BTS: HOW I EDIT PHOTOS IN LIGHTROOM

If you're pretty new to the world of "professional" editing, I'll be the first to tell you it's not as scary as it may look to some. For me, the process of editing raw images is therapeutic actually. 

There are plenty of free software and platforms that allow you to create some pretty cool photos - great for practice or if you're just a hobbyist. However, I'm a faithful Adobe Lightroom user. 

When editing, I treat it like a meditation. I'm all set with a SD card or external drive full of images to love on, a pair or earphones playing my favorite work vibes playlist, and if the kids are asleep, I'm drinking wine - ok!  Now when I first got into the editing game, I used Photoshop - PHOTOSHOP, friends! The app used for more major photo editing and manipulation. You can imagine it would take me forever to finish anything there.

Now, Lightroom is where the magic happens and it's specifically designed for image editing at the scale I use it for. Keep in mind that this post is about "how I edit" and not a "how to edit" in Lightroom. There is no one right way to do anything so I encourage you to play around with the tools available in Lightroom to discover the look and image styles that fit your creative eye. 


First things first, in order to create a phenomenal photo, I always try to make sure my camera does most of the work. ALWAYS shoot in RAW format instead of JPEG - this is because the raw files saves information of the image that the JPEG just doesn't. Although RAW images are much larger, after editing, you can easily convert the final image back to JPEG. My go-to is the Canon 60D and I'm almost always using a nifty-fifty (50mm lense). My camera settings are always in manual mode, ISO never over 300 but 100 is the default, and the lowest f-stop possible most of the time (I love a blurry background)!

Now the image you see above is from a case study I'll be sharing soon but I want to show you a little of how I edited this photo. The image was taken outside on my covered balcony. Stats: ISO 100, 24mm lens, f-stop of 2.8. Luckily, Lightroom shows the history of images so I'm able to show exactly what was done. 

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Using the tools on the right, I began with using the adjustment brush, which basically allowed me to make multiple edits at once and apply to the image using a brush. I only increased exposure, played with highlights and shadows, increased sharpness and clarity, and applied. 

I also used the white balance selector to adjust the overall color of the image. If you notice in the raw image, it looks a bit pink/bluish. The white balance tool essentially neutralizes color in overall the photo. 

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Now, if I ever want to apply those same adjustments to multiple photos with similar lighting situation in raw format, I simply hit the "previous" button found under the adjustment panels.Makes editing a breeze. 

If I'm not using the adjustment brush, I default to using the basic tools in the adjustment panels. For the image you see below, I increased the removal of darkness and played around with light using the tone curve adjustment panel. See the difference?

Of course, I love a well lit image most times so the final photo will be lovely, That's basically my process. I don't like taking forever (unless they are images with faces - which is a whole 'nother post) - but I like to keep it simple. A few things I like to keep in mind when taking a photo with post-processing in mind:

  • Shoot in RAW

  • Use the lowest ISO possible.

  • Shoot images as slightly underexposed. (why? - they retain more detail whereas an overexposed photo loses detail)

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When I'm exporting my images, I send them straight to my external drive. If I want to do any sort of manipulation before then, I have them open back in Photoshop. I have a habit of setting my image resolution at 240 pixels but if I plan to print or my client does, then 300 is the default at it's highest quality, 

That's it - lol. What's your favorite image editing program to use? Are you a fan of Adobe Lightroom?

Neosha Gardner