Lightroom interface explained
GENIUS Double-click the slider names in the panels of the Develop module to quickly reset them to their default values
The Lightroom workflow operates in an entirely different way to Photoshop so can seem daunting to get to grips with. But you’ll soon familiarise yourself with the layout when you’ve made a couple of RAW conversions. Here’s what you need to know about the Develop tab, which is where you make your edits...
1 Correct your exposure with the Basic panel
Open Lightroom and go to the Library module. Click the Import button, then use the Source panel to find the image you want to work on. Make sure it has a tick next to it and hit the Import button to bring it into the Lightroom interface. Now go to the Develop module, click on the Basic panel and drag the Exposure slider until the brightness of the picture looks right. Then pull the Highlights and Blacks sliders to the left a little and push the Shadows and Whites sliders to the right, to expand the dynamic range of your shot. Set the Contrast and Clarity sliders to +10 to make details a bit more punchy, then move the Vibrance slider to +30 and Saturation slider to +5 to enhance the colours.
2 Pay attention to the details
Go down to the Lens Corrections panel and tick Enable Profile Corrections. Lightroom will detect the lens used and remove common lens distortions, such as vignettes. Now go to the Detail panel and set the Sharpening Amount to 50. As you’re doing this, hold the Alt key down and tweak the Masking slider until only the details you want to sharpen are shown in white. For images taken with a low ISO value of 100-400, set the Noise Reduction Luminance slider between 10 and 20. This slider will need pushing further for images taken with higher ISO values to reduce the digital noise.
3 Boost contrast with Tone Curves
To further fine-tune the lightest and darkest parts of your shot go to the Tone Curve panel. The Highlights slider controls the lightest parts of your shot and the Shadows slider controls the darkest areas, while the Lights and Darks sliders adjust the midtones. If you’ve got a highlight or shadow that is clipping, try tweaking Highlights or Shadows until the shot looks right. To increase contrast, you can apply a slight S-shaped curve, by setting Highlights to +5, Lights to +20, Darks to -25 and Shadows to -10. To increase the contrast further, you can change the Point Curve from Linear to Medium Contrast or Strong Contrast.
4 Refine the shadows & highlights
If you have a part of your shot that is still too bright or dark, go to the Toolbar and grab the Adjustment Brush Tool. Set the Feather and Flow to 100 and change the Size with the [ and ] keys, until appropriately sized for the area you want to tweak. To lighten deep shadows, set Exposure to +0.25 and Shadows to +30, then paint over the area to lift it. Painting onto the image will create an Adjustment Brush Pin. Hover your cursor over the pin to see the area you’ve selected. To add to other areas, click the New button, paint over the next area you want to adjust, and then change the sliders until it looks good. Click on the pins to work on different areas around your shot. You can also remove things from your selection by clicking Erase and painting over the offending area. Finally, you can right-click on the pin to Duplicate, Delete or Reset Brushing.
5 Export your edited image
When you’ve got your shot looking how you want it, go to File>Export. Now choose where you want to save the shot under Export Location, and under File Settings set Image Format to JPEG and Quality to 100. Then hit Export to save your shot.
Above Import your RAW file into Lightroom, then use the sliders found in the Basic panel to expand the dynamic range of your picture.