
Alt Holding down ALT key and click slider will reset it

2) Temperature/Tint Sliders
1) Use Temp/Tint to do background to how you want it 2) Use brush (k) to paint over subject affected by 1) and adjust temp/tint or other settings

3) Basic Control Panel
Best used in order its laid out, ie Exposure before Contrast, Contrast before Highlights
Tip- If using, use ALT key (hold) and move sliders for clipping
Tip- If using, use SHIFT key (hold) and move sliders for basics

Command and U = Auto Tone
J = Toggle Clipping

4) Vibrancy and Saturation
Vibrancy- Built in skin colour protector and less saturated colours get a saturation boost
Saturation- Only used for big shifts when you want to dramatically boost or remove colours but vibrancy is best option

5) Highlights and Shadows
These start as the default zero. Move them to negative (-) and you will restore more highlight detail. Move them to right and blows out highlights.

6) Blacks and whites
Lots of times to get the right blacks and whites setting, you want to see a very little amount of clipping.
When moving your sliders for blacks and whites, hold down the Alt key and you will see the clipping. You want it so the clipping just starts.

7) Moire Setting
Rarely need to use this tool but can fix slight problems caused by camera’s with no anti-aliasing filters. Problems occur when you photograph an area of fine details, such as wire mesh in a fence, if the detail is more than 1 pixel wide then the sensor has no issue. However if the detail is so small and less than 1 pixel wide your more likely to see effects of moire. Most of us will never use this but if you need to simply drag slider to right to reduce effects of moire. Be careful though as the more you drag to the right, the higher the chance of colour bleeding.

8) HSL Sliders
Hue- Skin tones. Ie Target Adjustment tool (top left of HSL section), click on skin and drag mouse upwards = less red.
Luminance- Grass, Sky etc

9) Vignette
A) Paint Priority- Blends B&W to edges
B) Highlight Priority- More dramatic results, better highlight
C) Colour Priority- More Gentle Vignette

10) Image Retouching
Spot Removal Tool (Q)
Tip- Hold down Shift and Q to switch between clone or heal

Clone- Copies and repairs from a sample area but does not blend the result with surrounding pixels. This option is best for removing spots that are close to an edge
Heal- Best for all other retouching

11) Graduated Filter Tool (M)
One of my favourite tools in Lightroom
Tip- If you wish to reset hold down ALT and reset 1 effect and all will reset
Tip- Click on Pin marker, Hold down ALT key and drag curser left to decrease or right to increase strength
Tip- Can you brush tool (K) in AUTOMASK mode to erase mask on items within a graduated adjustment area

M- Quick Key. If you press M twice you exit a current graduated tool and start a new second one

12) Radial Filter Tool (Shift and M)
This tool allows you to create off centre vignettes
It has the same options as the graduated filter tool but a added feather slider for softening the borders

13) Black and White (V)
1. Click V to switch to B&W
2. The White balance/tint temperature can be used to fine tune how you like
3. In HSL Slider in the tone curve panel, click B&W and adjust sliders. The adjustment sliders help especially if shooting outdoors for changes to tones on grass, sky etc
4. You can also use the target adjustment tool to edit the image directly (Command, Alt, Shift and G on mac), (Control, Alt, Shift and N on PC).. This allows you to move the pointer over certain parts of the image and using this method it changes mostly that part of the image ie if want darker skys then drag curser down.

14) Sharpening/Noise
A) Shaprening
If using these best results are when you use 1:1 Ratio
Use Lightroom General Presets as starting point: Sharpen faces or Sharpen Scenic

In the Detail Panel:
You can use the preview target tool (to left of image) to pinpoint the area you want to sharpen/preview.
Hold down ALT key as you drag sliders to see effects of the change

1) Amount Slider- Basically a volume control. More you apply, more image goes sharper
2) Radius- Again use ALT key to move slider to see effects. If architecture/landscape style image then you will benefit using less than 1.0 radius. Radius higher than 1.0 are better for portraits etc.
3) Detail- Again use ALT key when moving sliders. A Good Portrait is about 1.0-2.5 radius WITH low detail, up to about 30 ish. This brings out the little details more ie eye lashes
4) Masking- Suppression Tool. Higher number = more of image protected. Hold down ALT key and move sliders to view changes

You can even use sharpness to blur a background. Use Graduated filter tool, select area and move sharpness to negative. You can do this many times if -100 is not enough

B) Noise
Luminance – Most images, even those shot using low Iso’s may benefit from some of this as noise is always present to some degrees but of course only noticeable at higher isos. Default is 0 and can try using this from 5 to 20
Detail- The detail slider acts like a threshold control for the main Luminance slider. Default is 50. If you drag this to the right it reduces the amount of smoothing and preserves more details. If you move it to the left this smoothes the noise but also causes non noise areas to be treated as noise and this means its smoothed with loss of detail so best to avoid if possible
Contrast- Default is 50 which is best generally but if moved to right it allows you to preserve more contrast and texture. This Contrast slider is best when the Luminance detail slider is set to a low value as increasing details leads to less impact on contrast

Tip- You can also use selective noise using the adjustment brush (K). If you increase the slider you add more to noise reduction. Your not adding noise by going to right but reducing it.