Don’t get stuck using the same tools you’re comfortable with, use these 5 Lightroom tricks to really get the most out of your photo edits
We’ve all been there. You get back from a great shoot, take your SD card out of the camera, put it in your computer, import all of those juicy new RAW files into Lightroom and immediately start your editing routine in exactly the same way you always do. It’s normal, you stick with what you know and with what’s worked for you in the past. As the famous saying goes, “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”, which is true but sometimes it’s good to step outside of your comfort zone. Here’s 5 Lightroom tricks to help you shake that routine up a little.
These tricks are specific to Lightroom and good for more advanced photographers who already know the basics of photo editing. But feel free to follow along no matter what level you’re at, it’s always good to see how other people do things.
1) Adjusting temperature with Split Toning
Instead of using the temperature slider to add some warmth to an image, trying doing it with the Split Toning tool instead.
Using the Split Toning tool is a great way of controlling the overall feel of an edit as it allows you to add different colours and saturation in either the highlights or the shadows. If used correctly, the level of control this Lightroom trick gives you can yield amazing results.
In Lightroom, scroll down to the Split Toning tool (between the HSL and Detail panels) and open the colour palette for the highlights. Next choose a nice warm orange (if in doubt, lighter shades are better than darker ones) somewhere between the reds and yellows like in the photo below.
Next set the level of saturation you want. You’ll have to play around with it until you find something you like but I recommend not going too crazy with it here, subtlety is the key.
For the picture I’m about to show you I set the saturation to 14 which is just enough to give the photo some warmth but still look natural.
2) Setting whites and blacks quickly and easily
In the ‘Basic’ panel you have a slider labelled ‘Whites’ and one labelled ‘Blacks’.
Setting the white and black points doesn’t have to be a game of guess work. If you want to be able to easily see when the blacks start to bleed through, or when the whites become blown out, all you have to do is hold down the ‘option’ key on a Mac (or the ‘ALT’ key on a Windows PC) and adjust the slider.
If you’re adjusting the Whites the screen will turn all black and only the blown out whites will be visible. Use the slider until the whites just start becoming blown out and then bring them back down just enough so the screen is all black again. That way you’ll get a perfect white point like in the video below.
The same goes for the blacks, but when you hold down the option or ALT key the screen will turn white and only the blacks that are too dark will be shown.
BONUS TIP: Another way to set the black and white points even quicker is to hold down the ‘shift’ key and double click on the actual words ‘black’ or ‘white’. Lightroom will automatically adjust the slider to the point just before they start becoming blown out.
3) Creating a fake sun-flare
Not everyone will like what I’m about to show you next, which is fine, photography is all about personal taste. But if used subtly and in a way that works with existing light, an artificial sun-flare can enhance images by emphasising shadows and natural light.
The only difference between the two photos below is that in one I have added an artificial sun-fare in the top right corner.
The key thing to remember with this Lightroom trick is to use it WITH the natural light. So place it where the sun would be coming from naturally. If I had put it in the top left corner it would look strange when the light is clearly coming from the top right.
As with all post processing, subtlety is key.
To create the sun-flare all you have to do is select the Radial Filter tool and use the settings below.
You might have to slightly adjust for each photo but the above settings will work most of the time. Make sure the color is a light yellow/orange shade, the Feather is set to 100 and Invert Mask is checked, the rest can be changed a little if necessary. But like I said, start with these settings as they will work most of the time.
Once you’ve set up your radial tool with these settings you can save them as a preset for next time, like you can see I have done.
A quick side note about presets
I’ve actually just given you a preset for free from our All-in-1 Professional Lightroom Bundle which comes with 35 develop presets, 10 brushes, 5 graduated filters, 5 radial filters (one of which you’ve just got for free) and 9 export settings. Presets are great for giving you a base edit to work from, speeding up the editing process, and showing you different ways of editing within Lightroom to help advance your skills.
Our All-in-1 Professional Lightroom Bundle also comes with 4 info guides explaining exactly what each preset does, which kinds of photos they work best on, and how you can get the most out of each. We’ve even put together an easy installation guide so you can get to work as soon as you’ve downloaded them.
Once you have the right radial filter settings to make an artificial sun-flare, you need to make a large circle (much bigger than you think you’ll need) and place about 90% of it outside the image so that only part of the soft edge is visible in the corner.
4) A Lightroom trick to keep everything neat and tidy: Solo Mode
This one is a simple one but if you’re anything like me and you like things to be nicely organised and looking tidy, then you should try it out if you aren’t already.
Instead of having all of the panels in the develop module open at once and scrolling though them until you find what you’re looking for, right-click on one of them and select ‘Solo Mode’. This way every time you expand a panel, the others will automatically collapse.
5) The Fader
Let’s get back on the topic of presets for a minute for this last Lightroom trick.
Often when you’re using your own presets, or ones you’ve downloaded, the effect they have on images can be a little too strong. It’s impossible to make one preset that will instantly work perfectly on every photo, so it’s completely normal to want to reduce the effect a little sometimes.
Lightroom doesn’t have a way pre-built into it to reduce all develop settings equally at the same time. You need to download a third-party plugin to do that. Luckily there is a great one available for free from the guys over at Capture Monkey.
Once you’ve downloaded the plugin follow these steps to install it:
- Unzip the ZIP file you just downloaded
- In Lightroom click ‘File’, and then ‘Plug-in Manager’
- Then click the ‘Add’ button near the bottom of the dialog box
- Navigate to the file you unzipped in the first step
- Open it and highlight the ‘TheFader.lrplugin’ file, then click ‘Add Plugin’
- Quit Lightroom and restart it, that will complete the installation of The Fader
Now that The Fader is installed all you have to do is find an image you want to apply a preset to, click the ‘File’ tab, expand the ‘Plug-in Extras’ option and select ‘The Fader’.
You’ll get a small box that pops up where you can choose the preset you want to apply and an opacity slider to control the strength of the preset. Once you’re happy you can click ‘OK’ and make any additional tweaks you may feel are necessary to individual develop settings.
So there you have it! 5 awesome Lightroom tricks that hopefully you didn’t already know about
I hope you’ve learnt something new, and that you’ve been inspired to change up your editing workflow a little. All it takes is using one of these Lightroom tricks to give your edits a totally different feel.
If you have learned something new, or have anything to add, then let me know down in the comments below.
Until next time!