10 Lightroom Tricks That Will Make Your Life Easier

When it comes to Lightroom, there is a lot to learn, and we tend to pay the most attention to the big things like understanding how to organize images and which sliders to use to improve our photos. But there are also lots of little Lightroom tricks that will improve your workflow and just make your life easier when it comes to working with your photos.

In this video, I’ll show you 10 of my favorite tricks that will make your life easier in Lightroom. There is also a summary of these items below the video for your reference. Enjoy!

1. Build Previews

Have you ever noticed that when you view images full size in the Library Module and you move from one to the next, sometimes Lightroom shows a message that says “Loading…” and it takes a minute for the photo to display properly? You can get around that by building previews before you start working on a group of images.

To do this, choose Library > Previews > Build Standard-Sized Previews.

I generally build standard-sized previews which are just big enough to fit in the Lightroom window. You can also build the 1:1 Previews which means you can view each image zoomed-in at 100% without having to wait, but that takes longer.

Building the previews first does take a bit of time, but you can do something else while Lightroom is busy with this task. Then when you are ready to work on your images, Lightroom will be really fast.

2. Auto Advance

When selecting your Picks or adding a star rating to images in the Library Module, you can have Lightroom automatically move to the next image, making it very quick to go through a selection of photos. To turn this setting on choose Photo > Auto Advance.

3. Solo Mode

In the Develop Module, there are a number of panels which, when expanded, can make it necessary to do a lot of scrolling to move between them. But with “solo mode”, only one panel can be opened at a time which means no more scrolling.

To turn this on, right-click to the left of one of the develop module panel titles (such as “basic”) and choose Solo Mode.

4. Quickly Reset a Slider

When you make a change to a slider in the Develop Module, and you simply want to reset it back to zero, you don’t have to actually move the slider back. Simply double-click on the name of the slider and it will reset.

5. Letter O Key

Did you know there are quite a few different crop overlays you can use to help you crop your photos just right? Click the crop tool in the Develop Module, and then try repeatedly pressing the letter O on your keyboard to rotate through the various crop overlays.

6. Letter F Key

When you think you are done and you want to view a larger size of your image to make sure everything is just right, press the letter F on your keyboard to view the image full screen. Press F again to go back.

7. Letter L Key

Another way to view your image without distractions is to use the L key on your keyboard. Press it once and all the sidebars and your desktop will turn grey. Press it again and everything goes black except your actual photos (this is called Lights Out). Press it a third time to return to normal.

8. Backslash Key

As a final check when you think you are done with your processing, press the backslash key on your keyboard to see the “before” version of your image before you made any changes in Lightroom. Press it again to see the “after” version.

9. Virtual Copies

If you want to make another version of an image without changing the original, you don’t have to actually make a copy of it on your hard drive. You can simply create a “virtual copy” and apply different settings to it. This virtual copy takes up no space on your hard drive and allows you to play with different looks.

10. Sync Settings

After you have finished processing one photo in a group, you can apply those exact settings to all the other photos in the group. This makes it very fast to process a whole group of images.

Go to the Library Module, select all the photos you want to apply the settings to, including the one you have processed, and click the “Sync Settings” button in the lower right corner of your screen. You can then choose whether to sync all or just some of the settings to the selected photos.


Lightroom can be overwhelming! If you want to learn the essentials of Lightroom so you can get started quickly and easily, check out my video course Launch Into Lightroom. In 22 short videos that total a little over 2 hours, you’ll be off and running.

The post 10 Lightroom Tricks That Will Make Your Life Easier appeared first on Digital Photography School.

How to Speed Up Your Photo Editing with the Right Lightroom Workflow

Processing photos is fun for me. But as much as I like doing it, I like being out in the field making new photos even more. That’s why I’ve developed a Lightroom workflow that helps me get the job done as quickly as possible.

Following these steps, you’ll learn how to make adjustments to a whole batch of images and then apply image specific adjustments to bring out the best in each frame.

Before you begin, choose a batch of photos taken at the same time under similar lighting conditions. I usually go through and pick my favorite photos from a shoot first, and then work on those.

How to Speed Up Your Photo Editing with the Right Lightroom Workflow

Step 1: Make Global Adjustments to the First Photo

In the Develop Module, pick the first photo in your batch and make the following adjustments to make it look its best.

Remember there are no rules with the sliders other than a little goes a long way. Just go with your gut. And if you’re not sure what a slider does, just take it to one extreme and then the other and you’ll be able to see exactly what is going to happen.

Camera Calibration

You’ll find this at the bottom of the develop module on the right-hand panel. I like to set this first because it makes such a dramatic difference to the color and contrast in an image. Simply go through the drop down box and pick the one that looks the best.

White Balance

Next go up to the top of the develop module and start working your way down. The first slider is white balance and there you can choose from the items in the drop down box. Again, simply choose the one that looks best.

Highlights and Shadows

Try darkening the highlights by moving the slider to the left and lightening the shadows by moving the slider to the right. You don’t want to go so far that you’ve removed all contrast from the scene, just enough that you have more detail in the highlight and shadow areas.

Clarity

The clarity slider will add contrast to the edges of things making them appear more crisp. Try nudging it a bit to the right. On the other hand, if you want your image to be softer and dreamier, you can move the clarity slider to the left.

Vibrance

The vibrance slider is more subtle than saturation since it adds color to the parts of your image that are already less saturated.

Sharpening

Most photos need a little sharpening. In the Detail Panel, try moving the sharpening slider a bit to the right.

Vignette

In the Effects Panel, add a slight post-crop vignette to draw the eye into the frame by dragging the slider slightly to the left.

How to Speed Up Your Photo Editing with the Right Lightroom Workflow

Before any adjustments in Lightroom.

How to Speed Up Your Photo Editing with the Right Lightroom Workflow

After the basic adjustments have been applied in Lightroom.

Step 2: Sync Settings

In the Develop Module, select all the photos in your batch (including the one you just edited) from the filmstrip at the bottom of the screen. Then click the Sync button at the bottom of the develop panel.

How to Speed Up Your Photo Editing with the Right Lightroom Workflow

Voila! All the adjustments you made to your first image have now been applied to the whole group.

Step 3: Make Final Adjustments to Single Photos

The following adjustments need to be made to each photo individually since they are rarely the same in a batch.

Crop and Straighten

If necessary, use the crop tool to adjust the crop. Maintain the aspect ratio of your image by holding down the shift key on your keyboard while you crop. You can also use the angle tool located inside the crop tool to make sure any horizon or shore lines are straight by drawing a line from one side to the other.

How to Speed Up Your Photo Editing with the Right Lightroom Workflow

Don’t Miss a Dust Spot

Using the spot removal tool, check the box next to “Visualize Spots” below the image to help you see the dust spots more easily.

How to Speed Up Your Photo Editing with the Right Lightroom Workflow

Radial Filter

Use the radial filter tool to increase the exposure very slightly on your main subject which will help to draw the viewer’s eye to it. Remember to click the “invert mask” checkbox to affect the area inside the circle. Otherwise, the default is to affect the area outside the circle you draw.

How to Speed Up Your Photo Editing with the Right Lightroom Workflow

Radial Filter in Lightroom.

Summary

I find that processing photos is more fun when it doesn’t take forever! Now with time saved doing basic processing, you may choose to take your photo into another photo editor to add special effects. Or you can just call it done and get back out in the field doing what you love: making photographs.


Want more? Try Anne’s Lightroom video course: Launch Into Lightroom to learn everything you need to know to get started in just a couple of hours.

The post How to Speed Up Your Photo Editing with the Right Lightroom Workflow by Anne McKinnell appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Lightroom Mastery: The Power of the Adjustment Brush

If there is one thing I wish I would have spent more time learning early on in my time with Lightroom, it’s the adjustment brush.

Lightroom is an incredible editing tool, arguably the easiest one to use, and the quickest to learn. The one thing that took me a while to wrap my head around when starting out, was how to use the Adjustment Brush. In this article I’d like to share a quick excerpt from the new Lightroom Mastery course I created for Digital Photography School. I hope you find it helpful.

Why the Adjustment Brush is Great

Lightroom excels at making changes to the entire image (global adjustments) super simple and effective. It really becomes a joy to use Lightroom once you get the hang of it. Need to pull up the shadows in an overly-contrasty image?  No problem; just pull up the shadow slider.  Need to correct for overexposure?  Easy – just drop the exposure slider.

But what do you do when you need to make a change to a very specific area (local adjustments), and you don’t want that to affect the rest of the image? This is exactly when you want to call upon the power of the Adjustment Brush.

Look at the difference an adjustment brush made in the sign, as well as brightening up the lower right corner.

Look at the difference an adjustment brush made in the sign, as well as brightening up the lower right corner of this image.

How the Adjustment Brush Works

Instead of making a global change to the entire canvas, the Adjustment Brush enables you to get very specific and just paint over where you would like to make changes.

This sounds simple, but is incredibly powerful – you now have the ability to affect big change in many different areas of your image, without resorting to bouncing the image over to Photoshop. Hey, I’m all about simplicity, and if I can get all my edits done in one program versus two, I’m all in!

A Perfect Example – Corvettes and Chrome

A good friend had just come to visit me from China, we decided to walk around the neighborhood and managed to catch a parade. It may not look like it, but this was in November in San Diego, one of the benefits of fair weather every day. I caught this image of this beautiful car driving by:

Lightroom adjustment brush, lightroom mastery course, lightroom mastery, dps, corvette, chrome, parade

I darkened the sky a bit and applied some more contrast to the ground and ended up with this:

Lightroom adjustment brush, lightroom mastery course, lightroom mastery, dps, corvette, chrome, parade

That looks good, but the photo really wasn’t capturing how bright the chrome wheels and bumper accents were. In short, I needed to do some local editing on just those pieces. Adjustment brush to the rescue!

Time to Shine – Creating a Chrome Adjustment Brush

Deciding where to start when creating your custom brush

I knew the key to making this photo pop was getting that chrome to come back to life. I first clicked into my Adjustment Brush window (hit K on your keyboard or select the Brush tool from the top of the right hand panel in the Develop Module) and reset all the sliders back to zero. Since the wheels were not facing the sun, they were underexposed and caught in shadow.

Creating the brush itself

Lightroom adjustment brush, lightroom mastery course, lightroom mastery, dps, corvette, chrome, paradeI decided to increase the exposure +1 stop, bump the shadows up to +28 to correct the darkness, and increase the whites to +20 to make the highlights in the chrome pop.

For good measure I increased the clarity to +30 to make sure the edges in that chrome highlights were nice and snappy. Here is what the adjustment window looked like before I started painting (see right)

This was an educated guess as to what I thought would work. If this worked well, I could leave it. If it didn’t, I could always move the sliders after painting, to change it as necessary.

Painting with the Adjustment Brush – best practices

There are a few guidelines I like to follow when painting with the Adjustment Brush. Here a few helpful tips to make this easy:

  • Use a brush size that is a bit smaller than the area you are trying to paint.  It helps if you don’t “color outside the lines”, although that is an easy fix if you do. A quick tip here: if you use a mouse with a scroll wheel you can change the size of your brush by scrolling up and down. It works the same with my Apple magic mouse.
  • Check the box for Auto Mask if you are painting something with fine edges you don’t want to go over. Auto Mask does a good job of keeping your brush inside the lines even if you go outside, which saves time.
  • I like to see the mask I’m painting versus the effects of the mask I’m painting. To have the mask show up in red either click Show selected mask overlay or simply click the O key on the keyboard to toggle the mask on and off.

Let’s get painting!

I quickly painted over the wheels, front bumper, headlights, and any other chrome I could find. It’s a bit difficult to see, since the mask is nearly the same color as the car (you can change the mask color by clicking Shift+O repeated times until you find a better color) but here is what the mask looked like after my initial run:

Lightroom adjustment brush, lightroom mastery course, lightroom mastery, dps, corvette, chrome, parade

Using the eraser tool to clean up mistakes

Wow, I’m apparently terrible at coloring inside the lines! In all reality, going outside the lines on this image didn’t make a noticeable difference, but we might as well do this right.

To clean up areas where you’ve overpainted all you have to do is click Erase in your Adjustment Brush window. This will pull up a brush that will erase the mask area when you paint over it. This is important: make sure to click click the A or B brush after using the eraser so you don’t forget and start painting over areas with the eraser versus the brush by accident!

After a quick clean-up I ended up with this, which is much better:

Lightroom adjustment brush, lightroom mastery course, lightroom mastery, dps, corvette, chrome, parade

Let’s turn off the mask and see how it looks

Remember, to turn off the mask you can simply click the O key on your keyboard. Here you see my image after the adjustment brush has been applied:

Lightroom adjustment brush, lightroom mastery course, lightroom mastery, dps, corvette, chrome, parade

Much better!  The chrome wheels and bumper are much brighter now, and look a lot better.  The only thing I don’t like now, is how dark the drivers-side door is.

It’s a pretty easy fix to create a new brush to bring up the shadows, so I’ll do that.

Starting a new mask in the same image

It’s important to think of masks like layers. The wheels and bumpers are painted with one mask, that has one group of settings.

If I want to make a new adjustment brush with different settings for the door, I need to create a new mask, as opposed to just moving the sliders around. If I move the sliders around without creating a new mask, that will make changes to the current active mask (my wheels and bumpers).

To make a new mask just click New at the top of the mask menu. I only increased the exposure setting to +1 to add a full stop of light to the side, painted over the door and rear of the car, and got this:

Lightroom adjustment brush, lightroom mastery course, lightroom mastery, dps, corvette, chrome, parade

Let’s compare that to the second edit before I used any adjustment brushes:

Lightroom adjustment brush, lightroom mastery course, lightroom mastery, dps, corvette, chrome, parade

Before Adjustment Brushes were applied.

Much better!

This is just one simple example, the sky’s the limit!

There are endless possibilities with the adjustment brush. I could have changed the color of this entire car if I wanted to as well.

You can lighten up dark areas of images and vice versa. You can apply sharpening or clarify to individual areas. You can do a whole host of beauty editing like whitening teeth, giving eyes more color,  and more.

If you found this helpful, you will LOVE the new DPS Lightroom Mastery course!

lightroom-mastery.jpg

There are far too many excellent tips to learning how to master Lightroom to include in a blog post, so Digital Photography tasked me with creating the best and most comprehensive Lightroom video course on the web!

In Lightroom Mastery I break down everything in Lightroom and teach you more in three hours, than most photographers learn in years. I cover every module, tool, tip, and trick from my 10 years using Lightroom.

During the initial launch, dPS is doing a huge 50% discount on the course!  The price will regularly be $99, but during this special launch it’s only $49!

Go grab the course before the sale is over

You can click this link to learn more about what is included in the course, watch a preview video, and purchase the course!

The post Lightroom Mastery: The Power of the Adjustment Brush by Mike Newton appeared first on Digital Photography School.

tfttf724 – Solar Charging Camera Batteries

Receive free updates Rusty says hi to the “Top Floor Cyberspace Slackers” and asks why we should post process. Chris has some ideas about this. Volker does a road trip in California and wonders if it’s the right decision to leave half his gear back home in Germany. Chris has learned to travel light, so … Continue reading "tfttf724 – Solar Charging Camera Batteries"

The post tfttf724 – Solar Charging Camera Batteries appeared first on PHOTOGRAPHY TIPS FROM THE TOP FLOOR.

Using Levels in Photoshop to Image Correct Color and Contrast

Notice the difference some quick adjustments in the Levels tool can make

Notice the difference some quick adjustments using the Levels tool can make

Image editing is an important part of making your good images look spectacular. Photoshop and Lightroom are packed with tools to help you get your images to look great after you have downloaded them on to your computer. While there are many different tools in Photoshop to enhance your image, there are really only a handful of tools that you will use on just about every image; one of those is the levels tool. Photoshop has a levels tool, Lightroom doesn’t unfortunately. Each photographer has a different workflow when editing images, my suggestion is to follow a process that is the same for each image. When you open up an image in Photoshop or Lightroom, the first step is to look at the exposure. Is the image over or underexposed? At this stage of the workflow, you could be looking at a tool like the Shadow and Highlights adjustment, the next one to use would be Levels.

What is the Levels tool?

Levels tool in Photoshop

Levels tool in Photoshop

Levels does two things in one tool, it corrects the tonal range in an image and it corrects the colour balance. Adjustments made using the Levels tool are not only about getting the exposure on your image correct; it also has a second function and that is, it can correct for colour too. Yes, there are other tools within Photoshop that can do this, but the Levels tool can make it really quick and easy.

The Levels tool uses a histogram to show a visual representation of the tonal range in your image. There is a lot to be said about a histogram, but the most important thing to remember is that there is no right or wrong histogram. If you are unsure about how a histogram works, check out: How to read and use Histograms. On the histogram in the Levels tool, you will see a numerical range starting at zero on the left hand side of the graph, and 255 on the right. In the Levels function, zero represents black and if you have pixels that are at zero, that means there is no detail, they are totally black. The right hand side at 255 represents total white. If you have pixels at 255 that means they are totally white, with no detail. If the shape of your histogram is leaning to the left hand side, that means you have a lot of dark pixels in your image and your image is possibly underexposed. If the histogram is more on the right hand side that means you have a lot of bright highlights in your image and it is possibly overexposed. The middle slider is the mid-tone or gamma adjustment. All the pixels that are not highlights or shadows, fall into this category.

How does the Levels tool work?

When you open the Levels tool, very often your first instinct is to push the sliders into a position that makes the image look brighter. That can work, but I suggest that you do the following: Before you make any adjustments, take a look at your image and see if you can pick up a colour cast. This is a tint or colour that affects the whole image, and is often unwanted. For example, if you have a wedding photo of a bride shot on an overcast day and while everything looks okay, there may be a slight blue hue in the image from the overcast light. This means that her dress looks a little blue instead of white. In a case like this, a colour cast is something you want to get rid of. If however you have shot a summer sunset and the whole scene is bathed in warm orange light, this could also be seen as a colour cast, but in that case you would probably not want change it. One way to find colour casts in your images is to look at an area of the image that should be white and see if it has a tint. A colour cast will vary depending on the light you shot under; it could be green, magenta, blue, yellow, orange, or anything in between.

How to use the Levels tool

Make and adjustment layer for Levels

Make and adjustment layer for Levels

You can use the Levels tool on any image that needs the colour or contrast corrected. If you have an image that needs to have the colour cast corrected, like my shot of the Star Wars Stormtrooper does, then do the following:

  1. Open your image in Photoshop.
  2. Click on the adjustment layer icon at the bottom of the Layer panel and create a Levels adjustment layer, or click on the Levels tool icon in the adjustments panel which is directly above the layers panel.

Step 1 – If you need to do colour correction

If your image has a colour cast (the example image does, as there is a slight blue colour because it was overcast weather that day), follow these steps. Not all images need to have the colour corrected, if you are happy with the colour in your image you won’t need to do this. If you do have a colour cast in your image, then do the following:

Bring the white and black sliders to the point where the graph starts moving upwards

Bring the white and black sliders to the point where the graph starts moving upward

Part 1: In the levels tool, click on the drop down box above the histogram that says RGB. This will open up the three channels individually. Click on RED and bring the white slider and black slider in to part of the histogram where it starts to move upwards. Click on the the RGB drop down box again and click on GREEN and do the same, and finally click on BLUE and repeat one more time. This step will only work if there is a colour cast in your image. If there is no colour cast, the histogram will spread to the edges of the graph. In this image, there was a colour cast and this was how the GREEN channel histogram looked.

The red areas in the screenshot above show you where there was no colour information. By sliding the sliders inward to the edge of the graph, you will start to neutralize the colour cast.
Part 2: You will notice that as you make these adjustments, your image may have a very strong colour cast of the channel you are adjusting. Don’t be alarmed, this will all work out once you make the final adjustments.
Part 3: Once you have adjusted for the colour correction in all three colors, you can now adjust the exposure and contrast

Don't be alarmed at the crazy colours you might see during the colour cast adjustments, they will work out in the end.

Don’t be alarmed at the crazy colours you might see during the colour cast adjustments, they will work out in the end.

Step 2 – Adjusting for exposure and contrast

The Levels tool can also adjust your image’s exposure and contrast. In other words, you can use it to make the highlights, shadows and mid-tones brighter or darker – an all-in-one tool. The levels tool is really great to make some quick adjustments to your image, here is how:

Part 1: In the RGB channel, move the white slider in from the right to the edge of the histogram. Do the same for the black slider, adjusting it in to the edge of the histogram on the left. The important tip here is to make sure that you don’t overexpose the highlights and underexpose the shadows. This is called clipping and the best way to see if you are clipping any pixels is to hold down the ALT key when you are adjusting the white and black sliders.
2. Once you have those two sliders adjusted, you can slide the mid tone slider to add some contrast to the scene and this will be the final touch to your levels adjustment.

The final adjustment showing colour correction and contrast correction

The final adjustment showing colour correction and contrast correction

Some final tips to remember

1. Like any tool in Photoshop, if levels is overdone, you will be able to see it in the image. So, be aware of over adjusting your image.
2. Small adjustments always work better than one big adjustment. Make small changes first and see if that works.
3. Use the ALT key to make sure you aren’t losing detail in the shadows and the highlights by clipping your pixels.
4. Add some contrast to your images in levels, that will give your image a bit more pop and will enrich the tones.

The levels tool is a powerful ally to have in your image editing workflow. I use this tool on just about every image I edit. It can really add some contrast and punch to your images so try and use it as often as needed. These techniques take practice, but once you know what to do, the levels tool is quick and easy to use.

Compare the images side by side, there is a subtle but real difference

Compare the images side by side, there is a subtle but real difference

The post Using Levels in Photoshop to Image Correct Color and Contrast by Barry J Brady appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Simple Post-Processing Tips For Minimalists

Pink Flowers on a cloudy day

Are you a minimalist in terms of your photography? Do you crave simple composition and clean lines in your images? There are many wonderful articles on minimalist photography and simple imagery. In fact Valerie Jardin has a fantastic article on Minimalist Photography – 4 Tips To Keep It Simple right here on Digital Photography School.

This article encourages you to take that approach a step further into post-processing to achieve a clean, timeless look to your imagery. A clean, crisp image always stands the test of time. You don’t have to look very far, just dig into your own image archives from prior years and see which images appeal to you the most.

As a photographer, your greatest achievement is when you are able to capture images exactly as you envision them or see them with your mind’s eye. When you import your images to your computer and the SOOC (Straight Out Of Camera) image simply takes your breath away, you know you’ve got what it takes. While all of us aim for that exact moment of shining glory, sometimes we need to add just a little bit of oomph to the image, simple adjustments that take the image from great to awesome.

Here are some post-processing tips on achieving a great look using simple adjustments. These are all done in Lightroom 5 – a great processing tool for you – using only the Basic and Lens Corrections Panels. The Basic Panel in LR contains adjustment sliders like: Temperature and Tint which adjust White Balance, Exposure and Contrast, Highlights, Shadows, Whites and Blacks which adjust Tone and Clarity, and Vibration and Saturation which adjust Presence. The Lens Correction Panel in LR primarily contains profile corrections for various Lenses.

Lightroom 5 Basic Panel and Lens Profile Correction Panel

Another point to note is: Use RAW format for your images if your camera has the ability to record images in that format. This type of file format has a lot more leeway in terms of post-processing adjustments. There are several articles in the Digital Photography School’s archives that discuss RAW file formats in great detail.

Post-Processing Steps for Minimalist

1) Enable the Lens Correction

Certain lenses, particularly wide angles, introduce some distortion in the images, especially around the edges of the frame. This is generally more obvious in images that either have horizontal lines, curved lines  or the horizon in the frame. Lens Correction can be done in the Profile tab where you can Enable Profile Corrections. Selecting that box, should bring up the profile of the lens used for that particular image. With each new version of LR (we are currently in LR 5.6) more and more lens profiles are being added to the software.

Note: if you cannot find your lens you can try looking on the manufacturers site or use one that is similar.

In the Profile mode, LR automatically detects the lens used and corrects the distortion. Finer adjustments can be done using the sliders under the Lens Profile. You may have to drop down the list and find your particular lens. Enabling Profile Corrections first eliminates the distortion and sometimes brightens the images just a tad – which might be just what the image needs. For more control, switch to the Manual tab for individual profile correction adjustments.

Left is SOOC; Right is Lens Correction adjustment (notice the wood panel in the top of the image)

The left image is SOOC; the right has Lens Correction adjustments done (notice the wood panel in the top of the image)

2) The Basic Adjustment Panel is your BFF (best friend forever)

80% of all minimalistic adjustments happen in the Basic Panel. White Balance (Temperature and Tint) are the most commonly used sliders. Most adjustments are quite minimal. A few stops up or down generally gives you exactly what you are looking for. Take note that small adjustments are very subtle. If your photograph has people, be cognizant of skin tones and colors as they can vary a lot among people and hence the WB slider numbers will also vary. Other variables that affect white balance are; the type of light (artificial versus natural) as well as the time of day (morning, high noon, or dusk). If your camera has the ability to do custom adjust white balance in camera, you can use that to further reduce this adjustment step. Photographing in Auto White Balance versus Custom White Balance is a personal choice.

Left is SOOC; Right has Lens Correction, White Balance (Temp/Tint) adjusted

The left image is SOOC; the right has Lens Correction and White Balance (Temp/Tint) adjusted.

3) Exposure and Contrast go hand-in-hand

The easies way to explain exposure is its ability to brighten or darken an image. Moving it to the right (+) adds brightness to the overall image and moving it to the left (-) reduces brightness. Often times when adjusting exposure more than half or one full stop (i.e. adding more brightness) the overall contrast of the image is affected. The Contrast slider adds more definition between the darks and the lights in the image. Play with the contrast sliders (Contrast and Clarity); they provide an additional pop to the colors in the image that are generally blown out when exposure is drastically increased.

Left is SOOC; Right has Lens Correction and White Balance (Temp/Tint) adjusted

The left image is SOOC; the right has Lens Correction and White Balance (Temp/Tint) adjusted.

Left is SOOC; Right has Lens Correction, White Balance and Contrast adjusted

The left image is SOOC; the right has Lens Correction, White Balance, and Contrast adjusted.

Left is SOOC; Right has Lens Correction, White Balance (Temp/Tint), Exposure and Contrast adjusted

The left image is SOOC; the right has Lens Correction, White Balance (Temp/Tint), Exposure, and Contrast adjusted.

In most cases, minimalistic editing is done at this point. Highlights/Shadows/Whites and Blacks can be adjusted to taste depending on the image. With Portraits, you can also adjust the Clarity slider a bit just to smooth out the skin. For more information on Clarity Slider check out Peter West Carey’s article Lightroom’s Clarity Slider – What Does it Do? in the dPS archives. The easiest thing to remember about the Clarity slider is that it adjusts the edge contrast in only the mid-tones of the image. Go easy with this slider because a little does go a long way and too much clarity, particularly on skin, can provide a very plastic looking skin.

Left is SOOC; Right has Lens Correction, White Balance (Temp/Tint), Exposure and Contrast, Clarity and Highlights adjusted

The left image is SOOC; the right has Lens Correction, White Balance (Temp/Tint), Exposure, Contrast, Clarity and Highlights adjusted.

Left is SOOC; Right has Lens Correction, White Balance (Temp/Tint), Exposure and Contrast, Clarity and Highlights adjusted

The left image is SOOC; the right has Lens Correction, White Balance (Temp/Tint), Exposure, Contrast, Clarity and Highlights adjusted.

As always, the amount of post-processing you do to an image is a personal choice, including the minimalistic option; but it definitely provides for a faster workflow – less than a few minutes per image. In most cases of minimalistic post-processing the adjustments are very subtle. Less time in front of the computer equals more time spent perfecting the art of photography to get those nearly perfect images right out of the camera.

The post Simple Post-Processing Tips For Minimalists by Karthika Gupta appeared first on Digital Photography School.

How to Correct Skin Blemishes Using the Patch Tool in Photoshop

There are many articles that discuss the overuse of skin smoothing in portrait photography. Photographers strive to find a balance between realistic skin and fixing the imperfections. Obviously, one way to minimize the use of Photoshop for skin issues is to hire a phenomenal makeup artist who can make the skin look realistic and flawless all at the same time. For the times when there are issues with a client’s skin I try to not go overboard and fix every little thing. I want my client to still look like themselves when I am done editing.

UsingPatchToolSidebySideBeforeandAfter_DigitalPhotographySchool_LoriPeterson600

Some photographers use the spot healing brush religiously. I never use it. Instead I use the patch tool. My reasoning is that the Patch tool actually takes samples of the pixels and closely matches them to what you are trying to fix. If the results are not quite right, you can tweak them to suit your needs.

Step 1. Open your image

As you can see my model is absolutely beautiful, but she does have a few blemishes on her skin and we are going to fix those before we give the image to her.

Step 2. Select an area and apply a path

Hit Ctrl or Command + J to duplicate your layer. You can add a Layer Mask in case you want to undo anything later.  Then select the Patch tool and draw around the part of the skin that you want to replace (make sure the “Source” setting is selected to patch the source from the destination so it will use information from the area you drag to fix the blemish). Once selected, keep holding your mouse down and move it over to better spot of brighter skin. The skin does not have to be in the same area where you are working. You can use skin from the neck, shoulder, hand, or wherever you find better, smooth skin.

1UsingPatchToolEdits_DigitalPhotographySchool_LoriPeterson600

Step 3. Repeat and refine

Repeat the process for any other skin issues. Just keep circling the area you want to replace and dragging the circle over to a clean area. If you change something you did not want to or it doesn’t look right you can use your layer mask to hide it or you can click undo (Cmmd/Ctrl+Z).

Step 4. Reduce dark circles under eyes

Most of the time you will find that some dark circles under the eyes are showing. While it’s actually normal, we want our clients or models to look bright eyed.  If you want to decrease these, simply use the patch tool and circle the under eye area. Drag that circled area over to better skin. The result will be very harsh if left like that, so fade the technique. Go to Edit > Fade Patch Selection and a pop up window will appear. Lower the slider until the fade looks like it will blend in. Repeat the process for the other eye. The percentage of fade you use may not be the same on both sides, depending on the lighting.

2UsingPatchTool_DigitalPhotographySchool_LoriPeterson600

Step 5. Review and merge layers

Once you finish, you will see that the skin looks much better and smoother, but the details of the skin are still there without being overly fake looking. If you are satisfied, merge your layers. If you are going to do any further edits, go to your History in the Layers Palette and make a snapshot of the image so you can always come back to it.

Step 6. Brighten eyes optional

Optionally, you can brighten up the eyes a bit. Duplicate your layer again using Ctrl or Command + J. Again, add a Layer Mask in case you might want to change anything later. Select the Dodge Tool and make sure your exposure is set to around 30%. Take a big brush that covers the eye and the brow and in one motion with your mouse sweep over the eye and the brow. You can adjust the layer if it’s too bright or use your Layer Mask and remove the parts that might be too overdone.

3UsingPatchTool_DigitalPhotographySchool_LoriPeterson600

The Patch Tool can be one of the easiest and quickest ways to clean up skin and still retain the overall look of your client without making the image seem overdone. After a few times, using the Patch Tool can become like a second nature and skin edits will go quicker. Here is the before and after showing that with just a few motions with the patch tool you can achieve an overall better image where skin looks smoother, brighter, and still looks natural.

UsingPatchToolSidebySideBeforeandAfter_DigitalPhotographySchool_LoriPeterson600

The post How to Correct Skin Blemishes Using the Patch Tool in Photoshop by Lori Peterson appeared first on Digital Photography School.

tfttf653 – The Big Pile Of Digital Guilt

Chris talks about building a pile of digital guilt that we build by delaying decisions in photography to the post processing phase. Not only does that move the issue from the front to the back of the workflow (and yes, … Continue reading

The post tfttf653 – The Big Pile Of Digital Guilt appeared first on Photography Tips from the Top Floor.

Step by Step Portrait Processing in Lightroom

Andrew’s ebook Mastering Lightroom: Book Four – The Photos is available now at a special price of 40% off for a limited time from Snapndeals. It’s an advanced guide to processing photos in Lightroom’s Develop module, explaining how to use Lightroom’s powerful processing engine plus Develop Presets and plug-ins to create beautiful images. This photo is one of ten case studies from the book.

Portrait processing in Lightroom

The story

When you are photographing someone who enjoys being in front of the camera, take advantage of it. This was a simple portrait to take and its strength comes from the model’s spirit, not fancy technique. I’ve worked with her before and know that she is good at creating different facial expressions. I asked her to give me a series and every time she changed her expression I took another photo. Experienced models will pose, pause until you take the photo, and then move onto the next one, making your job as a portrait photographer much easier.

You can’t see it in this photo but the model was holding a silver reflector slightly beneath her shoulders. The reflected daylight created a wonderful clean lighting effect that made processing the portrait much easier.

First steps

Here’s the original portrait as it appeared straight out of the camera. It was taken with an 85mm lens set to f/1.8, throwing the background out of focus.

Portrait processing in Lightroom

I knew from the start that I wanted the model’s expression to be the focal point of the portrait. The use of a short telephoto lens and a wide aperture has partly achieved that, but the photo required more work. The first task was to tackle the background. Although out of focus, its brightness was a big distraction. My main job here was to make the background darker so the viewer’s eye goes straight to the model.

My hope today is that by following this tutorial and applying the techniques I used to your own photos, you will learn how to create better portraits in Lightroom.

Step 1: Basic adjustments

I prepared the photo by going to the Camera Calibration panel and setting Profile to Camera Portrait. Next I went to the Lens Corrections panel and enabled Chromatic Aberration removal and Profile Corrections, setting Vignetting to zero.

I wanted clean, neutral skin tones, so I went to the Basic panel and moved the Temp slider slightly (from 4850 to 4520) to remove the warm tint.

Step 2: Add a vignette using the Radial Filter

Next I used the Radial Filter tool to make the background darker. I placed the filter so that the top half surrounded the model’s face and shoulders. In this position the Radial Filter can be used to make the area either side and above the model darker, without affecting the bottom part of the portrait. I set Exposure to -4.0 to see the area affected by the adjustment.

Portrait processing in Lightroom

When I was happy with the position of the Radial Filter I reset Exposure to zero, then reduced it until the background went quite dark. I also set Saturation to -70 to remove colour from the background. How much you push the Exposure slider in this situation is always subjective. Some of you will want to retain a fair amount of detail in the background, others will be content to make it go completely black.

Portrait processing in Lightroom

Note: Radial filters are new to Lightroom 5. In earlier versions the best way to achieve a similar effect would be to place a Graduated Filter on either side of the model, and use Adjustment Brush adjustments to fill in the gaps. An alternative technique is to use the Post-Crop Vignetting tool, and lighten any areas that are too dark (such as the model’s shoulders in this example) with the Adjustment Brush tool.

Step 3: Refine the vignette with the Adjustment Brush

While the Radial Filter is an excellent tool for making backgrounds darker, it’s not perfect. The feathering required for a gradual transition may leave some areas of the background close to the subject too light. In this case there were still areas around the hood that were a little bright.

So I used the Adjustment Brush tool to select those areas and reduced Exposure (to -0.65) to make them darker. I didn’t have to be precise with the placement of the Adjustment Brush as the background was already quite dark and out of focus.

Portrait processing in Lightroom

Tip: If you find that the use of the Adjustment Brush is obvious, try setting Feather to 100 and Flow to 50%. This lets you build up the effect little by little instead of doing it all in one brush stroke.

Step 4: Retouching with the Adjustment Brush

This portrait didn’t need much retouching, but there were still a couple of things I wanted to do. The first was to minimize the lines under the model’s eyes. Note that I didn’t want to get rid of them completely, as they are a natural part of her expression. The lines were created by her smile and winking action, and removing them would look unnatural.

I used the Adjustment Brush tool (zoomed in), and carefully painted over the lines under her eyes. I kept the brush size small so as not to affect the neighbouring areas.

Then I selected the Soften Skin preset from the Effect menu. Lightroom applied the skin smoothing effect at full strength by setting Clarity to -100 and Sharpness to +25. This was too strong. To reduce it, I clicked on the pin that marked the Adjustment Brush, held the left mouse button down and dragged the mouse left. Lightroom reduced the intensity of the effect by moving the Clarity and Sharpness sliders in proportion (this technique works with any setting from the Effect menu). I stopped when it looked right (Clarity -45, Sharpness +11).

Portrait processing in Lightroom

I created a new Adjustment Brush to cover the model’s eyes, mouth and eyebrows. I pushed the Clarity slider to +40 to bring a bit of extra sharpness and contrast to those areas. The screen shot shows the areas covered by the Adjustment Brush.

Portrait processing in Lightroom

Step 5: Framing the portrait

The model’s hood creates a natural frame for her face and is an essential part of the composition. I decided to emphasize it by using Clarity to bring out the texture of the fur.

I created another selection using the Adjustment Brush tool and increased Clarity (to 56), Contrast (to 22) and Exposure (to 0.26). The hood is a frame that draw the viewer’s eye to the centre of the frame, and these adjustments help to emphasize it. I needed to find the balance between emphasis and distraction; highlighting the beautiful texture of the fur lined hood without pulling too much attention away from the model’s expression. This screen shot shows the area covered by the Adjustment Brush.

Portrait processing in Lightroom

Next I went to the Basic panel and reduced Vibrance to -14 to de-emphasize the colours a little more. Finally, I used a small Adjustment Brush to lighten the edge of the model’s right shoulder, which had been darkened by the Radial Filter adjustment earlier. The area covered by the Adjustment Brush is shown in the screen shot.

Portrait processing in Lightroom

Comparing before and after results

Here are the original and final versions together so you can compare them.

Portrait processing in Lightroom

What do you think of these processing techniques? There’s more than one way to process most photos – do you have any suggestions for an alternative interpretation of the original Raw file? Please let me know in the comments.

Mastering Lightroom: Book Four – The PhotosAndrew’s ebook Mastering Lightroom: Book Four – The Photos is available now at a special price of 40% off for a limited time from Snapndeals. It’s an advanced guide to processing photos in Lightroom’s Develop module, explaining how to use Lightroom’s powerful processing engine plus Develop Presets and plug-ins to create beautiful images. This photo is one of ten case studies from the book.

The post Step by Step Portrait Processing in Lightroom by Andrew S. Gibson appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Step by Step Portrait Processing in Lightroom

Andrew’s ebook Mastering Lightroom: Book Four – The Photos is available now at a special price of 40% off for a limited time from Snapndeals. It’s an advanced guide to processing photos in Lightroom’s Develop module, explaining how to use Lightroom’s powerful processing engine plus Develop Presets and plug-ins to create beautiful images. This photo is one of ten case studies from the book.

Portrait processing in Lightroom

The story

When you are photographing someone who enjoys being in front of the camera, take advantage of it. This was a simple portrait to take and its strength comes from the model’s spirit, not fancy technique. I’ve worked with her before and know that she is good at creating different facial expressions. I asked her to give me a series and every time she changed her expression I took another photo. Experienced models will pose, pause until you take the photo, and then move onto the next one, making your job as a portrait photographer much easier.

You can’t see it in this photo but the model was holding a silver reflector slightly beneath her shoulders. The reflected daylight created a wonderful clean lighting effect that made processing the portrait much easier.

First steps

Here’s the original portrait as it appeared straight out of the camera. It was taken with an 85mm lens set to f/1.8, throwing the background out of focus.

Portrait processing in Lightroom

I knew from the start that I wanted the model’s expression to be the focal point of the portrait. The use of a short telephoto lens and a wide aperture has partly achieved that, but the photo required more work. The first task was to tackle the background. Although out of focus, its brightness was a big distraction. My main job here was to make the background darker so the viewer’s eye goes straight to the model.

My hope today is that by following this tutorial and applying the techniques I used to your own photos, you will learn how to create better portraits in Lightroom.

Step 1: Basic adjustments

I prepared the photo by going to the Camera Calibration panel and setting Profile to Camera Portrait. Next I went to the Lens Corrections panel and enabled Chromatic Aberration removal and Profile Corrections, setting Vignetting to zero.

I wanted clean, neutral skin tones, so I went to the Basic panel and moved the Temp slider slightly (from 4850 to 4520) to remove the warm tint.

Step 2: Add a vignette using the Radial Filter

Next I used the Radial Filter tool to make the background darker. I placed the filter so that the top half surrounded the model’s face and shoulders. In this position the Radial Filter can be used to make the area either side and above the model darker, without affecting the bottom part of the portrait. I set Exposure to -4.0 to see the area affected by the adjustment.

Portrait processing in Lightroom

When I was happy with the position of the Radial Filter I reset Exposure to zero, then reduced it until the background went quite dark. I also set Saturation to -70 to remove colour from the background. How much you push the Exposure slider in this situation is always subjective. Some of you will want to retain a fair amount of detail in the background, others will be content to make it go completely black.

Portrait processing in Lightroom

Note: Radial filters are new to Lightroom 5. In earlier versions the best way to achieve a similar effect would be to place a Graduated Filter on either side of the model, and use Adjustment Brush adjustments to fill in the gaps. An alternative technique is to use the Post-Crop Vignetting tool, and lighten any areas that are too dark (such as the model’s shoulders in this example) with the Adjustment Brush tool.

Step 3: Refine the vignette with the Adjustment Brush

While the Radial Filter is an excellent tool for making backgrounds darker, it’s not perfect. The feathering required for a gradual transition may leave some areas of the background close to the subject too light. In this case there were still areas around the hood that were a little bright.

So I used the Adjustment Brush tool to select those areas and reduced Exposure (to -0.65) to make them darker. I didn’t have to be precise with the placement of the Adjustment Brush as the background was already quite dark and out of focus.

Portrait processing in Lightroom

Tip: If you find that the use of the Adjustment Brush is obvious, try setting Feather to 100 and Flow to 50%. This lets you build up the effect little by little instead of doing it all in one brush stroke.

Step 4: Retouching with the Adjustment Brush

This portrait didn’t need much retouching, but there were still a couple of things I wanted to do. The first was to minimize the lines under the model’s eyes. Note that I didn’t want to get rid of them completely, as they are a natural part of her expression. The lines were created by her smile and winking action, and removing them would look unnatural.

I used the Adjustment Brush tool (zoomed in), and carefully painted over the lines under her eyes. I kept the brush size small so as not to affect the neighbouring areas.

Then I selected the Soften Skin preset from the Effect menu. Lightroom applied the skin smoothing effect at full strength by setting Clarity to -100 and Sharpness to +25. This was too strong. To reduce it, I clicked on the pin that marked the Adjustment Brush, held the left mouse button down and dragged the mouse left. Lightroom reduced the intensity of the effect by moving the Clarity and Sharpness sliders in proportion (this technique works with any setting from the Effect menu). I stopped when it looked right (Clarity -45, Sharpness +11).

Portrait processing in Lightroom

I created a new Adjustment Brush to cover the model’s eyes, mouth and eyebrows. I pushed the Clarity slider to +40 to bring a bit of extra sharpness and contrast to those areas. The screen shot shows the areas covered by the Adjustment Brush.

Portrait processing in Lightroom

Step 5: Framing the portrait

The model’s hood creates a natural frame for her face and is an essential part of the composition. I decided to emphasize it by using Clarity to bring out the texture of the fur.

I created another selection using the Adjustment Brush tool and increased Clarity (to 56), Contrast (to 22) and Exposure (to 0.26). The hood is a frame that draw the viewer’s eye to the centre of the frame, and these adjustments help to emphasize it. I needed to find the balance between emphasis and distraction; highlighting the beautiful texture of the fur lined hood without pulling too much attention away from the model’s expression. This screen shot shows the area covered by the Adjustment Brush.

Portrait processing in Lightroom

Next I went to the Basic panel and reduced Vibrance to -14 to de-emphasize the colours a little more. Finally, I used a small Adjustment Brush to lighten the edge of the model’s right shoulder, which had been darkened by the Radial Filter adjustment earlier. The area covered by the Adjustment Brush is shown in the screen shot.

Portrait processing in Lightroom

Comparing before and after results

Here are the original and final versions together so you can compare them.

Portrait processing in Lightroom

What do you think of these processing techniques? There’s more than one way to process most photos – do you have any suggestions for an alternative interpretation of the original Raw file? Please let me know in the comments.

Mastering Lightroom: Book Four – The PhotosAndrew’s ebook Mastering Lightroom: Book Four – The Photos is available now at a special price of 40% off for a limited time from Snapndeals. It’s an advanced guide to processing photos in Lightroom’s Develop module, explaining how to use Lightroom’s powerful processing engine plus Develop Presets and plug-ins to create beautiful images. This photo is one of ten case studies from the book.

The post Step by Step Portrait Processing in Lightroom by Andrew S. Gibson appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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