Adobe Lightroom Tutorial: Get Started with Lightroom
By Phil Ebiner for Udemy
Interested in more than just a beginner’s guide? Check out Phil’s full Lightroom course.
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Welcome to the Adobe Lightroom tutorial. Throughout this Lightroom guide, you’ll learn all of the basics to get started with editing photos in Adobe Lightroom. You’ll even learn some intermediate and advanced techniques to make your photos look amazing.
Lightroom is a photo management and editing application designed for photographers. You’ll be able to organize, edit, export, and share your digital photos with this tool. While there are many other photo editing applications out there, Lightroom does a superior job of allowing photographers to efficiently and powerfully edit their photos.
To understand any computer program, the first thing you should be comfortable doing is navigating. Let’s go over the layout of Lightroom. At the very top left is your file menu. While most of the options in the file menu are able to be chosen through the application windows and buttons, you may find it easier to just find what you’re looking for in the file menus. For example, to export photos, which we will discuss in depth later, go to File – Export.
Near the top right are module tabs, including Library, Develop, Map, Book, Slideshow, Print, and Web. We’ll be covering the Library and Develop modules in this tutorial. Click on the module button to open that editing module.
On the left are organizational panels, including your Navigator, Catalog, and Folders panels. Basically, this is where you will import and organize your photos for editing.
In the center is your preview window. This is where you will see the work you are doing while editing and preview photos.
On the right are panels that change depending on what module you are in. If you are in the Library module, the right panels include more information and metadata about your photos. In the Develop module, the right panels include all of the photo editing tools.
At the bottom is the filmstrip of photos that shows the set of photos you are working on. In the Develop module, select the photo to edit via the filmstrip. At the top of the filmstrip are viewing options and filtering options, which we’ll cover below.
The first thing to do when using Lightroom is import photos. A key difference between Photoshop and Lightroom (for those of you who have used Photoshop) is that when you import photos into Lightroom, you are only opening the photo file and not creating a duplicate of it. Any edits you make in Lightroom will be attributed to the original photo file itself. There is an option while importing photos for Lightroom to copy the photos to a new location so that you don’t edit the originals.
To import your photos:
- Click the import button at the bottom left of the Library module.
- Find the folder that contains your photos using the Source panel on the left.
- In the middle preview panel, select all or some of your photos to import by checking the box next to each photo that you would like to import. You can also press the Check All or Uncheck All button to quickly select or deselect your photos.
- In the right File Handling panel, check the Add to Collection box.
- Create a new collection by clicking the + button next to the Add to Collection text. Creating a new collection for your photos is important for organizational purposes. A window will pop up where you can name the collection.
- Click the Import button on the bottom right.
The Library module opens up with all of the photos that you have imported. On the left, you can see that you are viewing photos from Previous Import. Click the Collections drop-down menu to see the collection that you just created, which includes the same photos as the Previous Import catalog. Now that you’ve created a collection of photos, you can also find them in the Collections panel.
After you’ve imported photos, the next step is to rate the photos so that you know which photos you’ll want to edit later on. To go through your photos one at a time, press the Loupe View button at the bottom of the preview window. It is second from the right, next to the Grid View button.
Now you can scroll through your photos either by clicking them in the filmstrip below, or by using the right and left keys on your keyboard.
Lightroom has a five-star rating scale. How you rate your photos is up to you. Typically a photo rated at five stars is better than a one-star photo. For simplicity, use the following rating scale:
- 5 stars: An amazing photo that you love
- 4 stars: A great photo that you like
- 3 stars: A decent photo that you still want to edit
- 2 stars: A bad photo that might be a duplicate, slightly out of focus, and doesn’t make the cut
- 1 star: A terrible photo that you should probably just delete
To assign a rating to your photos, click the star rating button at the bottom of the preview panel. Note that you must have only one photo selected in the filmstrip. You can also easily add ratings to your photos by pressing the corresponding number on your keyboard (1-5). This keyboard shortcut will apply the star rating to that photograph.
Go through all of your photographs and give them a rating.
After you’ve rated all of your photographs, you’ll be able to filter your Collection according to your rating. This will help you easily find only the best photos that you’d like to edit.
To filter using the star ratings, click the Filters menu at the top right of the filmstrip. There are a variety of ways that you can filter your photos. To filter according to your ratings, click the Rated option.
A five-star rating scale appears, and you can select the number of stars you want to filter out. For example, you can click the third star and filter out any photograph with a rating of two stars or lower.
You can even change how you filter the ratings by clicking the greater than or equal to button on the left side of the star scale. You can change how it filters to Rating is less than or equal to or Rating is equal to.
Before diving into actually editing photos, it is important to know how to read the photo’s Histogram, which appears in the top right of the Library and Develop modules.
What is a histogram?
A histogram is basically a graph that visually represents the exposure of each pixel in your image. On the left side of the graph, the blacks and shadows are represented. On the right side, the highlights and brighter areas are represented. The middle section includes mid-tones. The higher the peak in each section means the more pixels at that exposure.
The graph goes from 0-255 (0 being black and 255 being white). Each tone is one pixel wide on the graph. In Lightroom, you can see in the histogram how individual colors are exposed. In the histogram above, notice that there is a big spike on the right side. This shows that a portion of the image is overexposed.
How can we use the histogram?
First, we can tell if the image is well exposed. If the graph has pixels going from 0 to 255 (from black to white) without any crazy spikes, then you have a well-exposed image. While editing a photograph, pay attention to how the histogram changes. If you are editing an image too dark, the histogram will show a spike on the left end of the graph. If it is too bright, there is a spike on the right end. If a photo already has a histogram with spikes on either side of the graph, this is not good because the data in these spikes can’t be recovered.
Remember when you can ignore the rules.
As always, remember when you should ignore these rules. Some pictures that you want to take will have completely underexposed parts of the frame that will result in a spike. For example, night photography – pictures of the sky will often have pure blacks. Sunsets will sometimes have pure whites (coming from where the sun is). Just because you know what the histogram is telling you to do, doesn’t mean you should follow it.
The histogram is yet another tool. You’re the artist.
You’ve arrived at the section we’ve all been waiting for: editing. In this section, you’ll learn about all of the basic editing tools that Lightroom offers. First, click on the Develop module to open up the editing panels. On the right side are all of the panels with different editing tools. The first panel is the Basic panel. For all of these tools, there is a slider that you can move from left to right to make adjustments. You can also click the number to the right of the slider and type in a precise number of your liking. To reset an individual slider, just double-click the name of the slider on the left (for example, if you’ve moved the exposure slider to the left and want to bring it back to zero, just double-click the “exposure” text).
The first two sliders in the Basic panel have to do with white balance: temperature and tint. Move the temperature slider to the left to add more blue (cooling down your photo). Move it to the right to add more yellow (adding warmth to your photo). Compensate with the tint slider to add more green or pink.
Another way to quickly get the correct white balance is by using the white balance selector (the eyedropper tool). Click the tool and then hover over your photo in the preview panel. Click on something in your photo that is supposed to be white (for example, a cloud or a white T-shirt). Your photo will automatically adjust. Then use the sliders to fine-tune it.
The exposure slider changes the overall brightness of your photos. Slide it to the right to increase brightness. Slide it to the left to make your photo darker. Notice what happens to the histogram while you adjust the exposure. Remember that a well-exposed photo doesn’t have any large peaks on the right or left sides of the histogram (and at the very least, the main subject of the photo isn’t too dark or too bright).
The contrast slider makes your photo more or less contrasted. What does that mean? Contrast has to do with how bright the highlights are, and how darks the darks are. Increasing contrast will make the darks darker and the highlights brighter. Decreasing the contrast will make your image appear flatter. Typically it is good to have some contrast. It makes your image pop. However, some people like having a flat-looking image. It has become a popular style.
Also know that when you add contrast to your image, it also increases the saturation.
This next set of sliders is what makes Lightroom so powerful. Especially if you shoot your photos in RAW format, using the highlights, shadows, whites, and blacks sliders allows you to really get in there and fine-tune different parts of your image.
All of these sliders work the same. Moving to the left will make the corresponding parts of your image darker, and moving to the right will make them brighter. If you have an overexposed image, which means it is too bright, decreasing the highlights slider will add more detail to the highlights. If your shadows are too dark, move that slider to the right.
The clarity slider quickly sharpens and adds contrast to your image. Use this tool sparingly with photos of people, as it intensifies people’s blemishes and wrinkles. A good time to add clarity is with photos of landscapes and nature. If you’re looking to do a quick HDR effect in Lightroom, slide the clarity slider all the way to the right.
The vibrance and saturation tools do a similar thing to your photos: they add more color. However, they work very differently. The vibrance slider is a smart tool that adds saturation to desaturated colors, while leaving the colors that are already saturated unchanged. The vibrance slider doesn’t increase saturation in skin tones, which is great because adding a lot of saturation to normal skin tones will make them look unnatural.
With the saturation tool, you are adding or decreasing the saturation of all colors in your photo. Adding a little bit of saturation can make your photos come alive. However, be careful not to add too much saturation.
To quickly create a black-and-white photo in Lightroom, drag the saturation slider all the way to the left to -100.
After you’ve edited your photo, it might be helpful to see a side-by-side comparison of before and after. To do this, click the side-by-side button at the bottom of the preview window. Click the button again to cycle through different before-and-after views.
This next set of tools gives you more editing control to make your photos look even better. Most of these tools are in the panels below the Basic panel. The crop tool is an exception and can be found by clicking the crop button right above the Basic panel.
Taking photos that are perfectly composed is difficult. That is why we crop photos after the fact. To crop a photo in Lightroom, click the crop button, which is between the histogram and Basic panel on the right side. You can also press the keyboard shortcut R to open the crop tool.
Quickly crop by clicking on one of the sides or corners of the new outline that appears around your photo in the preview window. To rotate your image, hover over the outside of a corner of your image, click and drag to the left or right. You can also click and drag the photo itself, moving it within your new crop bounding box. Once you are done cropping the photo, press return on your keyboard or click the crop button to close the crop panel.
There are also a number of options in the crop panel that appear after clicking the crop button that affect the way you crop your photos.
First is the Aspect. Click in the Original text to the right of the text Aspect: to bring up different aspect ratio options. The aspect ratio of your photo is ratio of width to height. Choose one of the included aspect ratios or create one of your own. Use this if you want to create a very wide or square photo. A square photo would have an aspect of 1:1. To quickly create a custom aspect, click the icon to the left of the Aspect: text, and then click and drag in your preview window to create a custom aspect.
Lock and unlock the aspect ratio by clicking the lock icon on the top right of the crop panel.
An easy way to rotate your image is my adjusting the angle. Move the slider to the left or right to rotate.
To quickly rotate your image so that the horizon or a particular line in your photo is level, click the level icon to the left of the Angle slider. Then click and drag, drawing a line in your preview window, along the horizon or the line in your photo that you want to be straight.
Switch the orientation of your crop by pressing X on the keyboard.
Tip: Use the lines in the crop editor to help compose your image using the rule of thirds. The rule of thirds states that images are more appealing when the focal point (the main subject) sits on the intersection of the third lines.
The tone curve is another way to adjust the exposure and contrast of your photos. In the Tone Curve panel, there is a box with a diagonal line going through it. Clicking and dragging anywhere on the line will create a new point in the line. You can also adjust the line by using the sliders beneath this box.
Again, you can adjust the highlights, lights, darks, and shadows of an image with the tone curve.
You might have heard of the “S-Curve” when it comes to photo editing. This is the type of curve that adds contrast to your photo. To get an S-Curve, drag the highlights up and drag the darks down. This makes the line in the Tone Curve appear S-shaped, adding contrast to your image.
Below the Tone Curve panel is the HSL / Color / B&W panel. Click on the respective text to open up the editing module in that panel.
HSL stands for Hue, Saturation, and Luminance. Hue changes the color tones of a photo. Saturation adjusts the saturation of specific colors in a photo. Luminance adjusts to the brightness of a specific color.
With the HSL panel selected, and the Hue tab selected within that panel, you’ll see a variety of color sliders. Dragging any of these sliders to the left or right will change the hue of the respective color range. For example, dragging the Orange slider to the left will make the orange-colored part of your photo more red. Dragging to the right will make those parts more yellow.
The Saturation and Luminance tabs work the same way. In the saturation tab, dragging the Blue slider to the left will desaturate just the blues of your photo. Using this tool, you can desaturate your entire image except for one color. To do this, drag all of the color sliders to the left. Then choose the one color you want to remain saturated, and drag it to the right.
You can use this tool to make blue skies look more blue without affecting the rest of the photo. Another example would be making a red flower brighter in a field of green grass.
Another way to use this tool is by clicking the little circle icon on the top left of this panel. Then click any part of your photo in the preview panel and drag it up and down. This will adjust the Hue, Saturation, or Luminance of that color, depending on what tab you are in.
The Color tab in this panel is actually the same as the HSL tab. In the Color tab, you are just viewing each color, one at a time with all three options: Hue, Saturation, and Luminance.
The Black-and-White tab is just for adjusting the luminance of individual colors. Since with a black-and-white image there is no color, you can’t adjust the saturation and hue of those colors.
One of the most popular questions about editing a photo is: How do you sharpen an image? Luckily, Lightroom has some amazing sharpening tools. You can access the sharpening tools in the Detail panel.
The amount slider adds more or less sharpening. If editing a RAW image, the default setting will be 25. If editing a JPEG, it will be set to 0. Be careful when sharpening an image. It is very easy to over-sharpen. This will create harsh lines at the edges of objects. Sharpening will also add noise.
The radius slider adjusts the size of sharpening around edges. What the number corresponds to is how many pixels from the edge is being sharpened. 1.0 means sharpening spreads 1 pixel from the edges in your photo. It is recommended to keep this number below 1.5.
The detail slider adjusts how much sharpening happens around the edges of a photo. Setting detail to 0 will only sharpen very large edges. A higher value above 75 will sharpen even small edges. A higher number means more noise, so try to stay around or below 50.
The masking slider decreases noise created by the amount and detail sliders. This is a great tool for photos with blurry backgrounds or lots of negative space that doesn’t need to be sharpened.
Like everything in photography, sharpening is a delicate balance between all of these settings.
When you shoot a photo in a darker situation with a high ISO, with most cameras the photo will end up having digital noise. First, you have to know what type of noise you have. Zoom into your photo where it is very noisy by clicking on the image in the preview panel at that spot. Is the noise a bunch of multicolored pixels when it should be a solid color? Or are the pixels less colorful, looking more like grain?
Decrease noise in your photos by dragging the Luminance or Color slider to the right. Start around 25 and see how it looks. Sliding it too far to the right will make your images look fake. Use the before-and-after views to see how the noise is being reduced.
The detail slider will adjust the noise threshold. Sliding to the right will allow more detail, which might mean more noise. Sliding to the left will decrease the detail, and therefore decrease the noise.
Under the luminance slider is the contrast slider. Decreasing the contrast will create a smoother image, but will also decrease the contrast of your image.
Under the noise slider is the smoothness slider, which will try to smooth out any color splotches/pixelation that occurs with the noise.
The Lens Corrections panel contains a lot of advanced editing tools that we won’t go into in this tutorial. The main thing you’ll want to know about is enabling profile corrections based on your lens. Each lens is different. Because of the shape and quality of lenses, you might end up with curved or vignetted edges. To correct for these and other lens differences, Lightroom allows you to automatically adjust what your photo looks like based on the lens you shot with.
Open the Lens Corrections panel. Click Profile. Check the box next to Enable Profile Corrections. If you used a lens that Lightroom recognizes, choose Auto from the Setup dropdown menu. Otherwise, choose Custom. Then choose the Make, Model, and Profile of your lens.
Once you’ve done this, your photo will adjust. Typically the edges of your photo will warp to make your photo flatter without any edge distortion. Any vignetting due to your lens might be brightened.
Obviously, this isn’t a necessary adjustment. Most photographers choose a lens because they like how it looks. They like the natural vignetting. So, this is no means an adjustment you’ll need to make.
One of the last editing panels is the Effects panel. In this panel, you can add post-crop vignetting. What does post-crop vignetting mean? It means that you can add a vignette to the cropped edges of your photo, and not the pre-cropped edges.
First, choose the Style of vignetting. Highlight Priority allows the highlights to show through a vignette. This is good for images of bright skies or other images with bright edges. Color Priority won’t adjust for the highlights of your photo. Paint Overlay is basically just adding a vignette layer to your photo without adjusting for anything in the photo. Highlight Priority creates a more natural vignette.
Next, move the Amount slider to the right or left. Sliding to the left will add a dark vignette. Sliding to the right will add a light or white vignette.
The Midpoint slider increases or decreases the size of the vignette. Slide to the left to make the vignette bigger (closer to the center of the image). Slide to the right to make the vignette smaller (closer to the photo edges).
The Roundness slider changes the type of vignette from a round to square vignette. Dragging to the left will create a more square-like vignette.
The Feather slider adds more feathering to the vignette. Drag all the way to the left to create a solid frame. Drag all the way to the right to make the vignette fade softly from the midpoint to the edges.
Lastly, the Highlights slider allows or disallows the highlights to shine through the vignette. Dragging to the left will block the highlights from coming through the vignette. Dragging to the right will allow the highlights to show through the vignette.
Another effect you might want to add to your photos is grain.
Drag the Amount slider to the right to add more grain to your image.
Drag the Size slider to the right to make the grain particles bigger.
Drag the Roughness slider to the right to make the grain more jagged and contrasted.
Here are some situational edits that you might need to do to your photos using Lightroom.
The spot removal tool is the circular icon next to the crop button right above the Basic edits panel. You can also get to this tool by pressing the keyboard shortcut Q.
Choose the brush type. Clone works similar to the Clone Stamp in Photoshop, where you will be able to copy a part of the photo to another part. The Heal brush uses samples of the area that you select to more intelligently fix blemishes. For fixing blemishes, choose the Heal brush.
Adjust the size, feather, and opacity of the tool using the sliders. Adjust the size so that the brush is just slightly larger than the blemish you want to remove. Add some feathering so the edges of the brush blend better with the original image.
Then hover your brush over the photo. Click the blemish. Or, click and drag to create a brush stroke over the photo. Lightroom will then try to fix the blemish by choosing another part of the image to use to cover up the blemish. You’ll notice that once you have unclicked your mouse, a second circle with a thicker edge appears. This is the area that Lightroom has selected to heal the blemish. If this spot isn’t where you want it, you can click and drag that circle to a better spot.
To understand this practically, let’s say you are removing a pimple on someone’s cheek. You would click the area where the pimple is. Lightroom would then choose a part of the skin that it thinks matches the pimple area. Ideally this is a part of the skin that is close to the pimple, that will have the same skin tone and shading. You wouldn’t want to use skin from the forehead or lips to heal the pimple. So, make sure that the selected area is very similar to the skin where the blemish is.
Once you have successfully removed the blemish or blemishes (because you can repeat this process as much as you’d like while using the tool), click the Done button on the bottom right of the preview window.
Lightroom makes it very easy to remove red eye caused by a bad camera flash. Just click the Red Eye button, which is below the Histogram, next to the Spot Removal filter. Then click and drag over the center of the eye. Lightroom will detect and remove the red eye from your selection.
The Graduated Filter is the next advanced adjustment. Click the Graduated Filter button, which is to the right of the Red Eye Removal button below the Histogram. Or, press the keyboard shortcut M. The graduated filter is for adjusting just one part of your image without affecting the rest.
A practical use for this filter is with horizons. Say you have a photo of a sunset on the ocean. You can edit just the sky using this filter, adding contrast, saturation, or any number of edits.
A new panel opens up with a new set of basic adjustments. If you start adjusting these sliders, nothing will happen. To start using this tool, click and drag across your image. You may notice that as soon as you start dragging, part of your photo changes. This is because the Exposure slider is automatically set to 1.00. You can change this later, but it is good to leave it at 1.00 so you know which side of the image you will be editing.
As you start to click and drag, you can rotate the filter so you are editing any part of the photo (top, bottom, left, right, corner, etc.). The further you click and drag, the more gradual the filter will appear from the edited part to the non-edited part of the photo. It is generally better to have the filter be more gradual. However, if you have a horizon line or other line in your image that will mask the edits you will make with this filter, it is okay to leave the gradual transition of this filter small.
Once you have set the filter across your image, now you can make adjustments with any of the sliders in the edit panel. You can even adjust the size, placement, and rotation of the filter line after setting it up. Click the center dot of the filter and drag to move the filter. Hover over the middle line of the filter, then click and drag to rotate. Click one of the outlines and drag it closer to or further away from the center to add a more gradual transition.
To add a new filter, click the New button at the top of the panel. Then start fresh by creating a new filter line.
To delete a filter, click the center dot of the filter and press the delete key on your keyboard.
When you are done using the Graduated Filter tool, click the Done button on the bottom right of the preview panel.
The Radial Filter tool works very similarly to the Graduated Filter tool. Click the Radial Filter button next to the Graduated Filter button to open up this tool and its panel. Or, you can press the keyboard shortcut Shift M.
Hover over your image in the preview window. Then click and drag to create a circular (radial) filter. You can adjust the size by clicking the edges and dragging them in or out. You can move the filter by clicking and dragging the center button.
Make adjustments to the outside of this circle by adjusting the sliders in the Edit panel.
You can also add more or less feathering using the Feather slider at the bottom of the panel. This will make the effects appear more gradually around the circle.
If you want this filter to edit what is inside the circle rather than what is outside, click the Invert Mask checkbox.
A great practical use for this is brightening faces in a group shot. Add an inverted radial filter mask around people’s faces to brighten them up and make them stand out. Just add some exposure and a little bit of clarity to your radial filter to make faces pop.
To create a new radial filter, click the New button at the top of the panel. Then repeat the previous steps.
When you are done using the Radial Filter tool, click the Done button on the bottom right of the preview panel.
The Adjustment Brush allows you to make edits to very specific parts of your image. Click the Adjustment Brush button (to the right of the Radial Filter button) or press K on your keyboard to bring up this tool and its panel.
What you will be doing with this tool is “brushing” the parts of your image that you want to make adjustments to. First, it will be beneficial to change the brush settings.
Increase or decrease the size of the brush by dragging the Size slider to the left or right.
Add feathering to soften the edges of the brush with the Feather slider. In most cases, it is good to have some feathering.
The Flow and Density slider adjusts how fast and how strong the adjustments take place. A Flow of less than 100 will allow the adjustment to gradually happen as you brush your photo. A Density of less than 100 will basically decrease the opacity or the strength of the effect.
Once you have set your brush settings, click and drag across your photo to “brush on” your edits. You can then adjust the edits of the brushed area by moving the adjustment sliders.
This could be used to edit very specific parts of an image (someone’s eyes, lips, teeth, etc.). Adding saturation to lips will make them look more lush. Desaturating and brightening teeth will make them look whiter. Brightening eyes makes them look great. Or, you could use it to create a custom vignette around a subject.
Once you are done with one brush, click the New button at the top of the panel to add a completely new adjustment brush effect.
When you are finished using the Adjustment Brush tool, click the Done button on the bottom right of the preview panel.
One of the best reasons to use Lightroom is to expedite photo editing. Being able to quickly copy and paste the editing adjustments you’ve made on one photo to another makes photo editing more efficient and fun. For example, if you’re a wedding photographer that is taking hundreds, if not thousands, of photos on one day in only a few different locations, it would be painful to have to edit each photo individually. With Lightroom, you can make adjustments to one photo, copy and paste those settings to another photo, and make small adjustments if necessary.
To copy the settings of a photo, click the Copy button on the lower left. A Copy Settings window will pop up. This is where you choose which types of adjustments you’ll want to copy to the next photo. Select them individually, or click the Check All button on the bottom. Typically you won’t want to copy over Crop, Spot Removal, or Local Adjustments because these have to do with only that specific photo. Once you have checked all of the settings you’d like to copy, click the copy button in the lower right side of the window.
Note: You can also open the Copy Settings window by pressing Command C (on a Mac) or Control C (on a PC) on your keyboard.
Next, open to the photo you would like to copy the selected settings to using the filmstrip. Then click the Paste button in the lower left or press the keyboard shortcut Command V (on a Mac) or Control V (on a PC).
To copy settings to multiple photos at once, select all of the photos you want to edit in the filmstrip. Use shift-click to select a series or command/control-click to select multiple photos not in a series.
Right-click one of the selected photos. Hover over Develop Settings. Then choose Paste Settings. This will paste the settings that you previously copied to all of the photos.
Lightroom has a number of preset adjustments and filters that can be applied to photos.
A preset is basically a set of adjustments that are saved to use for later. You can even create your own preset to use later. Maybe you edited a beautiful sunset shot with the perfect saturation and other effects. Instead of having to re-do the same edit for a future sunset photo, you can use a preset.
Find the pre-installed presets that Lightroom has on the left side of the Develop module. Underneath the Navigator panel is the Presets panel. Go through these and click on a preset to see what it does to your photo.
You’ll notice that when you apply a preset, settings on the right side (in the Basic, Tone Curve, HSL/Color/B&W, etc.) will change. You can then adjust the preset by editing these settings.
Another amazing thing about the Lightroom community is that you can find free and paid presets online. Search for “Lightroom Presets” online to find presets. Download any preset and save it to your computer.
To install the preset into Lightroom, right-click anywhere within the Presets panel. Click Import. Then find the preset file that you downloaded. Lightroom will then install that preset, and you will be able to use it whenever you open Lightroom.
You can even create folders in the Preset panel to organize the presets you download.
Once you have made all of your edits to the photo, you will have to export them so you can share them with the world.
To export photos, select the photo or photos from your filmstrip that you want to export. Go to the File menu at the top of the program and click Export.
An Export window will pop up with a variety of export options.
First, choose the export location. This is where your files will end up. Choose the folder that already exists on your computer, or choose Put in Subfolder and type in the folder name. This will create a new folder and put your exported photos into that folder.
Next, choose how you want the exported photos to be named. There are a few different options in the Rename To drop-down menu. Or, you can choose Custom Name to come up with your own names. If you are exporting multiple photos, choose Custom Name – Sequence. Write out the Custom Text, which will be the actual name of the photo. Then type in the number you want the sequence to start at. For example, if you are exporting 5 photos from a recent trip to Paris, maybe you want to the custom text to be Paris and the start number to be 1. The exported files will then be named Paris-1, Paris-2, Paris-3, Paris-4, and Paris-5.
Skip the Video section.
Next, choose the file settings. Choose an image format. JPEG is great for sharing online or on a disk because the file sizes are small. Choose a quality with the quality slider. I generally just set this to 100 for final exports. Typically, you’ll want to leave the color space to sRGB, unless you know you want a different color space. And lastly, check the Limit File Size To checkbox if you want to make sure the exported photos aren’t exported larger than you want. This is helpful if you are posting photos online and can’t upload a photo larger than a specific file size.
Next, adjust the image size. For most cases, leave this unchecked to get the best quality export. If you do have a specific size that you want, you can set the Width and/or Height limit. This is also beneficial if you are posting online and need a specific dimensions. Setting the resolution to 150 will result in high-quality photos.
The rest of the options can be used on a case-by-case basis.
When you are happy with the settings, click the Export button on the bottom of this window. Lightroom will then process all of the images. You can then find the exported files in the folder where you saved them.
To add a watermark to your photos, when exporting your photos check the Watermark export option. In the drop-down menu, click Edit Watermarks. The Watermark Editor will pop up. Here you can type in the text that you want to appear as a watermark. You can also upload a graphic that can be used as a watermark.
Use the Text Options to adjust the character settings. You have options for font choice, style (bold, italics, normal), alignment, and color. Below that, you can add a shadow to your text. Check the box on or off to include a shadow or not. The opacity, offset, radius, and angle settings have to do with how the shadow appears.
Use the Watermark Effects to adjust to size and position of the watermark.
Click Save and name your watermark to be used in the future.
Then export your photo and the photos will have your watermark.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this Lightroom tutorial. You should now have a better grasp of how to use this powerful tool to improve your photos. As mentioned throughout this tutorial, there aren’t many hard-and-fast rules in photography. The same goes with photo editing. You’re the artist when it comes to your own photography. Some photographers do very minimal editing, leaving their photos more natural. Other photographers like to use Lightroom to add filter-like looks to their photos. It is up to you. Lightroom is an amazing tool. You’re the artist.
Last Updated April 2021
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