Top 10 Lightroom Tips

July 11, 2016

Adobe Lightroom is an incredibly versatile piece of software and offers great workflow possibilities for photographers. Its integrated design means you can easily edit your images and get professional-looking results in no time at all. michaels Media School instructor Asher Floyd shares some of his tips to get the most from Lightroom.

Like with any physical workspace, to get the most from Lightroom, you will need a clear workflow and workspace that allows you to perform tasks with the greatest efficiency. Get the most out of your workspace by deactivating Auto Hide & Show side panels, activating Solo Mode and Full Screen operation:
  • Deactivating Auto Hide & Show prevents the "popping-out" behaviour of side panels when the mouse moves too close. While this can be handy on very small screens, it is mainly a frustration  Right click on the panels on the left, right, top and bottom of the screen and switch them to Manual.

  • Solo Mode limits the number of open dropdown toolbars to one per panel. This is particularly handy in preventing your side panels becoming cluttered with open toolbars and sliders. Right click on the name of a Toolbar and select Solo Mode.

  • Full Screen (SHIFT + F) gives you more space for Lightroom and a more immersive experience. You can cycle through various options using the shortcut for full screen with menu bar, full screen without menu bar and windowed.

Adobe Lightoom Solo

Survey View does an excellent job of whittling down a set of photos, however when down to your best few it can be difficult to differentiate them for fine detail (e.g. sharpness).  At this point, try swapping to Loupe View (E), getting a close look at the pictures, and then returning to Survey.  Your selection will be maintained through these view changes.

Even when looking at images on the largest screens, 1:1 viewing is recommended to see the finest details that aren't apparent on a computer screen at lower reproductions.

Flags are the simplest way to mark you favourite images (P) and are your best option for a first pass selection.  However, if your photo set is still too large and you need further culling, try using Stars. This is a versatile way of ranking your images. The beauty of Lightroom is that it is very flexible, therefore the stars can mean whatever you want them to. For instance, you might rank your images 1, 2 or 3 for "Good, Better, Best" or you might rank an image 4 for "print ready".

You can quickly rate the remaining images with Stars by activating Auto-Advance (Photo > Auto-Advance) – rating or flagging an image will automatically advance you to the next image.

Lightroom purges Standard previews for images you haven’t viewed recently, and 1:1 Previews are often not generated until you Zoom on your photo.  Instead of waiting for Lightroom to render previews while you browse, try selecting some images and force rendering via the Library menu > Previews.  Meanwhile, grab a coffee!

Alternately, if you're short on hard drive space, purging the 1:1 previews can free up space in a pinch. But beware, it will take time to render those previews next time you need them.

Achieving correct skin tones is crucial for a believable portrait.  Try working directly on skin using the HSL toolbar.  Modify the Luminance, Saturation and Hue of the reds, oranges and/or yellows.  The small HSL Adjustment Tool (found just to the left of each HSL section) helps you select the relevant colour group for your subject.

Complete control over HSL is one of Lightroom's defining features and is one of the most powerful tools in creating pleasant images.

Adobe Lightroom Top Tips
Clarity is a powerful adjustment, but can have very negative effects when applied to the whole images.  Instead, try applying Clarity using the Adjustment Brush. The Adjustment Brush lets you selectively highlight areas and apply a given effect. With a low Flow setting dust the effect onto just areas that can “take it”.  Such areas are those in sharp focus, eyes, lips, hair and patterned clothing/objects.  Avoid soft-focus, blur, and skin.
Also part of the Adjustment Brush, experiment with the Auto-Mask option – allowing you to paint along one side of an edge while avoiding the effect crossing the line.  While it will be less successful on a blurred edge, Auto-Mask gives very good results where the boundary is sharp, such as a subject shot in a white studio. This tool can be very powerful in adjusting isolated areas, leaving the rest of the image clean and untouched.
    Lightroom 5 includes a Radial Graduated Filter, masking your effect with a circular shape as opposed to the Linear Filter present in previous versions.  The Radial Filter allows you to wrap effects around people and objects found in your foreground (keeping colour effects away from your subjects will protect pleasing skin tones).  Try zooming out to 1:16 size (using the Navigator) and applying subtle Radial Filters across a broad area.
    The Spot Removal tool has been improved in Lightroom 5, but have you realised that it can be used to move objects, not just conceal them?  Place a Spot Removal where you want an object placed, then move the Spot Removal Source over the object’s current location.  As a second step, use Spot Removal again to conceal the original object.  This will not work for every situation, but can be successful with amorphous substances like rocks or clouds, and isolated objects like flying birds or a ball.

    If you need to work on images with another computer, in another copy of Lightroom, try Exporting them as a Catalogue (File menu > Export as Catalogue).  While saving, tick Export Negative Files to include copies of the original RAW files in the catalogue package being saved.  The folder this generates will include a new catalogue file and your image files – in other words a self-contained package that can be moved to other computers on a flash drive.

    This “portable” catalogue can then be opened stand-alone, or imported into a different catalogue (File menu > Import from Another Catalogue).  If the other catalogue already contains information about the same images, you will have the option to update with the new info.

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