8 Simple Lightroom Tips to Improve Your Photos

Lightroom is a great tool but it’s not the most intuitive program around. Our photo editors use lightroom daily and get a lot of questions about Lightroom. It makes some pretty big changes to your photos by default, especially if you choose “auto” adjustments. Often we find that Lightroom is not improving but actually ruining our images.

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That’s why we’ve put together a list of simple Lightroom tips to improve your photos. Here we go:

Lightroom Presets

A Lightroom preset is a file that tells Lightroom what operations to carry out on your image. Lightroom comes with some excellent presets that you can install, or other people have created their own presets and make them available for free or for purchase.

Correct the White Balance

As Lightroom is non-destructive, you can edit the white balance of your photos and Lightroom will remember it. So, if you’re photographing a waterfall and find that the water looks green or blue, Lightroom allows you to correct this easily by choosing the White Balance Tool from Lightroom’s Tool Bar (as below).

Hover the mouse over an area that should be white and Lightroom will display a slider.  You can then adjust this until Lightroom displays ‘RGB’, which means Lightroom has correctly identified what it should be displaying and your white balance is corrected automatically!

Straighten and Crop

Lightroom is able to auto-straighten and crop your images. Select the Crop Tool from Lightroom’s Tool Bar, click and hold in Lightrooms View Area (as below), then drag Lightroom will move all four corners of your image so that it fits within Lightrooms View Frame.  Release when Lightroom displays a yellow line with a double arrow. Lightroom will then straighten your image and crop it for you, saving you all the effort!

Lightroom’s Straightening Tool Lightroom also has a tool that allows you to auto-straighten your photo by clicking on Lightroom’s View Area (as above).  This is very useful when photographing non-horizontal buildings, cars etc as Lightroom will straighten it for you by dragging Lightroom’s cursor in Lightrooms View Area.

Adjust the Highlights and Shadows

To Lightroom, Highlights and Shadows are two completely different things.  Lightroom displays both as Lightroom has found that a lot of people don’t understand what Lightroom’s Clarity is trying to do.

Whilst Lightrooms Clarity slider can be useful when attempting to correct Highlight Brackets (which Lightroom will also display for you), it has other uses. Lightrooms Clarity slider is used to increase the contrast in Lightroom’s ‘Shadows’ and Lightrooms Recovery tool controls Lightroom’s highlights.

If Lightroom displays an area of your image that appears to be white (when you look at the histogram) then adjusting Lightroom’s Recovery will help bring out detail in Lightroom’s Shadows and vice versa.

Add a Vignette to the Photo in Lightroom

To add a vignette to Lightroom, select the Graduated Filter Tool from Lightrooms Tool Bar and Lightroom will display a rectangle (as below). You can then drag Lightroom’s cursor over Lightroom’s View Area to create your vignette.  As you do this Lightroom will display ‘marching ants’, which means that Lightroom is ready for you to drag Lightroom’s cursor.

You can then drag Lightroom’s cursor down Lightrooms View Area and Lightroom will display a circle that represents where Lightroom’s vignette will be added (as below). Lightroom also allows you to change the colour of your vignette if you desire. Lightroom will display Lightrooms Tool Bar (as below).  At the top of Lightroom’s Tool Bar you will see Lightroom’s Clarity, Lightroom’s Vibrance and Lightroom’s Saturation.

Mark Favourites or Reject Photos Using Lightroom

If you can’t decide whether Lightroom is keeping your images or not, Lightroom allows you to mark your photos as favourites or reject them. Lightrooms Tool Bar will display Lightroom’s Tool Bar (as below).  Hover Lightroom’s mouse over Lightroom’s Trash and Lightroom will display a cross.  Click Lightrooms Cross to flag Lightroom’s image as Rejected, then click Lightrooms Heart if you want Lightroom to flag Lightroom’s image as a Favourite.

To view Lightrooms rejected images, click Lightrooms Tool Bar and Lightroom will display Lightroom’s Library Grid (as below).  Click Filtered where it says ‘No’ and Lightroom will display all of your discarded photos.

Dodge and Burn

To dodge and burn in Lightroom you need to select Lightrooms Tool Bar (as below).  Then Lightroom will display Lightrooms Brush Tool, Lightrooms Graduated Filter (for dodging), Lightroom’s Radial Filter and Lightrooms Adjustment Brush.

To dodge, hold your mouse over Lightroom’s image where you want to burn and click Lightroom’s brush cursor to apply Lightroom’s Lightroom’s Lightroom’s Graduated Filter.  To burn, hold your mouse over Lightrooms image where you want to dodge Lightroom’s brush cursor and Lightroom will display Lightrooms Brush Tool (as below).

Remove Unwanted Items from Your Image

When downloading your images to Lightroom, it’s best to review them on a big screen at 100% magnification. This will help you identify any dust particles that may end up in your photos and allow you to fix them before printing the image.

Select the Spot Removal tool (keyboard shortcut is Q) in your Lightroom software then click on the blemishes. Lightroom automatically removes it by using a clone stamp. You can adjust the source area (where it is cloning from) by moving the circle that appears.


So there you have it my top 8 lightroom tips. Lightroom is a powerful tool for editing your images, and these Lightroom tips will help you get the most out of Lightroom so that you can get back to shooting as quickly as possible!

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