How to Edit Photos in Lightroom

How to Edit Photos in Lightroom

Let’s take your Lightroom editing to the next level. Whether you just starting out in photo editing or you’re quite advanced, it’s extremely important and beneficial to know how to edit in Lightroom like other photographers.

Step by Step Guide: Editing in Lightroom

There are many photography challenges, when it comes to image editing. The most important part of learning how to edit photos in Lightroom is to know your way around the Develop module. There you may perform all sorts of modifications. Now I’m going to specify which modifications exactly you can make in this module.

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Step 1. Do Basic Adjustments

basic lightroom editsbasic lightroom edits
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Below the Histogram, at top-right, you’ll find the Basic tab. If you are wondering how to edit a photo in Lightroom, that’s where you may begin. The tab’s sliders are quite understandable and let you perform the most basic modifications. I highly recommend you to figure out how to read the histogram to ensure that your actions are correct. In the majority of cases, the right and left ends of the graph aren’t supposed to touch the histogram ends. Otherwise, the relevant detail would be lost and the tones would be ‘clipped’.

basic editing in lightroom

  • Regulate lighting: Modify shadows, whites, exposure, highlights and blacks through the controls in the Tone panel.
  • Set white balance: Resort to the white balance controls for correcting the colors.
  • Regulate color saturation: Drag Saturation and Vibrance sliders to intensify or mute the colors.

Step 2. Crop and Straighten the Photo

cropping lightroom editscropping lightroom edits

Certain Lightroom editing tutorials state that an image must be straightened and cropped. Actually, it isn’t a strict rule, as every modification in Lightroom doesn’t destroy an image once and for all. If there are some problems with composition or the picture features unnecessary areas, it is fixed with the Crop Tool. What is more, you may ‘zoom’ in and put emphasis on the desired subject.

Step 3. Improve Details

sharpening lightroom editssharpening lightroom edits

Noise reduction, clarity and sharpening are closely connected with each other, so they are conveniently located side by side in the Detail and Effects Panel. By modifying these parameters, you may effectively increase detailization, clarity and contrast of an image.

editing in lightroom improving details

Move the Dehaze slider to the right to get over hazy areas of a picture to bring out the intensity of colors and details.

Move the Noise Reduction slider to the right to reduce spots of grayscale noise. Regulate Clarity to increase midtone contrast in your Lightroom edit.

Regulate the Sharpening sliders to raise the sharpness of the whole picture. This is an especially useful tool, if you didn’t use any tripod, when taking photos.

Step 4. Fix Сhromatic Аberration

chromatic aberration lightroom editschromatic aberration lightroom edits

Those, who wish to know how to edit photos like a pro, shouldn’t forget about fixing lens distortions. Deal with the distortions caused by your lens, namely 'converging verticals', vignetting and chromatic aberration through the Lens Corrections panel. You need to check the Enable Profile Correction box if you want your lens to be included in Lightroom's lens database. Generally, Lightroom is capable of reading EXIF data and recognizes the lens correctly.

editing in lightroom fixing distortions

In case you are unable to see your lens in the database, you may effortlessly perform manual corrections. With the profile checked, tweaking, vignetting and distortion processed are fixed with sliders.

Step 5. Make Localised Adjustments

spot removal lightroom edits

Tools from the Basic panel in Lightroom as well as other panels give you an opportunity to perform ‘general’ modifications to a picture. However, the program offers tools which affect only a selected area.

The Graduated Filter alters the pictures with a linear gradient, for instance, to imitate the effect of an ND grad lens filter.

The Radial Filter has almost identical function along with letting you generate elliptical or circular gradients.

Spot Removal Tool assists you in eliminating undesirable elements when you edit photos in Lightroom.

editing in lightroom localized adjustments

The Adjustment Brush is designed for painting modifications into particular areas of a picture. Press O on the keyboard and the masks for these modifications will become visible. Also, the brush for Radial and Gradual Filters will be enabled, so you can tweak the mask.

Step 6. Use the Tone Curve

tone curve lightroom edits

The tonal range in the shots is represented by the tone curve. The top right corner is responsible for highlights, the bottom left – for shadows, the middle – for midtones. The midtones are additionally separated into dark and light parts. These aren’t advanced Lightroom techniques, so you will have no difficulties modifying these parameters. You should only know what you want to achieve in the end.

editing in lightroom tone curve

To illustrate, when you need to darken the midtones, click in the middle of the Tone Curve and slightly move it downward.

Step 7. Work with Color Using HSL Sliders

hsl lightroom editshsl lightroom edits

Saturation deals with color intensity. It increases the brightness of primary colors and weakens the secondary ones.

The Hue enables you to completely alter the colors in the picture while certain colors remain unaffected.

Luminance intensifies the colors turning them into more vibrant or muted.

editing in lightroom hsl sliders

Practice tweaking these parameters when learning how to edit with Lightroom to fully grasp their peculiarities and effect on a picture.

Step 8. Split Tone the Image

split tone lightroom editssplit tone lightroom edits

To contribute to a more singular and unique look of the image, use split toning. Thus, you’ll tweak the colors in highlights and shadows separately.

editing in lightroom split tone

Often, when you edit photo in Lightroom, you notice that yellow color is over the limit in highlights because of street lamps. Another variant is too much blues in the shadows due to the puddles. That’s where split toning, with its ability to modify these areas separately, comes in handy. Furthermore, Lightroom developers added a balance slider to this tool. It ensures that you achieve a proper and accurate shift from shadows to highlights. The great advantage of split toning is that it doesn’t have any rules. You may experiment with colors in whichever way you like.

Step 9. Adjust Colors with Camera Calibration

editing in lightroom split tone

The Camera Calibration Panel is frequently underestimated in various Lightroom photo editing techniques. It is connected with the fact that these effects aren’t fully clarified and the panel doesn’t occupy primary places in the list of panels. Nevertheless, it may assist you in bringing the color grading of your imagery to the next level. Altering these parameters is different from those in the HSL panel since they influence the look of blue, red or green colors on the whole.

editing in lightroom camera calibration

Once you alter blues in the HSL panel, the blue parts of the picture will be affected. But when you alter blues in the Camera Calibration panel, all blue pixels are affected as a unit. The result of the alterations depends on a picture itself. Frankly speaking, the majority of my images appear incredible as soon as I drag the Blue Primary slider to the right. After such a modification, not only blue but all colors become more vivid.

As for the Shadow Tint, its effect is more direct. It alters the shadows’ color cast while green and magenta neutralize each other.

This “Lightroom: Mastery People and Portraits Course” from professional photographer Mike Newton will teach you all the Lightroom secrets he uses to edit portraits and turn average shots into stunning photos.

Step 10. Apply Final Tweaks

before after lightroom editsbefore after lightroom edits

Congratulations, you have finished! Check twice whether there are areas which need to be enhanced. Slightly tweak some parameters if you see that something is wrong. Still, I believe that one of the essential Lightroom tips for beginners is not to go overboard and stick to the original version of a picture as much as possible. To compare before and after pictures, press the backslash key () once. As a result, the “Before” picture would appear. Press the same key again to view the “After” picture.

How to Edit Photos in Lightroom Mobile?

I suggest you looking through a few simple steps to understand how to edit photos in Lightroom app. First, find the edit menu in the top corner of the screen and tap on it. You will see several options available for photo editing.

Find out more about Lightroom mobile app and how to install Lightroom mobile presets to make photo editing fast on your smartphone.

Step 1. Crop and Straighten Crooked Photos

editing with lightroom mobile step 1
editing with lightroom mobile step 1

If the composition of your photos is distorted, you can apply straightening and cropping. Using the Crop tool, select the required aspect ratio from the menu. You can also do this by dragging check markers. Use the rotary dial to make your photo straight. After this, save your Lightroom edit result by clicking on the check mark.

Step 2. Use Profiles for Quick and Quality Results

editing with lightroom mobile step 2
editing with lightroom mobile step 2

If you want to give your images the original look or use filters, then go to the Profile menu. Select the filter you like and apply it.

Step 3. Adjust the Exposure

editing with lightroom mobile step 3
editing with lightroom mobile step 3

When editing photos in Lightroom, you may need to fix the light. You can do this by adjusting the Exposure and Contrast values in the Light tab. To affect the dark and bright areas of your picture you need to darken the shadows and increase the brightness.

Step 4. Adjust Colors and Intensity

editing with lightroom mobile step 4
editing with lightroom mobile step 4

Sometimes the natural vividness is not visible in the picture. In this case, you must edit photo in Lightroom using the Color tab. Make the image colder or warmer by dragging the Temperature slider. The intensity is changed by the Saturation slider. If you need to adjust muted tones, use the Vibrance slider.

Step 5. Apply the Effects

editing with lightroom mobile step 5
editing with lightroom mobile step 5

Sometimes photographs contain many details requiring improvement. So it’s time for another step of Lightroom mobile tutorial. Work with the middle tones of your picture. Go to Effects and change the contrast by adjusting Clarity. Thanks to the Vignette slider, you can brighten or darken the sides of your picture. Focus on the object in the center of the wrap and move the slider to the left if you want to darken the edges.

Step 6. Improve the Details

editing with lightroom mobile step 6
editing with lightroom mobile step 6

It is possible to change the Noise and Sharpness values in the Details tab. Lightroom photo sharpening software allows you to get more intense sharpening and noise reduction if you set higher values.

Step 7. Lens Correction

editing with lightroom mobile step 7
editing with lightroom mobile step 7

The lens profile can be enabled or disabled by default in the Optics tab. You can also get rid of chromatic aberration.

Step 8. Applying Final Tweaks

editing with lightroom mobile step 8
editing with lightroom mobile step 8

Even if you already know how to edit in Lightroom, you may be dissatisfied with the results. You can delete all changes by clicking on the undo icon. If you need to redo an operation, tap the redo sign. If you want to completely cancel the entire photo editing, use the Reset function. You can also compare the results with the original image by holding the Before icon.

Editing Photos with Lightroom Presets

premium vintage photography lightroom presetpremium vintage photography lightroom preset

If you need to edit a lot of photos, Lightroom presets are a great decision. They will help you cope with the tasks quickly and efficiently. These filters are ready-made settings that you can apply to multiple images. You can use already developed presets (both paid and free) or create your own.

Get more information on how to use Lightroom presets as well as how to create Lightroom presets yourself and do batch editing faster and professionally.

Imagine, you need to take a few hundred shots in the same lighting conditions. Find out how to edit photos in Lightroom and start improving the first picture. Then you save the settings as a preset. Further, you do not need to edit the rest of the photos individually. You simply apply the ready-made settings and get a similar look. Another way is to find filters created by professionals, download them and apply to your photos.

1. Free Landscape Lightroom Preset "Vibrance”

This free Lightroom plugin influences dim outdoor shots with dull greenery. By applying this plug-in, you add some cool and blue tones, fix the saturation and brightness.

2. Free Vintage Lightroom Preset "Forest"

If your images need warm colors, then feel free to use this filter. It will make your pictures brighter, regardless of whether they were taken outdoors or indoors.

3. Free Wedding Lightroom Preset "Contrast”

Your pictures will be even more expressive and brilliant thanks to this preset. It will bring a little contrast and vibration to your wedding photography helping to enhance the image.

4. Free Portrait Lightroom Preset "Wind"

Thanks to this filter, your portrait images will shine with new colors and become brighter. Sunny yellow-green shadows fill the picture with energy and life.

5. Free Product Lightroom Preset "Clean White"

Using this preset you can improve the colors of your images. It gently cleans the dirty and dull cover revealing the true colors of your product photography. Get pure white and enjoy the brightness of the photo!

Lightroom CC Keyboard Shortcuts Cheat Sheet

Lightroom’s interface boasts of fast operation, but you may speed up the picture editing process with the hotkeys. However, there exist approximately 300 key combinations in Lightroom, which is quite a lot. You might be a genius with a prolific memory and remember them all, but not everyone is so capable. Therefore, I have put together Lightroom keyboard cheat sheets for your convenience.

1. Lightroom CC Keyboard Shortcuts for Develop Module

lightroom cc develop module

lightroom cc develop module

Hopefully, after you download this and learn by heart the most frequently used hotkeys, performing Lightroom edits won’t cause problems anymore.

2. Lightroom CC Keyboard Shortcuts for Library Module

lightroom cc develop module

lightroom cc develop module

Use these helpful shortcuts for library module with the help of this cheat sheet.

How to Export Photos from Lightroom CC?

The next step after making changes to the image settings is to export photos. You can use JPEG, PSD, or other types. If your shot in RAW mode, you need to convert images to a more convenient format. When you export your images, all changes and adjustments are saved in a new file. One of the advantages of image editing in Lightroom is its integration with many social networks such as Flickr or Facebook. As a result, you can share your pictures immediately after their improvement.

Step 1. Bring Up the Export Window

exporting in Lightroom CC

To start exporting files, you need to open the Export window which can be found in the File menu. You can also use Ctrl/Cmd + Shift + E key combination.

Step 2. Specify Export Options and Export the Photos

exporting in Lightroom CC

In this picture, you can see how this window looks. Here you can choose the saving location of the file, its type, quality, naming convention, etc. Everything is very simple and clear. Check each item carefully and then click “Export” to save your Lightroom edits.

How to Import Photos in Lightroom CC?

Your image editing with Lightroom should start with the import. There are several methods of doing it.

importing in lightroom cc

The first one is to click File, then Import Photos and Video, or just press Ctrl + Shift + I. Either of those actions take you to the import page, where you are supposed to add chosen pictures to the Catalog.

importing in lightroom cc

Go to Preferences and check Show import dialog when a memory card is inserted if you want to get the import screen automatically opened.

The second, not so widespread method of importing is to create a folder on your hard drive specifically for image editing in Lightroom. This way, the pictures will be automatically imported from this folder.

Or simply click on File>Auto Import. It can significantly simplify the image post-production process. Keep in mind that this folder can import only pictures, not folders.

Learn how to import raw files into Lightroom in more detail to avoid some mistakes and make photo editing fast and convenient.

How to Download Lightroom for Free?

You might think that this is a joke but you can really edit photos in Lightroom for free. To be able to do this, you can use one of the following ways.

1. Lightroom CC Free Trial

Although Lightroom is quite expensive, you can check the program through a trial version. A free Cloud membership plan allows you to test the software and even begin to learn how to edit a photo in Lightroom. I would like to point out that you do not need to enter your credit card number to get a 4-day trial period. You can start working immediately after activation. Unfortunately, with one account you can use the Adobe Lightroom trial version only once.


2. Lightroom CC Mobile App

You may not know it, but Lightroom mobile app is absolutely free. If you travel a lot and you need a great app to be able to edit your shots while you're on the go, then download Lightroom CC Mobile app. Thanks to the portability and quality of this application, photo editing with Lightroom will always be available for you.

Mac App Store
download for windows

You can use the application for smartphones on Android and iOS platforms. By installing the mobile version, you can use an incredibly wide range of functions and features including filters, curves, organization, profiles, sharing, and many other useful things. You will be able to do almost as much as with the desktop version. You can also use the Sync Library feature with your other devices: a computer, tablet, etc. Therefore, while working during a flight and on a trip, you will have the feeling that you are sitting at your desk.

Naturally, the application has some limitations for premium features such as Healing Brush, geometry, custom settings, and the like.

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