5 Tools You Might Not Be Using in Lightroom

I am a professional wedding photographer and I end up editing thousands of images for my clients. While there are lots of wedding photographers who outsource their post-processing to free up their time, I am a believer in editing my own photos. In order to make my job easier, I tend to look for shortcuts and tools in Lightroom itself, which I use extensively. I’d rather do everything in one program than switch back and forth between Lightroom and Photoshop. You do not have to be a wedding photographer in order to take advantage of these tools in Lightroom. You can use these techniques wherever they are applicable. Below are some of the tools you may not be using to edit your photos.

1) Straightening Tool – Perspective Correction

There will be times when you come back with photos that have a tilted horizon, making the composition look awkward. Perhaps you held the camera wrong or simply did not pay attention to framing at the time of taking the picture. Either way, you can fix this issue in Lightroom by using the straightening tool, which is located under the Histogram and looks like a perforated rectangle. Or you can simply press the “R” button on your keyboard to activate the Crop Overlay Menu in the Develop Mode. When you activate the Crop Overlay, the image you are working on will be framed with a cropped edge. While you can hold the corners of the photo and twist and turn it as much as you want, fixing the horizon can be much more calculated and easier than that.

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Library Module Overview: Image Review and Toolbar

With Library Module holding such a large collection of tools, tabs and panels, there is no other way to write a proper, thorough overview article but to split it into several parts. In the first article, I did my best to talk about the left-side panel (or the Navigation Panel, if you like) and all its capabilities in detail. In this article, we will focus on the center section of the Library Module – mainly the Image Grid/Loupe View, and the Toolbar.

Library Module Overview Image Review and Toolbar

The center section of the Library Module shows the images that you’ve navigated to using the left-side panel, and provides the main way to review image files. There are a lot of things you can do using just this one section, so please bear with me while I try to explain it all. We start with the Image Grid, which basically dominates the center section of the Library Module.

1) Image Grid/Loupe View

This part of the Library Module is used to review the images, but its capabilities extend far beyond simple image display. One of the better things about it is the choice of Grid View and Loupe View modes. Loupe View is also present in Develop Module and basically shows a large preview of a selected image, but the Grid mode allows you to see several images at once and you can change the size of thumbnails to fit more images for quicker browsing, or less images to see them better. We will get to that a bit later. What matters now is that it basically makes the Film Strip redundant in Library Module as the Grid View is so much more practical to use.
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Lightroom Loupe View Options

In the previous Mastering Lightroom series article, “Lightroom Grid View Options”, we learned how to set-up Cells in Grid View so that they display the information of your choice. Grid View options are only available in Library Module, but that is not the only view mode available in Lightroom. In this article for beginners we are going to learn how to set-up Loupe View, which is available in Library Module and is also the default and only view mode in Develop Module.

Lightroom Loupe View Options

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Lightroom Grid View Options

In Lightroom, image information, such as Metadata, can be overlaid on a photograph in some Modules. It helps you find out information you might need at a glance, such as aperture and shutter speed at which that particular photograph was taken. Such information can be overlaid in Grid and Loupe View modes in Library Module, and Loupe View mode in Develop Module. In this article, I will discuss the Grid View options, which are available in Library Module only. Loupe View mode, which is available in Library and Develop Modules, will be discussed in detail in a follow-up article.

Lightroom Grid View Options

Lightroom Grid View Information Overlay

In Grid View mode, the additional information display modes are called Grid Extras. The Grid Extras are further split into Cell Extras, as there are two types of Cells – Compact Cells and Expanded Cells. You can set different information for both types of Cells and toggle between them by hitting “J” key while in Grid View mode. Doing so will toggle between bare Cells that show no Grid Extras at all except for Color Label; Compact Cells that show Flags, Star Ratings, Quick Collection Markers, Thumbnail Badges that show whether that particular file was edited, and an additional piece of information of your choosing; and, finally, Expanded Cells that show more additional information that you can specify, such as file dimensions, date the photograph was taken on and so on.

A side note: a Cell is the area that surrounds and contains image thumbnail along with additional information in Grid View mode, but is not the thumbnail itself.

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Lightroom Interface Customization Tips

I remember describing Photoshop’s versatility and sophistication as both a strength and a weakness. On one hand, it is a very powerful piece of software with so many different and versatile tools, its capability is only limited by the user’s skill. On the other hand, such complexity can also be overwhelming and detract one’s attention, slow down simple tasks. This trait, to an extent, is also shared by Photoshop’s little sibling, photography-centered Lightroom. Although it is that much more specialized, there’s still a plethora of tools, panels and tabs which can, at times, make the post-processing experience somewhat… messy.

Lightroom Interface Customization Tips

Thankfully, it would seem the team of developers behind Adobe Photoshop Lightroom are trying to do their best to make Lightroom as simple and fast as possible. Thus a certain amount of customization is available. You won’t be able to completely redesign the software, but getting rid of some things you find unnecessary is very much possible. In this article, I will give you some tips on how to purify your workflow and hide some of the functionality that you might find yourself rarely using, so as to not get detracted from the things you use most.

A side note: read our “Lightroom Loupe View Options” and “Lightroom Grid View Options” articles to learn how to toggle and customize information overlays, which help you learn the most important information about a specific image at a glance.

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How to Email Photographs in Lightroom

As I’ve said time and time again, Lightroom is all about speed. And that’s the beauty of it. You can do so many things without actually needing to save the images as JPEG files on your computer, you hardly ever need to Export them at all. In this article, I will show you how to use Lightroom’s Email Photo function so that you can send any image in your Library by email without ever leaving Lightroom environment. It is quick, simple and very easy to set up, so if you’ve never used the feature but tend to send image files by email frequently, you should definitely try it out.

How to Email Photographs in Lightroom

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Lightroom Library Module Overview: the Navigation Panel

On our way to mastering Lightroom, we have already learned how to successfully Import images into your Catalog, work with Filename Template Editor and even understand how Lens Corrections work, among other things. Yet someone new to Lightroom will notice that we’ve missed several vital steps in our attempts to explain the software from start to finish, and so it is time to get back to those steps. In this article we will talk about one of the two most used Modules in Lightroom – Library. More specifically, we will overview the functionality of the left-side panel, the rest of the Module will be covered in two upcoming articles shortly afterwards.

Library Module Overview Left-Side Panel

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How to Fix Panorama Merging Errors

This is a follow-up article to the tutorial I published a few days ago on how to create a panorama image in Lightroom. In the article, I used a very simple and straightforward panorama image which could be merged without any errors virtually on first try. The image did not have a main object of interest and only a few points that needed critical precision during stitching process. I chose this image for the sake of convenience – I didn’t want it to cause any apparent problems while I tried to explain how to seamlessly include Photoshop or any other panorama merging software in your Lightroom workflow. However, we all understand that, more often than not and especially with Brenizer method panoramas that I love so much, the stitching process is far from being perfectly accurate every time. More complex panoramas require several tries before the stitching is done properly, or manual correction. But how do you manually correct a panorama that you are trying to merge through Lightroom? It is actually easier than you may think and is unlikely to upset your workflow in any way.

How to Fix Panorama Merging Errors

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How to Create a Panorama in Lightroom

A while ago, I wrote an article explaining how to use Lightroom with external editors. Since then, I’ve been asked specifically about merging panorama images. In this article, I will show you all the steps you need to take to successfully merge a panorama and have it back in your Library with minimal fuss. I will be using Lightroom 5.2 and Photoshop CS5, but the process is virtually identical with (reasonably) older versions of both software tools. This tutorial will focus on the process of stitching a panorama image while using Adobe Photoshop Lightroom as the heart of your post-processing and image management workflow.

How to Create a Panorama in Lightroom

If you are new to panorama photography, the best place to start is by reading our “Panoramic Photography Tutorial”. Manual panorama stitching technique will be discussed in a separate article.

1) There is a Catch

We start, unusually, with a problem. As a RAW file converter and photo manager, Lightroom has limited functionality when it comes to graphical editing. In fact, all its great flexibility is concentrated within the two mentioned main functions of the software. In many other respects, Lightroom is not the best choice. For example, I can edit 98% of my wedding photographs with Lightroom alone, no problem. However, the two remaining percent happen to be Brenizer method panoramas. This is where things, at first glance, get a bit more complicated. As I am sure a lot of you already know, you can’t stitch panorama images with Lightroom alone. If you didn’t yet know this and stumbled upon this article hoping to find a different answer, I am sorry to disappoint you. It lacks such functionality at its core. There is, of course, a workaround. What Lightroom can’t do on its own, it can do with the help of external editors and plug-ins. Panorama stitching happens to be one of those holes you can fill in quite easily if you own a Lightroom-compatible panorama stitching software which, in my case, is Photoshop. So, in order to create a panorama in Lightroom (sort of), you need to export those files to an external editor. Photoshop has a very powerful Photomerge tool for just such occasions, but the problem remains. You need to own another piece of software to perform such a task. I find that perplexing.

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Using Filename Template Editor in Lightroom

As any reader of our previous Mastering Lightroom series articles will know, one of the biggest strengths Adobe’s popular RAW converter has is presets and templates. With its emphasis on speed, Lightroom allows you to create a preset or template for more or less anything, from Metadata, to slideshows or book design. I have already talked about the super-useful Develop Presets. In this article, I will show you how to use Filename Template Editor so that you learn how to name your images as quickly and efficiently as possible.

How to Use Filename Template Editor in Lightroom

1) Why Should You Use the Filename Template Editor?

As with all other kinds of templates and presets you can find in Lightroom, filename templates are there for you to make managing and working with images easier. With the Filename Template Editor, you can create several naming templates and include as much or as little information as you want. What sort of information? Well, more or less everything from the metadata of that image – date, equipment, keywords etc. In addition to that, you can also include a custom text field.

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