Modifying Journey Pictures with Lightroom


This submit was written in partnership with Adobe and Adobe Photoshop Lightroom.

A few weeks in the past, I joined the Adobe group and a handful of different photographers within the Caribbean to expertise and doc the US Virgin Islands. It was a beautiful expertise, and I’m grateful that the Adobe group selected the USVI for this journey. The Virgin Islands are beautiful, with attractive nature and vibrant tradition. The hurricanes final 12 months devastated a lot of the realm, and plenty of are nonetheless rebuilding. It was a privilege to go to and to see the resiliency and power of the folks right here first-hand.

For this weblog submit, I needed to have a look at the components of my workflow and the ways in which I edit in Lightroom which might be fairly constant throughout pictures. Under one can find my primary workflow and enhancing ideas, damaged down in easy phrases, utilizing my pictures from this journey for example my factors.

I’ve been to the Virgin Islands earlier than–– I went to Saint Thomas on a couple of household holidays rising up. However I had by no means visited any of the islands with a purposeful curiosity in tradition and the outside. Having the chance to go to with a lens on these items was one thing I needed to benefit from.

Lightroom is my most-used utility for photograph enhancing, and I used it to course of all of my pictures from this journey. I get loads of questions on how I edit, and I need to begin this off by saying that there’s typically not a “proper” technique to create. I understand how intimidating the technical facet of images (or any craft) can really feel. I’ve solely been utilizing Lightroom for a couple of years myself, however the extra I take advantage of it, the extra comfy I get with it, and the extra assured I really feel utilizing it.

There are two variations of Lightroom at the moment out there–– Lightroom CC and Lightroom Traditional CC. I largely use Lightroom Traditional CC, which is the desktop-only product beforehand referred to as Lightroom. Lightroom CC, alternatively, is a cloud-based software program that works throughout desktop, cellular and net. I take advantage of Lightroom CC for cellular (out there for obtain as an app) on my iPhone X to edit images on the go if I don’t have entry to my desktop, or if I merely need to do a fast cellular edit.

To begin, here’s what my Develop module in Lightroom Traditional CC appears to be like like after I edited the function photograph on this submit:

The Develop module is the place I spend most of my time in Lightroom. You possibly can see what a few of my edits have been on the precise. Earlier than I soar into enhancing ideas, let’s discuss group. It helps if you happen to open up Lightroom so you possibly can comply with alongside all through the submit.


I shoot in RAW on a Sony a7Riii. RAW is a file format that means that you can seize the utmost quantity of information from the sensor so you’ve got extra to work with in Lightroom. I import my images from my reminiscence playing cards by choosing “Copy” Lightroom’s Import dialog, designating my exterior laborious drive because the import location. I’ll then manually copy a backup to a second laborious drive. I carry two exterior HDD’s once I journey (I favor these), and again up my photograph/video from my playing cards every day. I make certain to have at the least two copies of the RAW information always. Inside my laborious drives, I arrange my pictures by date, after which by location or journey.

As soon as images are imported to my Library, I’ll undergo and decide my favourite pictures by flagging them with “p” (you should use “u” to take away a flag), or marking them with stars through the use of numbers 0-5. As soon as I’ve completed that, I’ll return to the Library and think about solely the Flagged pictures through the use of the Library Filter.

That is what my Library appears to be like like once I choose solely the flagged pictures. Most of those picture have been edited.


I’ll decide the picture I need to edit and double-click it to go into the Develop module, the place I spend most of my time in Lightroom.


The very first thing I do is normally hit “r” to crop, or click on the sq. grid icon straight under the histogram. You possibly can rotate the picture utilizing your cursor, or click on the Straighten Device (appears to be like like ruler subsequent to the place it says “Angle”) to attract a horizon line and ensure your picture is precisely straight. If I’m cropping for Instagram, I crop 1×1 (sq.) or 4×5 (vertical).

I’m cropping this photograph for Instagram, although I’ll most likely additionally save a model at its preliminary ratio.


Profile correction is used to right distortion and vignetting, particular to the lens used. To make use of it, scroll down till you see the Lens Corrections panel on the precise, examine “Allow Profile Corrections”, and choose your digital camera and lens from the dropdown.


The histogram is discovered within the upper-right nook of your Develop module. It’s a software that acts as a second pair of eyes–– the histogram is a graphical illustration of the tones in your pictures. By studying the histogram, you possibly can see what’s going on with the blacks, whites, shadows and highlights of your picture with out you having to even have a look at the photograph. That is helpful as a result of typically we will’t belief our eyes to inform us precisely when the highlights are blown out, or when the shadows are too darkish.

Right here’s a picture from Sapphire Bay with the corresponding histogram.

Darkish tones are on the left facet of the graph, whereas mild tones are on the precise. A “completely uncovered” picture could have an ideal bell curve that simply barely touches the left and proper facet. That being stated, not all pictures will look good simply because the histogram signifies that they’re “completely uncovered”… typically you need to purposefully underneath or over-expose a picture. There isn’t a such factor as a “good” or “dangerous” histogram. It’s merely a software so that you can use whenever you make your inventive selections.

In keeping with the histogram above, you possibly can see that this picture is usually made up of midtones, as a result of you possibly can see loads of motion in the midst of the graph. By hitting “j”, you possibly can see if any areas are “clipping” which suggests both your lights are TOO mild, or in case your darks are TOO darkish. You can too see if clipping is happening if a part of the histogram is touching the precise or left facet. Within the histogram above, you possibly can see that no clipping is happening, however that the histogram is simply barely touching the left and proper sides.

I need to word that I allow the histogram ranging from once I’m capturing. On a Sony digital camera, that is one in all your show choices. Excluding images which might be meant to be very darkish or very vibrant, I take note of the histogram when I’m capturing to attempt to heart the midtones in my body.


Lightroom provides you two sliders for adjusting White Steadiness: Temperature and Tint. The Temperature slider makes your picture hotter or cooler, whereas the Tint slider balances out the magenta and inexperienced in your picture.

I take advantage of the white stability selector (appears to be like like a temperature dropper) to pick out essentially the most impartial (i.e., gray) a part of my picture. Generally our eyes deceive us and inform us that an space is impartial, when it actually has coloration in it. You possibly can inform if an space is de facto impartial if the R (purple), G (inexperienced) and B (blue) values are related. As soon as you choose a goal impartial, Lightroom will regulate the picture accordingly based mostly on the gray you chose. I discover the white stability selector to be a simple technique to get a superb base for additional changes.

Take a look at the RGB values right here. They get fairly near equal, so that is very near impartial.


White stability is subjective. Generally I modify it actually dramatically on function, and different instances I need to get as near true colours as potential.

If manually adjusting the tones feels overwhelming or too sophisticated, I might advocate simply hitting the Auto button in your Fundamental panel to see what Adobe thinks your picture’s tones ought to seem like. Then you possibly can work from there.

One other method you possibly can regulate your tones is through the use of the tone curve. The tone curve: what the heck is it and why do you have to care? The tone curve is a software that represents all of the tones in your picture. The shadows, midtones, and highlights are alongside the underside axis. Transferring any level alongside the curve up or down will make it brighter or darker, respectively. For instance, to create distinction, create an S curve, which darkens the shadows and lifts the brights. Once more, use “j” to examine that you just’re not overdoing it.

Right here’s the earlier than and after of a picture the place I adjusted the Tone Curve. You possibly can see that I introduced up the shadows a bit to create a slight fade, then elevated the distinction by flattening the darks and growing the lights.

Whether or not or not you employ the Tone Curve is as much as you. Do you want to make use of it? No. Personally, I discover that I largely use the Fundamental panel, after which tremendous tune utilizing the Tone Curve.


The HSL Panel (Hue, Saturation & Luminance) is a enjoyable place to be in Lightroom. By adjusting the tones in your picture, you might be additionally affecting the looks of the colours. The HSL panel is the place the place you possibly can exactly manipulate and regulate all the colours in your picture.

You possibly can select which colours to regulate by particular hue, or use the focused adjustment software for extra precision. This software is one thing I take advantage of on virtually each photograph! To make use of it, click on on the circle within the higher left-hand nook of the HSL menu. Then discover the colour you need to regulate in your picture, click on and drag your cursor whereas holding down. It is a nice technique to regulate particular colours with out having to guess how a lot of every hue is within the choice.

The focused adjustment software is that circle icon with the 2 arrows.


A few of my pictures are extra altered than others with regard to particular colours. Right here’s the earlier than & after of a picture the place I adjusted virtually each single slider. Hopefully you possibly can see why I selected to edit this one so closely!


Right here is the ultimate picture subsequent to the HSL panel so you possibly can see the changes I made:


How a lot or how little you employ the HSL panel is as much as you. I discover it to be extraordinarily useful, and that is most likely the place I spend most of my time.


I sometimes do some selective changes on each picture–– by that I imply spot removing, or including a gradient or radial filter, or making use of changes to a selected space with a brush. Spot removing is nice for any minor imperfections, or if I need to clear up an space of the picture a bit. For those who aren’t certain what every of the instruments does, hover over it for a second till the title of the software pops up.

I take advantage of typically gradient and radial filters to regulate for any over or underneath uncovered areas. I additionally use a radial filter on wildlife images, particularly on eyes and faces, to convey out the element. The comb software is nice if in case you have an space that isn’t a uniform form, with the intention to be extra particular with the realm you’d like to regulate. There’s a level at which I’ll convey a picture into Photoshop for extra precision with all these changes.

Right here’s an instance of utilizing a Radial Filter to convey up the publicity in a selected space:

As you possibly can see from the Masks panel on the precise, I introduced up the Publicity and the Whites, and introduced the Blacks barely all the way down to create some distinction. Take a look at the ultimate consequence within the picture gallery on the backside of this submit.


If I’m enhancing images from a set, I copy/paste the edit from the primary picture to the remainder of the set. You possibly can see the “Copy…” choice in your Develop Module on the decrease left, simply above the movie strip that runs alongside the underside of your display screen. Here’s what I normally copy from an edit I like:

After copying these settings, go to the picture you want to edit and click on “Paste…”. Voila!

I nonetheless undergo every picture individually to regulate publicity and different minor issues, however copy/pasting an edit you want onto a picture is method simpler and quicker than ranging from scratch. I typically will save these edits as a preset so I can use it sooner or later for different pictures. To create a customized preset, when you end enhancing a picture, go into your Preset tab on the left and hit the “+” signal.

Do I take advantage of presets? Generally! I are inclined to experiment with presets if I really feel caught on a picture and need to see if I can do one thing totally different. I’ll by no means simply slap a preset on a picture and name it a day, however typically I take advantage of them as a software for experimentation or studying one thing. I’ve a few VSCO preset packs that I prefer to play with.

Right here’s one in all my pictures with a VSCO preset on it. I discover it a little bit excessive for me, however I might think about using this as a base and dealing from there. I additionally prefer to ask myself what precisely I like in regards to the preset. On this picture, I like what is occurring with the greens within the entrance, so I’d reset the whole lot and attempt to emulate that. For me, presets are a enjoyable software for studying.

When you’re at a superb place together with your picture, you possibly can hit “l” twice to see it uninterrupted with a plain background. Hit “l” once more to exit.


My three most-used export settings are:

  1. For net (weblog/Fb). Width of the picture at 2048px; decision at 72 pixels per inch.
  2. For Instagram/Instagram tales. Brief edge at 2048px; decision at 72 pixels per inch.
  3. For print. Don’t resize; decision at 300 pixels per inch.

The primary variations between these are dimension and determination. Here’s what it appears to be like like once I export one thing for net:

In case you have file dimension limitations, you possibly can examine the field that claims “Restrict File Dimension To:”, however this may occasionally scale back high quality. For print, I modify the decision to 300 pixels per inch, and uncheck Resize. Information exported for print will clearly be a a lot bigger dimension than these exported for net.

Generally, the go-to decision settings for net and print are 72 ppi & 300 ppi, respectively. Something under 72 will seem pixelated for net, and something above it may be overkill (although some screens can show extra ppi).

It can save you your export settings as a preset by clicking “Add” underneath the preset panel on the left.

Lightroom is a strong program and on no account did I cowl it comprehensively right here–– however I needed to provide you an concept of the steps I take from import to export. I hope that taking you thru this course of has helped your understanding of Lightroom, and given you some extra confidence to strive new issues by yourself pictures.

I hope you enable your self the liberty to experiment. Generally I spend hours on one picture and really feel like I simply can’t get it proper. Different instances, I really like the top consequence after only a few easy tweaks. Determining what you want takes time, and a private type can solely come from hours of follow. Give your self sufficient grace to strive, day after day. Lightroom is a software that helps you do this.

Lastly, listed here are my favourite edits/pictures from our journey to the Virgin Islands.  Thanks for studying!


To offer you an summary of the journey, we based mostly ourselves on Saint Thomas, the place we explored the town of Charlotte Amalie and photographed dawn and sundown on a number of of the island’s seashores. From there we spent a day on Saint John, stopping at a couple of spectacular viewpoints and beautiful seashores. Our final day of exploring took us to the BVI for fast stops on Virgin Gorda and Jost Van Dyke, giving us a broader view of the realm as our boat cruised between islands. Click on on any picture to learn extra.


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