Lightroom 5: 02 Optimizing Your Photos

with Tim Grey
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Lightroom 5: 02 Optimizing Your Photos
Video duration: 0s 2h 49m Beginner


The powerful adjustment controls in the Develop module of Lightroom 5 can help you optimize the appearance of your photos: from general contrast and tone adjustments to retouching and creative tints. Learn how to boost color, sharpen details, crop and straighten images, and add subtle effects like split toning and vignettes. Author Tim Grey also shows you how to use Lightroom and Photoshop together to apply adjustments that go beyond the capabilities of Lightroom alone.

This course was created by Tim Grey. We're honored to host this training in our library. Watch more courses in this series here.

Topics include:
  • Evaluating images
  • Adjusting white balance
  • Working with Clarity
  • Fine-tuning with the Tone Curve
  • Painting adjustments into an image
  • Applying noise reduction
  • Correcting perspective
  • Converting to black and white
  • Duplicating adjustments
  • Stitching panoramas

Evaluating images

- [Voiceover] Before I jump in to applying adjustments to my images in the Lightroom develop module, I like to take a moment to evaluate the image. Now, of course I've probably already evaluated the image at least to some extent. After all, I would typically be working in the library module reviewing my images and deciding which images I felt were my best or those most worthy of sharing with others in a variety of ways and it's those images, the ones that I feel are worthy of a little bit of extra effort that I'm likely to bring in to the develop module in Lightroom in order to optimize their appearance.

In other words, I don't tend to focus a lot of energy on finding problem images and attempting to salvage them in the develop module but rather I take some of my favorite images and work with those ones in the develop module trying to make them look their absolute best. Once I've found an image that I like and that I would like to spend a little time optimizing, I don't jump right into the optimization but rather try to take a moment to evaluate the overall image. And there are a variety of ways that I'll go about that. One is to simply take a moment to step back and look at the overall image.

Consider, is this an image worth working with? Are there particular problems I need to pay attention to? In this case for example, one of the things I'm a little bit concerned about are the various distractions. You can see that there's a branch coming across the elephant almost up to its eye and there are some other branches down at the bottom. Some of them just barely entering the frame and some of those might prove a little bit distracting. It certainly provides a sense of context for the scene but they're also an element of distraction. But there are other things that I want to take a look at as well and that generally involves taking a closer look at the photo.

As a general rule, I'll switch to the one to one zoom setting. I can do that by clicking the one to one option up on the navigator or I can simply click on the image to zoom to a one to one ratio or a one hundred percent zoom setting and then click one more time on the image to go back to that fit in view option. When I'm zoomed in at that one to one ratio, I'll also click and drag to pan around checking various areas of the photo. In most cases, I'm really paying attention first and foremost to sharpness, noise and other potential issues with the image itself.

In other words, the overall quality of the photo. Keep in mind that in addition to clicking and dragging to pan around the photo within the main image display area, I can also click in an area in the navigator in order to identify a particular portion of the image that I'd like to take a closer look at. In addition to zooming in and evaluating some of the details in the image, I also like to apply some exaggerated adjustments to get a better sense of some of the issues that might be inherent in a particular photo.

Very often for example, I'll increase contrast significantly for the image looking for areas that look problematic. Obviously, by increasing contrast so significantly, the shadows will block up and the highlights will brighten up a bit and this can actually help in terms of identifying problem areas in the photo. I look for things like bright halos along edges, perhaps chromatic aberrations and other indications of potential quality problems in the image. I also like to take a look at color problems that might develop within the image and for that, I'll utilize the vibrance and saturation adjustments and at this point, I'm not really thinking of them as adjustments per se but rather, evaluation tools.

So I'll increase the value for both vibrance and saturation all the way to their maximum values. This obviously makes the color look a little bit overdone. Well, okay, a lot overdone. In some case, extremely overdone but it also can help to identify potential color issues in the image. Things that I'll want to keep an eye on as I continue to optimize the appearance of my photo. We can see lots of areas of yellow but also hints of magenta, blue and cyan in various areas. The key thing I'm looking for here is colors where they don't belong.

Certainly, there's a lot of yellow in the tusk for example but that's somewhat to be expected. It's not exactly a surprise but I'm glad to be aware of it so that I can pay attention as I'm applying various adjustments later in my workflow. I also noticed though a little bit of magenta for example down in the bottom right corner and that color appears a little bit out of place. Now, bear in mind, that color is being extremely exaggerated at the moment but the point is that I want to be aware of these potential color issues so that as I'm applying adjustments, I know what sorts of things to keep an eye out for.

The bottom line is that I try to take a somewhat careful and measured approach to optimizing my images. Instead of jumping right in, I'll take a little bit of time to evaluate the image itself and also to keep think about what sorts of adjustments I might want to apply to that photo in order to make it look its absolute best.

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