How I Make Beautiful Photos
in Adobe Lightroom
This blog post is a paid for advertorial in collaboration with Adobe.
Editing is one of those skills that takes practice and patience to perfect. I was taught how to use the Adobe suite back in College at age 16 but I picked it up pretty quickly luckily. I then also taught my first year degree students how to use Adobe Photoshop back when I lectured in 2014. It's something I hugely enjoyed, and even now I can spend hours with my hours glued to the computer screen as I condense thousands of images into a handful, crop, colour and grade them all up. We also use Premiere Pro to edit all of our vlogs, Adobe Bridge to cut down the amount of photos we have taken and Alex is a dab hand at Adobe After Effects too after his years working in motion graphics. However, my favourite of the bunch is Adobe Lightroom, and I feel this piece of software has only grown in usage by the masses over the last five years, as the world of presets has exploded. As you likely know, me and Alex also dabble in selling our own preset packs, but it is such tools as presets and the Lightroom mobile app, that have allowed the regular person to become a skilled editor. Yet delve even deeper, and with just a few simple tools, you could have your images looking fabulous in no time. Here are my favourite, photo-enhancing tools within Adobe Lightroom.
Crop and straighten your images.
The simplest of simple tools, but nothing bugs me more than seeing a photo where the skyline isn't completely straight. It just neatens everything up and makes it look like the photo has been taken with the surroundings in mind.
Go into your Adobe Lightroom mobile or desktop app. Adobe have streamlined their services, so that if you become a whizz at Lightroom Mobile, the desktop version is just a larger scale version, so now you can be a master at both. Plus, the two sync together over the cloud, so that if you're working on an image edit on your phone whilst on the move, and move over to your computer for more precision, the image will be ready to go on the next device.
On your desktop, use the Menu tab down the right hand side and select the second button down. This is the Crop & Rotate tool. By selecting, it will expand the menu to display a 'Straighten' feature - use this to change the angle of your image, and use the rulers on the screen to align your photo perfectly straight.
On the Lightroom mobile app, the crop tool is the third tool along the bottom from the left. As soon as you select it, an aligning tool will open just below your image that enables you to turn and align your image perfectly.
But also use this tool to crop your photographs. You might find that by cropping into a section of your larger photo, you can highlight the part of the image that is most important. Say if you've taken a photo of a person stood against a wall, and the person is tiny in the shot and the wall takes up 80% of the photo, crop into the image to centre and enlarge the person much more prominently in that image.
Exposure, Contrast, Shadows and Highlights.
These three are key to a usable picture. You can find them inside the 'Light' tab on mobile, or the Edit tool at the top of the desktop menu. In some cases, an image might have too many shadows if you took the photo under an overhead sun, not enough light if you took it too late when there was no sunshine or it may be a tad overexposed if you took the picture in super bright sunlight. Therefore you may need to play with these three tools in order to bring your images to a brightness that you prefer. It all depends on the mood or feel you want to create in your photo, but utilising these three tools and taking the slider from right to left on the scale will help to either expose the image correctly, reduce the super bright highlights from overexposure or lighten any shadows.
The contrast refers to the level of intensity between the lighter mid-tones and darker mid-tones in your image. By increasing the Contrast slider, found just below the Exposure slider, you'll find the darker tones in your image become sharper, deeper and contrasted against any lighter colours. Going too intense with the Contrast slider can make your image look unrealistic and into the realms of Film Noir vibes, but decreasing it entirely can wash out the tones in the image. Therefore a delicate hand is needed for adding the perfect amount of contrast to really bring out the tones you prefer.
Found inside the Lightroom mobile Colour tab, or if you scroll down the Edit menu bar on desktop, the Temperate tool can completely alter the cool and warm tones of your image. Moving the cursor from blue tones to yellow tones, will add more blue tones into your shot to cool it down - perfect if you shot in direct yellow sunshine. Or if you took your shot under blue strip lighting, adding more yellow will instead warm up the image. Bear in mind, that if you've taken a photograph on your phone, it's likely that the phone has auto corrected the temperature of your photo already. But if you're taking photographs on a camera, the temperate will play a huge factor in the warmth or coolness of the tones.
Saturation and Vibrancy:
You might find that due to the lighting you took your photograph in, that the colours in the photo are potentially dull or maybe even more pigmented that you would like. This is where Vibrancy and Saturation come into play. They both fundamentally do a similar job, of increasing or decreasing the intensity of the colours within your image. However, the Saturation tool will increase or decrease the intensity of every single colour in your image simultaneously, regardless of whether they are already extremely saturated already. For instance, if the reds in your image are already super red but your yellows are not, the intensity of the reds will become extreme if you're just trying to pop the intensity of the yellows a little more by using the Saturation tool. However, the Vibrancy tool will work to intensify the muted colours more so, whilst also protecting skin tones more efficiently. I often work with the Vibrancy tool more prominently for this reason - as often the Saturation tool can turn my skin orange. Vibrancy just 'pops' the image. Definitely play with these tools to elevate the colours in your photographs.
Temperature to cool.
Temperature to warm.
+50% Vibrancy only.
+50% Saturation only.
Colour Mixer / Hue, Saturation, Luminance
The Colour Mixer is the last tool I want to touch on in this blog post - I will likely create more blog posts in this series if you would be interested, and I can go into more depth on more complex tools. However playing with the Hue, Saturation and Luminance are tools that I feel just need practice and trialling in order to get more sophisticated using them, but they are my favourite tools. You can find the Colour Mixer inside the Colour tab on mobile and by clicking the colourful wheel next to the word 'Mix' in the top right of the menu. It is also called Colour Mixer on desktop.
This is where you can alter each and every specific colour tone in your image. Say if you want to change the tone of the greens in your picture of a field, or alter the blue of the sea, or the yellow of the sunflowers, the hue menu will allow you to do so. Just move the slider on each colour to start noticing the tones of that colour change. If you pay close attention to the colours shown in the slider bar, you can see that for instance if you move the red slider to the left, the reds will become more purple toned, whereas moving the slider right will inject more orange into the reds. But play around with each to start noticing the differences.
Then if you would like to alter the saturation of the reds only, or the blues only, you can do so by clicking into the Saturation tab beneath Colour Mixer. Again, use it in the same way, moving from right to left depending on how desaturated, or saturated, you would like each colour to be.
And thirdly, the Luminance tab allows you to alter the brightness of each and every separate colour. Again meaning that if you have a bright blue sky, and you wish to make it darker, you can change the brightness of the blue tones, only. It just gives you so much more control over each colour inside your image.
Blue Hue at +100
Blue Saturation at +100
Orange Luminance at +100
What did I use to edit these images?
These images were shot at around 7pm, meaning that the light was low and deep and bright. The most beautiful time for shooting photos in my opinion, but it does mean that the temperature of the photos could have been more on the yellow side. However, it turned out that due to the way Alex shot these images, I actually wanted it to feel warmer, so I moved the temperature slider towards the yellows, to increase the warmth.
I also reduced the highlights of the photo, to remove that over exposed white light over parts of my skin.
I also brought up the shadows a touch, as there was a large contrast between the lighter tones and the darker tones in the photos mainly due to my hat covering my face.
I used the hue tool in the Colour Mixer to slide the blues of the sky towards the teal/turquoise tones and also desaturated the blues in the sky too, to give a more hazy feel.
I also brought the saturation of the greens down, in order to dull the stems of the sunflowers down. And I moved the hue of the yellows left, towards the orange end of the hue scale, to bring more orange into the yellow of the sunflowers.