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#6 of 10 Things All New Lightroom Users Should Know

OMG! It’s time for number 6 of 10 things I’d tell new Lightroom users. As promised, we are going to explore the Develop Module.

Oh, yes we are!

Hey, did you name that group from last weeks installment? Hint, they are sisters and point (er). You know, the Pointer Sisters. Now onto the Develop Module…

Where to start. Let’s see. Well, if we start from the beginning and discuss everything, we could be here for a few days or more.

So, let’s start with the basics…

I’m often asked, “where do I start”?

Good question. Let’s find out.

First, Lightroom was created by photographers for photographers. Well, it was created by Adobe. But, Adobe did develop Lightroom with a lot of feedback from well known photographers. Which simply means, the layout is intuitive for a fast and productive workflow.

Always start at the top and work your way down. In most cases.

You have to find what works best (and be consistent) for your workflow. Theres that word again; “workflow”…

Even then, you should start with your Histogram. It has a lot of information about your photo. In fact, it can help you figure out how to “fix” your photo. Did you under or over expose your photo? Well, it’s easy to see when that photo is displayed. But, in your histogram, you can see where and how much needs to be fixed.

See the gap on the left side of this Histogram (and the huge spike on the right)…

lightroom histogram
That’s telling us that the photo has no detail in the shadows. Plus, the huge spike on the right side is saying that the highlights are blown out. So, from that, we know that we need to fix the following sliders; Shadow, Highlight and the White + Black points.

Adjust those sliders too much or too little could mean the loss of detail. A properly edited image has details in both the shadows and highlights (for most photos). A good histogram will have no gaps and no spikes. It should look more like this histogram (same image, but properly edited)….

lightroom histogram
Ok, so reviewing the Histogram is step one. From there you know what needs to be fixed within the Basics Panel. Start at the top of that inner panel and adjust your; WB, Exposure, Contrast (I prefer the Tone Curve over this option), Tonal Range (Highlights, Shadows, White + Black Points), Presence (Clarity, Vibrance & Saturation).

Step two is…

the Tone Curve

I love the Tone Curve inner panel! It will provide you with more precision and control vs. the Contrast slider. So, yes, the Tone Curve is for adjusting your contrast.

The most often used setup, for me, is what’s know as an “S” curve…

tone curve

It gives me a boost in the highlights and shadows. Make sure you don’t go too far. Otherwise, you’ll end up clipping your White and Black points (shadows and highlights). Not sure, check your Histogram. 🙂

Next, we have our creative edit panels…

creative panel
  • HSL
  • Split Toning
  • Detail
  • Lens Correction
  • Effects
  • Camera Calibration

In that order

Unfortunately, not enough time to go over every feature, tip and technique of all the editing panels at this time. Sigh. It’s well beyond the scope of this post (otherwise you could be here all day – which wouldn’t be bad for my SEO.)…

What About the “Tools”…

lightroom tools
Well, depending on the photo, I may use one or more of the Tools before other panels. For example, if I have a photo, that is “crooked”, I’ll use the crop tool before I do anything else. But after that, my main – 3 go-to-first (for my workflow) – are…

  • Histogram
  • Basic
  • Tone Curve

After that, Split Toning, Detail and Effects. Although, I usually do Sharpening (Details) last (and recommend you do the same).

But, what about the Lens Correction and Camera Calibration? Well, Camera Calibration I never have to tweak. I’ve already setup the options for my personal taste (another one of those things you should do before you start using Lightroom). And for the Lens Correction, well, I’ve setup my settings and I let Lightroom do that for me automatically.

Say what? How?

I’ve created a Develop preset, with my Lens Correction settings, and apply it during import!

I love letting Lightroom do things for me automatically!

Once I’m done with the inner panels, the Tools are the next part of my workflow. Adjustment Brushes, Graduated Filters and the last tool I use is the Spot Removal. If you have a lot of “spots” (or retouching), then using the Spot Removal last is ideal. The more “pins” you add the more Lightroom gets bogged down.

So, there you have it. My recommendation for where to start (and end) when editing.

Hope you enjoyed todays installment.

Guess what. Only 4 installments left (so sad), that I would tell new Lightroom users…

Number 7 is a doozy.

Not going to want to miss it. Seriously.

O.k., here’s a little hint…

…do this and you could save 1 hour for every 8 hours worked! Say what? You want to save time? Get out of here. Seriously?

Then, come back in a week to find out how!


About the Author
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All around nice guy. Father of 2. Spouse of 1 :). Photographer for 25+ years, Photoshop user since the beginning, Lightroom user since 2007. What can I say, I'm short on words.



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