My Top 10 Lightroom Tips

Lightroom Tips for Birth PhotographersI’ve already written about my Lightroom Workflow (Part 1, Part 2) but I wanted to add a post of miscellaneous tips I really like for Lightroom.

1. Culling – I’ve sped up my culling even more, with two methods. First, I go through all the images very quickly and assign them an X – get rid of it! or one star. I know, I know, all the experts say not to mix up stars and flags! But the truth is, I can do X and 1 with the same hand, very fast. Thumb on the X, pointer finger on the right, turn on auto advance. This leaves my right hand free for a candy bar. (Kidding, but maybe next time I’ll try it!) Once that is done, I delete the X files (ha! Did you get that?) and then go back to the keepers and rate them from 1-3 using the Survey Mode. (Keyboard shortcut N) This lets me see all the selected images at once. I do them in batches of 3-5 similar photos. Hit the X in the corner for the least liked ones, and add stars to the best. I’ve gotten really fast at that.

2. If you have images that are very similar but the exposures are a little different, use the “Match Total Exposures” feature to fix them. It’s easy. Say you have a group of images all taken in the same situation, but some are brighter than others. Select the one that is the best exposure. The one you want the others to match. Then using shift click or control click, select the others in the group. Go to Photo -> Develop Settings and choose “Match Total Exposures”. That’s it! They will all look much more alike. I swear it is magic!

3. Want to know what that preset you bought does? Go into explorer/finder and search your hard drive for *.lrtemplate – all your presets will come up. Open the preset in Notepad. You can see the settings that were changed.

4. My most used keyboard shortcuts:

  • G = goes to Library Module, grid view
  • R = goes to Develop Module, crop tool
  • X = when you are in the crop tool, switches the orientation of the crop. (outside of crop tool, marks the image for deletion, so be careful!)
  • N = goes to Library Module, survey mode
  • D = goes to Develop Module
  • Tab = quickly gets rid of the two side panels. I like to do this in survey mode
  • Control Z = undoes whatever mistake I just made
  • Control + and Control – changes the size of the adjustment brush or clone/heal tool
  • \ (backslash key) = in the develop module, shows you the image as imported. In the Library module, opens the sorting toolbar.

5. Adjustment brush presets! Did you know that presets are not just for global edits? You can create presets for your adjustment brush, too. So you if you have favorite settings for using the brush for skin softening, save them!

6. If you want to change any of the sliders by small amounts, you can click on the slider’s name and use the + and – keys. You can also hold down the shift key to use the + and – keys in different increments. You can also click on the little tab of the slider and use your scroll wheel on your mouse. Who knew!

7. Solo mode – this keeps only one section of the side panels open at a time. Saves me a TON of scrolling! To do it, right click on any one of the section titles (except the histogram. It always stays there, even in solo mode) and choose “Solo Mode”. Each side panel functions separately, so you can do solo mode on the right and not on the left. I like it everywhere!

8. Virtual copies! I love using these. They allow me to make multiple edits of the same image without making a duplicate of the RAW. To make a virtual copy, I use the shortcut Control (apostrophe). This is generally how I do a B&W conversion after I’ve done a color edit.

9. When working with a black and white conversion, you can get rid of muddy skin tones by using the colors in the HSL panel. I usually grab the TAT (Targeted Adjustment Tool) and click and drag up on the skin. It brightens it up nicely.

10. Double click the name of any slider to reset that slider only. Double click on the word “Effect” in the adjustment brush, graduated filter or radial filter to reset the whole tool.

Got a great Lightroom tip for birth photographer? Please, share it in the comments!

by Andrea Lythgoe
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