For Photographers | Lightroom Tutorial

Advanced Lightroom Tutorial

I'm not going to lie. Showing this image straight out out of my camera for the whole world to see feels a bit like dancing around naked. (Well, maybe not THAT bad. Maybe more like dancing around in my bathing suit. In WalMart. Or at a community theatre.)

But. I think this is important. I think it's important to understand that a competent photographer doesn't only know how to get a good exposure, but also knows how to make that good exposure look fantastic. And I want to help you come to the place where you're confident not only in the images that you shoot, but in your ability to process them. So. Real talk.

Last week, I talked about the basic things I do in Lightroom to ensure that my images look their best. The image that I used needed very little adjustments, so this week I wanted do a Lightroom tutorial that explains editing an image that needs a bit more work. Above, the image on the left is straight out of my camera. Honestly, it's not a bad exposure. Nothing was overexposed (which is tricky with white dresses!), the white balance was pretty close, their expressions were adorable, and the image was sharp. Win. However, it did need some help to transform it into an image I would be happy sharing with my clients. And although the difference between the two images looks dramatic... the process that I took to get there was really quite straightforward.

Advanced Lightroom Tutorial

First, I scrolled down and checked "enable profile corrections". Lightroom has profiles for TONS of lenses and automatically corrects that specific lens's problems-- things like distortion and vignetting. It's also  super smart, and in most cases, will detect the lens your using, auto-fill the information, and make the necessary adjustments. Pretty cool.

Advanced Lightroom Tutorial

After I've fixed my lens distortion, I cropped the image the way I wanted, then went ahead and fixed the white balance, exposure, tone curve, and upped the luminance on the red and yellow channels to make their skin tones pop a bit. After these basic adjustments, things are looking pretty good... but my poor camera was confused and just didn't render the color of the house correctly. In real life, it was a turquoise-y aqua-y color. Here is looks almost green.

how to turn a mediocre image into a great one
how to turn a mediocre image into a great one

To fix this, I simply clicked on the adjustment brush, pained on the siding, and changed the white balance temperature and upped the saturation. That's it! I also created a separate brush and decreased the clarity on only their faces. This just increases the brightness a bit and smooths out the sharpening I had previously applied, making their skin look as fantastic as it did in real life!

Advanced Lightroom Tutorial

When I shot film, capturing the exposure was only 50% of the work. The other 50% was what I did with the film after-- how I processed it and what I did with it in the darkroom. I suppose my experience with film makes me look at digital images in the same way... 50% of my competency as a photographer is what I do with my images after I press the shutter.

If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below and I'll get back with you as soon as I can!