Thursday, February 24, 2011

What's the First Thing You Do In Lightroom?

When I teach Lightroom, I ask the workshop students, "What's the first thing you do when you open the program?"

Some folks say, "Crop."

Others say, "Adjust the Exposure."

Still others say, "I don't know what the heck to do first. Help!"

Well, here is what I recommend as a very first step: Put down your stylus (if you are using a Wacom tablet) or take your hand off your mouse, and ask yourself, "What is lacking in a picture - and what can I do to make it better?"

Take your time, think a lot . . . as Cat Stevens used to say/sing.

Here is an example of what I'm talking about.
Above is a screen grab of my original image in Lightroom. In looking at the original photograph (the best I could get with my Canon 100-400mm IS lens from a bleacher that was about 300 yards away from these charging Mongolian soldiers), I asked myself: "What is lacking in the picture?"

The picture was lacking:
• Impact 
• Contrast 
• Color 
• Sharpness  

Knowing that, I made the following adjustments. The order does really not matter - except for sharpening. You should always sharpen last.

• Impact - improved by cropping out the dead space.
• Contrast - improved by adjusting the Tone Curve. 
• Color - improved by increasing the Saturation.
• Sharpness - improved by boosting the Clarity and Sharpness.

Play around with the Tone Curve. It is one of the coolest features in Lightroom. Also, when you are sharpening, place the most important part of the picture in the Sharpening window.

Below is another shot from the same event. Here, too, Lightroom came to the rescue!

Explore the light,

P.S. You can order Lightroom here:


RobertoCarlos Sanchez said...

I think always is important take a moment and see your photography and evalute the aspects that make your work special.

Thanks for share your knowledge with all.

Joe Ercoli - Anvil Image said...

The very first thing I usually do is hit the letter "e" to make sure that I'm in Library mode (Loupe).

zman said...

Um actually the first thing I do is import my pictures.

Dru Stefan Stone said...

Like your new heading font on the blog!

Roy Booth said...

First thing I do is make sure I've keyworded and copyrighted the import

Brook said...

I am with zman here... I import them first. To me what I do with them second is the big question.... Or is it third???

Stacey said...

Always learning something new from you Rick. Thanks!

Mike said...

The ABSOLUTE FIRST thing I do in Lightroom is to ensure the image is straight, or at the appropriate angle which will fulfill my vision. :)

DJK said...

First is go to import. Setup for where, 2nd copy, copywrite, etc..
Then I select the images I want to keep and place them in a 'collection'. After that it is all about 'finishing'.
I don't use the 'tone curve' but i like your suggestion and will start to use it (try it).
Thank you for the TIP.

Jason Paluck, MS, NREMT-P said...


I recently realized my Lightroom RAW import process was not only getting quite lengthy, but also fairly repetitive. I just put up a blog post about how I've turned this workflow into a default import process so I can spend less time in post and more time out shooting. Hope your readers find it of some value.


Hans Mink said...

The first thing to do; just have a closer look before start hitting the buttons.

Anonymous said...

i <3 pictures