Lightroom Tutorial

Lightroom is a great program that every photographer should know how to use. Not only does it have editing software, but it also stores your images for you. Lightroom is easy to learn and use, and is very efficient. To get started, take the images from your camera and put them in one folder somewhere on your computer.

All screenshots by Katie Wallace
All screenshots by Katie Wallace

Don’t import them directly from your SD card into Lightroom because later on, once the card is ejected, then the file source will be gone and Lightroom will not have a root folder in which to find the original files.

Now you get to open Lightroom. When you first open it, you will have all your previous folders available, and the last project you were working on will be what is shown upon starting the program.

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To get started, you need to add a folder into the library. Click the plus sign on the left hand side of the screen, where you can also see all your previous folders. Then browse your computer to upload the folder with all your original images. Lightroom is compatible with RAW images, so don’t worry about that.

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The next step is going through every photo you’ve taken and picking out the best ones. You can have any number of photos in a folder. On average, I end up with about 300 or 400 images per folder. This is an easy, quick way to go through every photo you have and pick out the best ones that will be your final product. Make sure that every image you want is checked. You can view them all as a grid or look at each individually. Lightroom is extremely use-friendly and you can make it look how you want. Everyone has their own personal preference.

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One you’ve gone through all your photos and have selected the ones you wish to continue with and edit, then click the handy import button in the lower right hand corner.

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Here comes the fun part: editing. Everyone has their own unique style of editing. You don’t have to edit your photos a certain way, but I’m going to show you some tips and tricks that are my personal favorites. You need to be in the Develop tab to do so. While there is a quick edit box in the Library tab, the Develop tab has a lot more options and gives you much more control over how the image looks. Just like with importing images, you can adjust the screen to how you wish to edit. You can view the original and edited photo side-by-side, a split view, horizontal, vertical, etc. It all depends on how you like to work.

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First, I always check the color balance. If it’s too green, add in some magenta. If it’s too yellow, add in some blue. You don’t want a dis-colored image.

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Next I always adjust the shadows and darks. The shadows go up to +25, and the blacks to -25. Sometimes more or less, depending on the photo. This helps the colors to pop a lot more and gives the image a little more depth. Then adjust highlights, whites, exposure, etc. to how you want it.

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Then go onto clarity, vibrance, and saturation. I personally never touch saturation unless my photo is drastically gray. In my opinion, it makes photos look tacky. But that’s up to you. For clarity, giving it a little nudge never hurts anything, and vibrance goes up a bit as well. Not too much, or the photo won’t look real.

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After that, move onto curves. Curves take some practice to get used to. They essentially do what the highlight, shadow, white, and black sliders do. Just with slightly more detail. Mess around with it to get the hang of it, but it’s not a necessity in editing, especially as a beginner.

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This is also a personal preference, so you don’t have the do this, but scroll further down to the Detail section. My absolute favorite feature in Lightroom is the Luminance slider. It gets rid of grain by smoothing out the pixels of an image, and also softens up peoples’ faces, if those are the images you’re working with.

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Lightroom also has a black and white feature. Press the “v” button on your keyboard to change an image to black and white. You can make a virtual copy of the image beforehand so you have a color and B&W version. It’s not a necessity, but it helps to compare the two.

At any time during the editing process, if you decide you don’t want a photo, you can right-click and delete it. It will not delete the original file off your computer, but it will delete it from Lightroom. So if you ever decide to bring it back again, it is still in your root folder.

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Once you have edited your image and gotten it to look how you want, it’s time to export. Select all the images in the bottom bar and go up to file > export. From here, you can choose where to save the images. The selected folder will be the last place you exported to, so you’ll have to change the location. My personal preference is to export into the root folder using a subfolder titled “edited.” You can specify in the Export screen if you want to put the images into a subfolder or not, and name it whatever you want.

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After that, press Export, wait for the process to finish, and you’re done!

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