I recently took the plunge and purchased Adobe Lightroom. I had always strictly edited my photos on Instagram (crazy, I know!) but after a while I thought I needed an actual editing program to enhance my photos just a bit more.
I mainly wanted to be able to edit my sons brand repping photos that I would be posting to Instagram or emailing to shops that we repped for. I had heard from so many people that they loved Lightroom and highly recommended it.
I did do a bit of research on how to use Lightroom but, let’s be honest I pretty much just played around with it and taught myself what worked for me and for my pictures.
From working with Lightroom I’ve used many different features it has to offer. I’ve found that I generally use 4 main features to greatly enhance my photos. Below I have included the 4 main tips I use when editing my photos:
1- Exposure – This is the first thing you will adjust, and it will change the overall appearance of your photos the most. The exposure actually has to do with what settings your ISO, aperture and shutter speed were at when you took the photo. (for more details on this check out my photography tips here). Adjusting your exposure will brighten the overall appearance of the photo. Keep in mind when taking a photo it is far easier to lighten a dark photo than it is to try and darken a very bright photo. I don’t typically ever take the exposure down when editing a photo. I almost always bump it up to give the photo a brighter look. As you adjust your exposure keep an eye on your histogram (box in the top right corner of the screen.) The histogram should straighten out slightly as you adjust the exposure. You will find that simply adjusting your exposure will have your photo looking brighter and better with just this one step.
2- Highlights & Whites – The next step I like to do is adjust the highlights and whites. I slide the slider up slightly for both of these. When adjusting your highlights be sure not to overdo it as you want to retain your details in the photo. The whites are pretty self explanatory, it will brighten the whites in the photo giving it that little extra pop.
3 – Shadows & blacks – As you adjusted your exposure in the first step you may have noticed your blacks appearing a bit washed out. Do not fear…this is the step where we correct that. You’ll want to slide the slider down on both your blacks and shadows. Slide them until you like the look of the picture. And for the blacks, until you feel the black in your picture is similar to where it was in the original photo you took.
4 – Sharpen – This will be your last step. After you have adjusted all the settings and you’re happy with the way it looks, you then want to sharpen your picture giving it that finishing touch.
(Optional tip 5 – Noise reduction) This is a step I generally only use on the odd indoor picture. I find that certain pictures have a “grainy” appearance when shot indoors. While some people like that look I like to bump up the slider on the luminance slightly. This will help to smooth out the grainy look just a bit. You will not be able to completely get rid of the grain but it will certainly help.
VOILA! here is the before and after of my photo.
Now, I don’t claim to be an expert in the editing field, rather, I still very much consider myself a rookie. But one thing I did find helpful when first getting used to Lightroom was to play around with the sliders, sliding them all the way left, and all the way right to see just how each adjustment will effect the photo. As you become more and more comfortable with the program, be sure not to overdo it. I find a lot of people (myself included) tend to overdo it when it comes to editing photos, making your photo appear too ‘edited’. This is something you want to avoid. You want your picture to appear as natural as possible. I myself try to get the best photo I can straight out of the camera to avoid having to do heavy editing to it.
Don’t be afraid to play around with your photos in Lightroom (especially since your original photo can always be found if you don’t like the way you’ve edited). Find what works or doesn’t work for you.
You may not like the steps I gave today, or find they simply don’t work on your photos, and that’s ok. There is no “set way” on how to edit your photos. You will adjust each setting differently or use different tools depending on the specific picture.
I do find that each photo requires a different editing technique but I find these 4 tools are generally the ones I use when editing each photo. I hope they help you and give you somewhere to start when using Lightroom.