Why Every Photographer Should Be Using Lightroom

by | 4 years ago

When I first heard about Lightroom, I was still using Photoshop and Bridge. I’d open a photo from Bridge into Camera Raw, retouch it, and then repeat for each and every photo. It took so much time! This is why I want to show you how Lightroom has made this process so much faster.

Presets and the Graduated Filter

Presets are one of my favorite Lightroom features; it saves so much time. You can use presets in Photoshop, but Photoshop doesn’t have the Radial and the Graduated Filters, which are precious to photographers for retouching photos. For example, I started with this photo in Lightroom.

Start by selecting the preset that works best for your image. On this one, I selected a preset that I call Golden Hour Linear.

Using a preset as a starting point, you can quickly tweak the settings to tailor-make the image the way you want. After applying a preset, I follow my usual workflow. Here, I set Blacks to –9, Whites to +57, and Highlights to 47. I added a Graduated Filter (M) over the sky, and lowered the Exposure to –0.95 and added some blue by dragging the Temp slider to –32. I also set the new Range Mask feature found in the local adjustment tools to Luminance and set the Range slider to 61/100 so the Graduated Filter doesn’t affect the mountains.

Radial Filters

On this photo, I thought it would be nice to use a Radial Filter (Shift-M) in the center of the photo so I can guide the eyes of the viewer to the center of the photo. I clicked on Invert so any changes would take place inside the oval boundary, and then raised the Exposure and lowered the Clarity to soften the clouds.

We could even do some dodging and burning with Radial Filters to make the photo more dynamic and interesting. Right-click inside an existing Radial Filter, and select Duplicate to make a copy of the filter. In this example, I duplicated the Radial Filter twice. I dragged the first duplicate into position and resized it using the control points, and then added some Exposure (0.42) and Clarity (56). For the second duplicate, I raised the Exposure to 0.13 and the Clarity to 50.

Synchronize Your Photos

When you shoot in manual, you usually have the same aperture, shutter speed, and ISO for images from the same photo shoot, so you have the ability to retouch a single image from the shoot and synchronize its settings with all the other photos from that shoot. Just edit your first photo, select all the images you want to synchronize in the Filmstrip, and click the Sync button near the bottom right. In the Synchronize Settings dialog, click the Check All button, and click Synchronize.

Survey Mode

Once you’ve retouched all your photos, you can compare your images at the press of a key. Press N to enter Survey mode, which displays all of the selected photos in a way that makes it easy to see which photos are going to work. You can Command-click (PC: Ctrl-click) any image in the Filmstrip to add it to the group of photos in Survey mode. Then just pick your favorite from the group.

That’s the power of Lightroom; it’s so easy to use, making it a great timesaver. Plus, you can be as creative as you want—the sky’s the limit!

I’m giving you some of my Lightroom presets so you can play around and see how cool presets can be! To import presets into Lightroom, go to the Develop module, Right-click on the set of presets to which you want to import the downloaded presets, select Import, navigate to the presets, and click Import. I hope that this helps you save some time when editing your own images Lightroom.