10 Adobe Lightroom Beginner Tips

When processing an image in Lightroom, half the battle is knowing enough about the many tools on offer to help you extract as much detail from your photos as possible. In the following section we show you just a few of those essential tips to help you along.

1 Quick Develop Additions

The Quick Develop panel is found in the Library module. Your Library module allows you to view the Metadata of your images, add comments, and set up the keywords for your selected photos. Over and above that, is the Quick Develop panel. This lets you do some fairly simple, but powerful, batch editing to your photo library. You have control over White Balance and the various aspects of Tone Control. At the bottom of the list, you will see the Clarity and Vibrance controls. Now, if you hold the Alt key on your keyboard, those options will change to Sharpening and Saturation. This extra little addition, means you are less likely to have to head over to the Develop module to make any additional edits.

1 Quick Develop Additions

2 Solo Mode

This is a very simple, but effective trick when working in the Develop module. It won’t have escaped your attention that there are an awful lot of sidebar options and tools available. Sometimes, you may find yourself having to scroll up and down the open tool panels, because, when a few of them are open at any one time, they do take up a lot of vertical real estate on your screen and cycling between them not only takes time but also gets a bit frustrating. This trick applies to both the tools in the right sidebar of the Develop module as well as the ones on the left. Hold the Alt key on your keyboard and click on one of the small triangles to the right of each tool header bar. You should notice that the triangle is now greyed out rather than solid. Now, Lightroom will only expand the tool you choose. All others will remain closed until you click on a new one to open, which also closes the currently active one.

3 Quick Keywords

Another little trick that will aid your workflow in the Library module is the ability to assign quick keywords. Rather than typing in the Keyword Tags field, there is a panel below called Keyword Set. You can choose from a number of options such as Outdoor Photography, Recent Keywords, and Portrait Photography. You can also edit your own set for a more specific approach to keyword usage. Each one will present you with a number of generic options in the panel below. For instance, Outdoor Photography will present options such as Landscape, Macro, or Flowers & Plants, which you can use to add tags to a batch selection of relevant images. However, if you press the Alt key, a series of numbers will appear next to the keywords on offer. Now you can simply press a number to apply that keyword to your group of images.

4 Panel Reset

This is another example of a superbly simple trick to aid you when editing in the Develop module. We’re sure there any many artists and photographers who have been working on an image and decide that they need to reset a panel to its default zeroed-out state. Each slider can be reset manually by double-clicking it, but what happens if you have made substantial edits, using the HSL panel, in each of the Hue, Saturation, Luminance, and Colour sections? That’s a lot of sliders to double-click to reset to default. Then there are all the other panels as well, so you would be forgiven for planting you face in your palm at the prospect. Luckily, there is a super-simple solution. Simply hold down the Alt key again and you will see a Reset option appear for each setting. Click once to reset each setting.

5 Tone Curve Finesse

The Tone Curve in Lightroom is a powerful method for adjusting the tones in your image. You have control over the brightness of the entire tonal range, from the darkest shadows to the brightest highlights and everything in between. You can add control points to the curve and modify it to suit your requirements. It is a relatively small box to work within, especially on a smaller screen, or with a mouse set to higher tracking speeds and movement. Now and again, you may find that precise positioning of the control points may elude you. Not to worry, Lightroom and the trusty Alt key has you covered once more. By pressing the Alt key, you alter the sensitivity of the cursor. The upshot being that if you move your cursor now, the control points will move a much shorter distance. This gives you much greater fine-tuning of the position of each point.

6 Black and White Preview

This is probably one of the simplest tricks out there. While you are working on an image in the Develop mode, if you want to see what it would look like in black and white, just press the V key on your keyboard to view in mono. Then tap V again to go back to your colour original. Simple.

7 Set Default

This is quite a useful function if you shoot with more than one camera from different manufacturers. Although Canon and Nikon cameras, for instance, can shoot amazing images, they do both employ different in-camera colour technology that may require slightly different editing strategies and certain tweaks to the baseline settings in Lightroom in order to get them to match at the point of final output. With one sample image open, if you press the Alt key and click on the Set Default button in the lower right of the screen, you can save your baseline edits and automatically apply them only to any subsequently imported Raw files that were taken with that particular camera. You can set up Default edits for each camera that you use, knowing that you have been saved a number of editing clicks already. Now you have your photos from different cameras all starting exactly where you want them.

8 Split Toning Display

The use of Split Toning is a cool creative tool that lets you add a certain colour feel to your images by altering the Hue and Saturation of the Highlights and Shadows in your photos. Whether you are trying to subtly alter a colour cast, or radically adjust the colours present in your photo, it is a great little tool often used by photographers the world over. The problem is that altering the colours of your Highlights and Shadows is a bit tedious as you have to constantly jockey the Hue and Saturation sliders to see the effect you’re having. To make things slightly easier, if you hold the Alt key, you can select the Hue for Highlights and the Saturation is automatically set at 100%, so you can see that colour at full strength and decide if that is the right tone for you. Then you can dial in the amount of Saturation you want to use for the Highlights. You can do the same for the Shadows.

9 Lights Out

This one could not be simpler, yet it is still something that you may find to be of great use when editing your photos. Lights Out mode lets you focus more on your image, rather than on the interface that surrounds it. While you are working on an image, if you press the L key once, it will dim the interface around your image while leaving the photo at full brightness. Press L once more and the interface will disappear completely leaving a black background behind your photos. Pressing L one more time will reset the interface to full brightness again.

10 Spot Removal Delete

This is a very simple trick that can make the deletion of many Spot Removal edits a slightly simpler task than right-clicking each one and selecting Delete from the dropdown menu that appears. You can hit Reset, of course, but that removes all the Spot Removal edits and you may not want that. To target specific ones, you can easily press the Alt key. This results in a small Scissors icon appearing in place of your cursor. Now you can simply click once on each of the Spot Removal edits you want to remove and they are gone.

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Mark Frost

Mark started work as a commercial artist during the good old days of Letraset, spray mount and having to process your photos at a local chemist. Having discovered his passion for photography, Photoshop and the wonders of digital image manipulation, he has not looked back. He is well on his way to owning more cameras than he’s had hot dinners.

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