How to Edit Photos in Lightroom as a Beginner
Updated: Oct 6, 2018
When you're first starting out as a photographer, editing your photos can be really overwhelming! You spend hours learning how to use the fancy camera you bought, how to adjust the aperture, how to find the best lighting, how to control shutter speed, and so on! And once you've spent hours figuring that all out, you open up Lightroom and feel extremely overwhelmed with all of the options and strange words on the page!
Everyone edits their pictures differently, and I am in no way saying you should edit pictures exactly like I do or that my way is even the best way! But hopefully by seeing how someone else edits their pictures, you'll have a good place to start editing your own pictures and then personalize it as you practice more and more. So in this post, I'm going to walk you through how I edited the picture above! Let's get started!
Make sure you're on the Develop tab in Lightroom rather than the Library tab that you begin in. On the right-hand side of the screen you should see a sidebar with a drop down list of items like Basic, Tone Curve, Split Toning, Detail and a few others. This sidebar is how you're going to edit your pictures!
The key to any good edited picture is a good in-camera picture! If your settings were wrong in camera when you took the photo, it's going to be really hard to turn out a really captivating edited photo. Here's the original in-camera photo for our example.
Step 1: Lens Correction
This first thing I ever do with a picture is "Enable Profile Correction". Enabling the Profile Correction gets rid of the distortion and vignetting that your lens naturally does. This evens out the lighting! You do this under the Lens Correction section.
Step 2: Sharpen
The second thing I do is sharpen the image. I love really sharp pictures, so I crank up the sharpening almost all the way! Usually around 130 or so if it doesn't make the picture look super grainy. You do this under the Detail section!
Step 3: Make it Pop
Next, I crank up the Blacks! I usually turn the blacks down to about -70 because I love how increasing the presence of the blacks in the photos really makes them pop!
Once I've adjusted the Blacks, I usually go up and increase the contrast as well to add depth and make it pop even more. The contrast makes the whites whiter and the blacks blacker but it also does the same for colors too! Because I've just increased the amount of black in the photos by a lot, I usually end up adjusting the exposure too if I need to since I've darkened my photo a lot. But since this picture was already super bright to begin with I didn't need to up the exposure!
Step 4: Vibrancy and Saturation
Lastly, I increase the vibrance and saturation as much as I can to where they still look natural. You do this under the Basic section. On this picture I increased the vibrance to about 70 and the saturation to about 12. Sometimes I don't increase the saturation at all because increasing the vibrance is enough, but every picture is different! This is what our original picture looks like once the Vibrance and Saturation were adjusted.
And that's it!
Like I said, everyone edits differently, and as you get more practice editing your own pictures, you'll come up with your own editing process that works best for you! But until then, I hope that seeing my process has given you a good starting point! Go ahead and pin this article so you can reference it when you need it next!