A collection of Photography Adventures, tips and tricks.

Editing in Lightroom

Having experience in design, or editing knowledge prior to this is always going to help, but it's not necessary as there are a few key items needed to really edit a photo to make it look good.  With that being said too much editing is never a good thing and its best to keep a happy medium and here's how.

Prior to editing in Lightroom, you want to ensure all your important setting are established on your hardware, including that your shooting in RAW format and you have the correct Exposure Triangle setting for the situation.  Having these two things done are the actual first step in editing in Lightroom, after that you get to play and kind of follow my methodology of learning.  

A majority of first time users today will come to be surprised they already know a good bit of photo editing language with regards to just Instagram.  Now I'm not saying this is the defacto guide to becoming a professional, just that you know more than you actually think.  While in Lightroom there are a few sliders on the right that are hidden in the Develop tab (Located on the top right) and you're going to want to click that open.  

In this slider I'm going to cover the essentials and really what they do for you.  

Temp / Tint: is the overall temperature of the photo, if you've ever heard someone say to make this photo warmer or colder, this is the slider.  Generally you do not want to move this more than +/- 100 points.

Exposure: If you did everything right in the field with your Exposure Triangle, then this will need minimal adjustments, generally +/- 0.20 is where I'm at currently with a good bit of my editing so i'm happy with that and that would be an ideal benchmark for you to reach as well.

Contrast: This is going to increase the definition of your lights and darks in the photo and bring them out more.  From my experience I tend to sit around a +20 or so, but this is one that you can easily see adjusting in your photo as you move the slider.  I personally do not like setting my contrast too high because it tends to make your photos not look realistic and true.  this goes for a lot of the sliders as we continue as well.

Clarity: This will adjust the amount of effective blur you have in a photo.  If you have a photo with the BG already blurred but you didnt achieve the exact amount of blur you like, this is where you can adjust and also here you would only need very minimal editing +/- 20%.

Vibrance / Saturation: These are sliders that have quite a bit of impact and if done incorrectly can turn a perfectly good photo into a cartoon instantaneously, now for me that's not good so no cartoon editing here KEEP IT MINIMAL!  For a good benchmark I usually play around the +15-35 range on both of these equally but this is also in conjunction with the next section i'm going over as well as these go hand in hand.


Further down in the same column of the Develop tool you will see these three tabs (HSL, Color,Grayscale) and we will be focusing on HSL.  This set of sliders are going to individually adjust each of the colors represented within the tool.  When you want to bring out the color in the sky for example you will go to your blue slider and adjust it by about -15 or -30%.  This general logic works on anything you work on, you want to bring out the treeline a little more, lower your Green a little bit, sky is blue, bark is oranges, etc.  By doing slight adjustments here you see more value out of your "Vibrance and Saturation" adjustments as well. 

I'm not saying this is a bible by any means, but what I do want you to focus on are what I feel are important editing sliders within Lightroom that you can begin using with ease and get what your looking for in your photos.  I have what I feel is an unorthodox way of learning, but it may work for you as well.  The more you tinker with each of these sliders and fully understand what they're doing then the more fun you can have, so reverse engineer everything and talk yourself through it so it retains better.  With this knowledge above and once you have a good understanding of it you can copy your develop settings and carry them over to other photos from your shoot.  this is done by going to Setting on the top toolbar, and select copy settings, which will prompt a pop-up window and just select copy.  Go to your next photo and then back to settings and paste settings, then do your minimal editing there so you have a clean look across your whole shoot!  Below are examples of what I have achieved in my Lightroom editing so far so if you like how that looks then I'd say follow the above, Enjoy!

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