My Favourite Lightroom TechniquesJun 16, 2020
There are so many things to love about Adobe's Lightroom. It's a fantastic post-processing program that can infuse just the right finishing touches into your images. I use both Lightroom and Photoshop in the post-processing of my photos, but I always begin my workflow in Lightroom. Here are a few of my favourite tips and tricks that are specific to my Lightroom post-processing workflow.
1. White Balance
You should always aim for accurate white balance in-camera by using a preset or by manually setting a custom white balance for the type of light you are photographing. However, very often, the white balance in an image needs a touch of tweaking in post-processing. Lightroom makes white balance adjustments simple. Located at the very top of the Lightroom control panels is the Basic panel. There you will find the WB adjustment sliders. It's easy to tweak the temperature cooler towards blue or warmer towards yellow by pulling the slider in either direction. The same goes for tint. A green tint will result in moving the slider to the left and a more magenta tint to the right.
I find the dropper tool fantastic when tweaking white balance. Simply click on the dropper tool then click on a neutral colour; usually, grey works best, and Lightroom automatically sets the white balance for you. If you want, you can make slight adjustments from there with the WB sliders.
ISO 800, 105mm, f2.8, 1/1250SS
2. Reduce Highlights
Like white balance, the highlights slider is found in the Basic panel in Lightroom. This slider is one of my favourite tools in which to bring back detail to bright highlights, as long as the highlights are not blown out. Remember that if you blow out your highlights in the camera, you will not be able to bring back detail within those highlights.
I always aim to capture the best straight out of camera (SOOC) image possible. This means that I want my SOOC images to be well exposed and retain as much dynamic range as possible. Often this means that my highlights are very bright. In my post-processing, I like to pull back on my highlights to bring back some detail. The highlight slider in Lightroom makes highlight recovery a breeze and is one of my most used techniques within my image post-processing workflow.
ISO 200, 50mm, f3.5, 1/4000SS
3. Increase Shadows
The shadows slider can also be found in the Basic panel in Lightroom directly underneath the highlights slider.
On the opposite end of the dynamic range spectrum from highlights are shadows. This slider is one of my go-to edits in the majority of my landscape images because it brings back details into the high dynamic scenes that are often associated with landscape photographs.
ISO 100, 26mm, f11, 0.4sec
4. HSL Panel
The HSL panel in LR is one powerful panel overall. There are two colours that I typically target within my Lightroom post-processing workflow. The orange luminosity slider is one of my favourite sliders for targeting skin tone. A slight bump in luminosity brightens skin and can make it pop. This slider also works when editing a black and white image. Skin brightens nicely, often creating the dynamic contrast I am looking for in a conversion, without the need to target shadows or blacks. This slider is powerful, and a little adjustment goes a long way.
My second favourite slider within the HSL panel is the green hue and saturation sliders. Neon green grass is common, and I think these two sliders do an incredible job of pulling out and tweaking grass colour. The hue slider does an excellent job of pulling out yellow saturation in the grass, while a slight reduction in saturation tones down the overall colour vibrancy of bright green.
ISO 200, 200mm, f3.2, 1/500SS
5. Remove Chromatic Aberration
Chromatic aberration is a lens' inability to focus colour to a single point. The result is an unwanted, usually green or magenta, colour fringing or ghosting in an image. This colour fringing can be most often seen in high contrast areas within an image. For example, where trees converge with a bright sky.
Lightroom removes chromatic aberration quickly and effectively. This tool is found under the Lens Correction Panel. Often, all that is needed to correct Chromatic Aberration within an image is a quick checkmark in the box beside "Remove Chromatic Aberration." Should further tweaking be required, it's very easy to do in the manual section of this panel. Simply select the eyedropper tool and click on the colour fringing. You can fine-tune further within the amount and hue sliders.
6. Auto Transform
A tilted image is unsettling. It's always a good idea to keep the horizon and other lines in a picture as straight as possible. Lightroom's Transform panel is the perfect place to tweak your image's perspective. A simple click of the Auto button gives Lightroom permission to straighten out the picture for you. Any further tweaking is easy to do within this panel as well.
ISO 100, 125mm, f3.5, 1/800SS
When it comes to post-processing, Lightroom is a powerful and user-friendly program. If you are not already using Lightroom, Adobe offers a free trial so that you can experiment with all the fantastic options inside this program before committing. Once you get started in Lightroom, though, I think you'll see how easy it is to use and how effective the options are to developing your images.