How to Master Lightroom: The Ultimate Guide

Photo editing in Lightroom is both an art and a craft, all rolled into one. Although this program is still just an auxiliary tool, and the photographer still has to do most of the work before and at the moment of pressing the shutter button, mastering post-processing is necessary for anyone who wants to succeed in the field of fine art or commercial photography.

In this article, we will mostly talk about Lightroom since it is widely used among photographers. However, this does not mean that this is the only solution. There are a lot of alternatives to Adobe Lightroom that can also be useful, both in conjunction with Lightroom and as standalone programs. You can read about all of them on Skylum’s blog! The more post-processing tools you have in your arsenal, the better for you!

So if you’re new to using Lightroom, it can be overwhelming to know where to start. To help you get started, I’ve compiled some tips that are based on my personal experience. While these tips may not work for everyone, I believe they can be helpful to beginners.

Keep in mind that as you gain more experience and develop your own style, you may find different approaches that work better for you.

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Adjusting white balance and color

  • Tip #1. Set up WB when it suits you. Most guides say that white balance is the first thing to set when processing photos in Lightroom. I strongly disagree with this statement. Firstly, modern cameras do a great job with natural white balance settings 99% of the time. Secondly, you must develop your own approach to processing photos, just like shooting itself.
  • Tip #2. White balance +100-500 (for commercial photography). If you’re shooting TFP, do as you see fit. But if you’re getting paid to take photos, I would recommend setting your white balance to 100-500 above normal. As practice shows, people like warm colors much more.
  • Tip #3. It Might Be Smarter Than You Think. Don’t neglect the Auto setting to correct your shots. Yes, sometimes it misses the exposure, especially if there are clouds in the frame, but in many cases, automatic settings are the best. Pressing the “Auto” button is worth it, at least, for familiarization.
  • Tip #4. Beware of contrast. When processing photos, do not overdo it with contrast. This thing works based on neighboring pixels’ colors and dramatically changes the picture. Do you want to make the image more expressive? Use Black, Saturation, Vibrance, and Clarity, but don’t increase contrast where you can do without it. Remember that you can always add contrast to an image, but it will be challenging to remove it later.
  • Tip #5. HSL, HSL, and HSL again! Learn to work with HSL. This is a much-needed tab. If you want good photos, get used to adjusting the skin tone. By the way, with group photos, you have to be careful. For example, mom and baby have different skin tones. Remember this!

Lightroom processing techniques: rumors and stereotypes

Remember that noise is not always cool

Surely you have heard that the “film illusion” in the photo is good. Yes, noise can sometimes add to the spectacle of an image. However, it is worth understanding that adding noise in Lightroom is suitable if you plan to use photos in a large format (print or online gallery) so that this noise is noticeable.

That is, Instagram is unlikely to be able to assess the noise even purely practically. In addition, the photo may initially have noise due to incorrect exposure or difficult shooting conditions, in which artificial noise will only exacerbate the situation.

Vignette and b/w do not show the depth of your thought

Indeed you have seen this effect many times, and it is elementary to achieve it in Lightroom. But it’s better not to. Firstly, the vignette is now, to put it mildly, not fashionable. Secondly, the b/w and vignette on each photo clearly show a lack of experience in photo processing.

Converting a palette to b/w is a matter of one click. But I advise you to convert the picture to black and white only when it really suggests itself, namely: you have a good rhythm in the photo, the lines are visually aligned, and the composition logically complements itself.

Black-and-white allows you to show the curves of the model’s body or the geometry in the frame. And it may look fantastic if it is what you want to focus on. To convert to black and white, the image must have enough contrast and color depth even before processing to black and white.

Extras: how to make working in Lightroom even more convenient?

In my opinion, the above are the main practical tips that will help beginners quickly get comfortable and start processing photos like a pro here and now. But there is something else that I would like to talk about.

As you know, the main advantage of Lightroom over Photoshop is that it is much more convenient for photographers. But there are some secrets that can make your work even more fun.

Adjust the sharpness in b/w

If you want to use the Detail to sharpen, I recommend doing it in b/w as it will make it easier for you to focus on the lines and fine details. Use the Alt key to convert an image to black and white temporarily.

Get rid of unnecessary tabs

Remove everything unnecessary from the workspace. Minimize unnecessary panels, and turn off the bar under the photo (T key). Work in Solo mode. This will focus your attention on each Lightroom setting in turn.

Secure your authorship in the EXIF

Heard about EXIF data? The information attached to the photo is usually official: shutter speed, ISO, and other shooting parameters. Photographers also add their phone numbers, social network links, and author’s name or nickname before issuing photos to clients. And – why not? In Lightroom, you can add and edit exif tags. This is done in just a couple of clicks and applied to all photos simultaneously.

I advise you not to refuse this opportunity because it is not striking, but at the same time, it reminds you that you are the photo’s author.

Abhishek is the founder of Geeks Gyaan. When he's not busy writing, he loves looking at the stars and exploring the universe.


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