Featured Lifestyle Photography Tips

Photo editing in Lightroom

May 30, 2016

I’ve had so many people ask me how I edit my photos and so I thought I would share some easy tips and tricks about how I go about photo editing in Lightroom!

If you’ve seen my Instagram feed then you’ll know I’m really into light and bright photos that probably makes it seem like I’m always surrounded by great light.

However:

1) Lets face it I’m living in London and 6/7 days a week it’s likely to be cloudy or raining!

2) And secondly, unless you’re in a studio with balanced lighting, flashes and light reflectors, it can sometimes be difficult to capture the image you want straight from your camera.
ATTACHMENT DISPLAY SETTINGS

So I thought I’d give you a really easy tutorial in very plain, non-technical language explaining some of the settings I use to quickly edit a picture in Lightroom.

 

Photo Editing in Lightroom:

This is a pic of some peonies shot straight from my Sony A7ii camera in the afternoon.

Editing photos in Lightroom Settings: 35mm lens | f7.1 | 1/50sec | 6400 ISO

As you can see, the image is quite dark and there are a lot of shadows in the frame. I could take a brighter version of the image on my camera but the ISO is already quite high and my shutter speed is slow, so it’s best to finish the edit in Lightroom.

So here are some of the settings that I’ll use for editing most of my photos in Lightroom:

 

Temperature

What does the setting do?

• Temperature will help you control the blue/ yellow tones in the image.

Tips:

• If you take photos when it is sunny or you’re in a room with warm lighting, they are likely to have a real yellow tint (like the image below on the left). Move the slider back towards the blue side to counteract the yellow.

• Similarly, if you’re in a grey room or in a room with blue tinted glass then it is likely to turn your photos blue. Move the slider back towards the yellow section to counteract the blue.

• In the image below you can see the difference between a warm, neutral and cooler temperature picture. A temperature of 4600 is probably too cool whilst 4800 seems to give a neutral toned image.

• I usually move it quite far to the blue side and then start pulling it back because I prefer cooler toned photos to warm toned photos.

Editing photos in Lightroom

 

Exposure

What does the setting do?

• Exposure will brighten or darken your photographs (emulates increasing the shutter speed on your camera).

Tips: 

• Move the slider to the right if you want to brighten up your photos and left if you want to darken your photos to make them darker and more ‘moody’.

• Don’t be tempted to ‘over expose’ your photos by pulling the slider too far right as you may lose some detail in your picture.

• It’s also probably worth pointing out that my Sony has a fantastic dynamic range which means I have a lot of wiggle room to play with the exposure settings. My old canon didn’t have this same capability and this was one of the reasons why I swapped it for a sony!
Editing photos in Lightroom

 

Contrast

What does the setting do?

• Contrast will change the blacks in the photos to make the colours seem more or less intense.

Tips:

• I usually don’t play around with the contrast a lot as as it make the colours look over-saturated and increase the blacks (image on the left). If I want to bring out some black objects then I will usually move ‘Blacks’ slider instead (see Blacks setting below).

• If you like whimsical looking photos then try decreasing the saturation to give you that ‘milky’ look (image on the right).

Editing photos in Lightroom

 

Highlights

What does the setting do? 

• The highlights setting will target parts of the photo which the light has already highlighted (including white objects).

Tips:

• If the picture from your camera is already over-exposed (i.e. the colours are so light that you can’t see the detail) then you will struggle to bring this back in Lightroom.

• Instead, take a slightly darker photo and use the highlights slider to lighten the highlighted/ white areas. In the left photo below you can see that increasing the highlights means some of the brickwork loses detail.

Editing photos in Lightroom

 

Shadows

What does the setting do? 

• The shadows setting will lighten/ darken parts of the photo that are already darkened by shadows (including blacks objects).

Tips:

• This is one of my favourite settings because it allows you to reduce shadows which automatically makes your photos look brighter and lighter.

• However be careful not to move the slider too far to the right when you have darker colours in the picture as this can cause you to lose some of your contrast (see the image on the right).

• In this picture below, I would adjust the exposure, shadows and whites and then intensify the black border of the frame by increasing the intensity of the Black setting.

Editing photos in Lightroom

 

Whites 

What does the setting do? 

• Think of the white setting like a tin of paint. It will just increase or decrease the intensity of whites in colours making them seem lighter or darker.

Tips:

• Again, this is also one of my most used settings. I usually lighten the shadows and then I will play with the white slider to lighten up the photos even more.

• Be careful because the white slider is more intense that the highlights slider and sometimes you can lose details in your picture. I usually play around the the white and highlight slider to see which will suit each image.

Editing photos in Lightroom

 

Blacks

What does the setting do?

• The opposite of whites! Blacks will darken or brighten the intensity of colours.

Tips:

• As mentioned above, if you lighten the shadows in your picture but need to bring back some of the intensity to the ‘black’ objects in your picture then move the Blacks slider to the right.

Editing photos in Lightroom

 

Sharpening & Noise Reduction

What does the setting do? 

• Sharpening brings out the detail in the photographs and noise reduction reduces the noise (or graininess) in the photos.

Tips:

• If you want to sharpen your photo this will increase the ‘noise’ of your photo and sometimes this can make it look grainy (see detail in the first image below). Balance this out by moving the noise reduction setting to the right which will soften the detail (see the detail in the second image below).

• If you want a real whimsical look then push the noise reduction further towards the right however just look to see the image doesn’t look ‘fake’ by pushing it too far (i.e. the second image).

Editing photos in Lightroom

Editing photos in Lightroom

• I usually move the sharpening slider far right and the noise reduction in the middle – this helps to bring out the detail and reduces the noise without losing the sharpness of the objects in the picture (see image below)

Editing photos in Lightroom

 

Colours

What does the setting do? 

• Sometimes after you have edited your photo, certain colours might be a bit too punchy or maybe they’ve been a bit washed out if you’ve lightened the image. Adjusting individual colours will help you to reduce or increase the saturation or luminance of particular colours in the photo.

Tips:

• The main colours in the photo below are red, purple, magenta, orange and green. You can see that changing the saturation and luminance can change the intensity of certain colours in your photos.

• Sometimes when your photos look a little too yellow, reduce the saturation of oranges & yellows to get whiter looking photos. Remember that people’s skin tone is usually some combination of yellow, orange and red and you don’t want to make them look anaemic (you can see that the orange really changes the colour of my hands below)!

Colours

 

And this is the final edit!

These are all my favourite adjustments that I would adjust before deciding whether I needed to change other settings:

• Slightly moved the temperature to reduce the yellows (slider to the left);

• Increased the exposure (slider to the right);

• Reduced the shadows (slider to the right);

• Increased the white (slider to the right);

• Sharpened the image amount (slider to the right);

• Increase the noise reduction luminance (slider to the right).

Of course these are just my favourite tips.  Once you’ve become familiar with the settings then you can play around with them to reflect your own style!

Editing photos in Lightroom

If you are also interested creating brighter photos at home then have a look at my DIY Lightbox for Brighter Photos tutorial  here!

In the meantime, good luck photo editing!

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  • Vanessa

    This is very helpful Jinny. Looooove your photos!!!! <3

    Best Vanessa /// http://www.cityfreudeblog.london

    • theurbanquarters

      I’m so glad it will help you out! Window light and white cardboard are lifesavers!