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15 Secret Lightroom Tips Every Photographer Should Know

Master these essential tips and level up your editing game.
Lightroom has many useful features, some of which are easily found and simple to understand. However, it also has some lesser known features that can be game-changers when it comes to photo-editing. In this article we will cover 15 secret Lightroom tips and tricks that will not only help you speed up your workflow, but nail the perfect edit as well. Let’s go!

READ OR WATCH: This blog post is also available in video form! If you’d rather watch me explain this content, simply watch the video below. Otherwise you can find the text guide below. Just keep scrolling!


1. Solo Mode

Clean up your develop panel

Sometimes editing in the develop mode can get messy. Solo mode is a feature that allows us to only have one develop window open at a time, resulting in a much cleaner and more efficient editing process. To enable Solo Mode, all you need to do is right click any of the Develop Panels (e.g Basic, Tone Curve, Detail, etc.) and select “Solo Mode”. 
Keep it tidy!


2. Optimize Your Catalogue to Speed Up Lightroom

Speed it up!

If Lightroom is running slowly for you, it’s time to optimize your catalogue! You can do this by selecting File > Optimize Catalogue. This may take several minutes, but it can greatly improve performance if it’s something you haven’t done in awhile. I recommend doing this once every few months, especially if you have a large catalogue.


3. Alt/Option - The ULTIMATE Shortcut Key

An incredibly useful key in Lightroom

If you take one tip away from this blog post, make it this one! The alt (windows) and option (Mac) keys are incredibly useful with Adobe Lightroom. They can be used with almost any feature to bring up an alternative view. For example, by holding Alt/Option when adjusting exposure, you will be able to see which parts of the image are clipping (detail being lost in highlighted/shadowed areas). You can also hold Alt/Option in any of the develop panels in order to bring up the option to “reset adjustments.” This is great for resetting color or exposure adjustments. The possibilities with this shortcut are endless, and it would take an entirely new blog post to cover them all! Here are a few more of my favorites:
  1. Hold Alt/Option when adjusting the huge in the split toning panel to see what 100% saturation looks like with that color.
  2. Hold Alt/Option when sharpening to bring up masking view in order to ensure your sharpening is only effecting certain parts of the image.
  3. Hold Alt/Option when adjusting the tone curve to slow down the adjustment in order to fine-tune the adjustment.
  4. Hold/Alt option and click the circle of your localized adjustment, then slide your mouse left to right to adjust the intensity of the adjustment.
  5. When using the brush selective adjustment tool, hold Alt/Option to bring up the eraser tool.
Trust me when I say there are many more where these came from. This is an awesome hotkey!


4. Create Virtual Copies

Edit one photo in a few different styles

I always recommend editing a photo in a few different ways to see which version you like best. This is a great exercise to help you improve your editing skills, and allows you to see all the different edits next to each other. You can do this by right clicking any photo and selecting “Create Virtual Copy.” This will create a second version of your photo so you can edit it different than the first version. You can create as many variations as you like. 


5. Toggle Before/After Edit View

Clearly see the changes you’ve made

You can press the \ key to toggle between the before and after edited versions of your image, or press Y to show your edited version next to the orignal. This is allows us to easily see the edits we’ve made so far. You can also press F to see your photo in full screen mode, or L to see it surrounded by a faded white. Press L again and your photo will be shown on a completely white background. This is great to see how your colors look in accordance to true white.


6. Raw Color Profiles

Explore the different options!

Adobe Lightroom has a number of built in color profiles that you can use to quickly edit your image. Lightroom will automatically identify the camera you have, and add “Camera Matching” color profiles that can greatly change the look of your image. It also gives you several Adobe Raw options. If you’re shooting in jpeg, you won’t have as many options. You can find these profiles at the top of the basic adjustments panel in the develop module.


7. Targeted Color Adjustments

Edit specific colors.

You can easily edit colors in your image using the small target in your HSL adjustments. Simply click the target, then select an area in your image that has the colors you would like to edit. Click and hold that area and drag up or down to adjust that color. Lightroom will identify the colors in that area of the image and adjust their values based on your up/down mouse movements. You can do this individually for each HSL channel (Hue, Saturation and Luminance). This also works with luminance in black and white mode, and is a very useful feature for black and white photo editing.


8. Auto Mask and Range Mask

Make a perfect selection

When using the paint brush selective adjustment tool, it can be tough to get the exact selection you like. You can enable the “Auto Mask” feature to help you dial in your selection. This will look at color and contrast values and helps make a smart selection based on the selection you are making. 
 
Another way to ensure your selection is perfectly on point is by using the range mask feature, a feature that is incredibly useful but so often overlooked! You can use the range mask with any of the selective adjustment tools (graduated, radial, or brush). To do this, make a general selection using one of the selective adjustment tools, then select “Range Mask” at the bottom of the selective adjustment panel. From there, you can choose either color, or luminance. Next, click the small paint dropper tool to the left of the panel and click an area of your image you’d like to use as a sample. To select skin tones for example, you will select a part of your subjects skin. This will create a much more exact selection of your subject. You can fine tune this selection by adjusting the range. Make sure you press O to see your selection. 


9. Localized Hue Adjustments

Fully control your colors

Another great tool that can be used with the selective adjustment tools is the localized hue adjustment. Once you make a selection, you can change the colors in that area using the localized hue adjustment. If you partner this with the range mask tool and select a certain color, you can then shift that color using the hue adjustment. Very useful feature! 


10. Correct Skin Using Default Brush Presets

Soften skin, whiten teeth, enhance eyes, etc!

If you are shooting a model and would like to edit their skin, you don’t need to open the photo in Photoshop to do so. Simply use the built in brush presets to accomplish this. The “Soften Skin” brush preset softens the skin of your subject, and the “Teeth Whitening” preset will help whiten their teeth. You can weaken these effects by adjusting the values after you make your selection. Remember, you can use the Auto Mask and Range Mask features to ensure your selection is perfect. 


11. Alter Perspective with Transform

Stretch that perspective!

The Transform tab in the develop module is awesome for manipulating the perspective of your images. You can make mountains appear much taller by altering the vertical perspective, or just use it to correct awkward perspectives. For example, if you shoot a flatlay image but your camera was slightly tilted, the perspective will be off. This can be corrected by adjusting the horizontal and vertical perspectives to make sure the perspective is truly straight down. You can use the “constrain crop” tool to automatically crop the image based on your adjustments.


12. Synchronize Edits for Batch Editng

Bulk edit in no-time

When editing multiple photos, you can speed up your work flow by synchronizing your edits across multiple different photos. To do this, simply edit one image, then hold shift and select a group of images you’d like to copy that edit too. Next, click “Sync” at the bottom of the develop panel to bring up the Synchronize Settings panel. Select the adjustments you would like to synchronize to the other images, and hit “Synchronize”. This is a great feature for batch editing! 


13. Match Exposure Between Images

Another great bulk-editing feature

Another great feature for batch editing is the match exposure feature. If you have a collection of photos from the same event but their exposures don’t match, you can match the exposure between all these shots using this feature. The Synchronize edit feature is great, but it doesn’t take into account variations in exposure. That’s where the match exposure feature comes in. 

To use this feature, simply edit the exposure of one of your images, then select the other images you’d like to match that exposure to. Next, select Settings > Match Total Exposure. This will evaluate the exposure all of the images and adjust them according to how bright/dark they are in order to match it to your first image. This is an awesome feature, and paired with the Synchronize edit feature you can edit hundreds of images in just a few minutes!


14. Erase/Edit Graduated and Radial Filters with Brush

Fine-tune your selective adjustments

You can easily erase part of your graduated/radial filters using the brush tool. To do this, create your selection using one of these tools, then select “Brush” at the top of the panel. This will allow you to erase or expand that selection using the brush. This is a very useful feature for fine-tuning your graduated and radial filters. 


15. Update Presets with Current Settings

Clearly see the changes you’ve made

Say you purchase a few presets (or download my free orange & teal presets 😉 ) and find yourself always making the same small adjustments after you apply it to your photos. You can update that preset with your own changes using the “Update Preset with Current Settings Feature.” To do this, apply a preset to one of your images, make your adjustments, then right click the preset and select “Update Preset With Current Settings.” The next time you use that preset, it will be applied with these changes. This is a feature I use quite frequently when creating my own presets, and can be an incredibly useful tool for making sure your preset is perfect.


Bonus Tip: Use "O" Shortcut While Cropping and Masking

O is your friend

While in crop mode you can press O to toggle between various crop grids. These can be useful for ensuring you maintain a good composition when cropping your images. You can also hold alt/option when cropping to keep the crop focused on the middle of your image.


Conclusion

What/who do you want to photograph?

These are a few of the many awesome tips and tricks you can use in Adobe Lightroom Classic to speed up your editing workflow and turn you into a skilled photo editor. Do you have any secret Lightroom Tips you’d like me to add to this post? Simply add a comment below and I will be sure to incorporate them!  

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