After becoming a bit too comfortable with my painfully outdated editing software from 2012, I finally succumbed to peer pressure and downloaded Lightroom 2015. Well peer pressure and the pressure of my old software being unable to read the newest RAW CR2 files from my camera despite being updated. Thankfully, at one of the photography meetings for The Guardian, one of my university’s school newspapers, there was an introductory workshop on how to use Lightroom. This rendered me a bit prepared and I already knew the basics of how to import and “develop” photos on the software.
Anyone who has used Lightroom before knowns that it is essentially a really fancy photo organizer. But in order to gain experience using the adjustment tools I did the bulk of the editing for a recent portrait shoot using the program (the results of which can be found below). I have to admit that at first I struggled with basic controls, like panning once I was zoomed in on the image. Google searches were fruitless, they suggested holding down the space bar to reveal a drag and drop icon shaped like a hand. But when the hand appeared I couldn’t for the life of me get it to drag or grab anything. Eventually enough fiddling around revealed that the drop down “Navigation” menu can dictate what portion of the photo is displayed upon zooming.
More amazing discovers followed. My edits began with slight color, exposure, and sharpness adjustments in the “Basic” tab. Then I would venture down to the “Histogram” section and find “Luminance”, which has become my favorite feature, under the HSL/Color/Grayscale panel. Luminance works like a polarizing filter, and is perfect for increasing contrast, like in a white overblown sky that appeared blue when the picture was being taken.
Next, I moved to using the adjustment brush to work on minor details. I quickly learned the danger of not re-opening the brush function in the top right corner of the adjustment panel in between different brush uses, essentially creating a new layer, instead of just using the brush drop down menu. For example, I had just burned in some grass in the background, when I used the menu to change the brush effect to teeth whitening. It wasn’t until I had already completed all of the facial edits that I realized I had changed the grass burning into a patch of teeth whitening effect, thus I had a huge blotch of desaturated sad-looking grass behind the main subject. In order to correct this, I had to go into the “History” tab and undo all of my edits, fix the grass, and then re-do all of the facial editing.
One of the coolest Lightroom features has to be the way you can add adjustments to pre-existing adjustment brush options. This is something I wasn’t able to do with my old editing software and comes in handy if you want to make several changes to a specific area. I found that instead of using the “Enhance Iris” option on eyes that are darker in color, the “Clarity tool”, with an added adjustment of sharpness, creates a more realistic look.
The best feature I stumbled across in the adjustment brush selection is the “Soften skin” option. I never understood how photographers were able to make people look as if they have flawless glowing skin until using this tool. By decreasing clarity, it reduces the appearance of pores and oiliness. However, I do find the spot correction tool in Lightroom inconvenient, although admittedly I might just be bad at utilizing it. So finally, after making all my Lightroom edits, I went over to my ancient software and got rid of induvial blemishes there.