How To Edit Photos in Lightroom
Welcome to the final day of our Birthday Week! It has been such an awesome week and we’ve loved taking a little break from home & DIY to chat all about the blog. Today’s post topic was a reader request and we can hardly believe we haven’t blogged about this topic before…editing photos!
We’ve chatted all about taking photos here on the blog, like in this post and in this post. But somehow we’ve never discussed what happens after we take the pictures. The editing! So we’re going to break it down step-by-step so you can learn how to edit photos in Lightroom.
You certainly don’t need to be a blogger to use this program. If you just like taking photos of your family and want them to look a little brighter and crisper, then hopefully this post will help you do just that.
What is Lightroom?
When we first started blogging, we used to edit our photos using a free Google program called Picasa. It wasn’t the best and was extremely limited. We vowed that someday we would learn photoshop, but sadly never got around to that. That’s when we heard about Lightroom. It’s affordable, easy to use, and very straightforward. Right up our alley! You can purchase the software or do a subscription (which is what we do because then we always have the most up-to-date software).
How We Edit Photos in Lightroom
Notice how we said, “how we” edit photos in Lightroom. That’s because we’re going to show you guys the steps we take when we’re editing everyday photos for the blog. There are so many possibilities with this software that we don’t even use, and if you play around with it you’re bound to find other techniques that work for you. Today we’re just outlining the steps we take when editing photos, so this certainly isn’t the “right” way or the only way.
First, we (obviously) take our photos. We always try to underexpose our photos a tiny bit so we don’t lose any detail in our shots. We also shoot in RAW in order to retain detail and vibrancy in each photo. The files are much larger, so we each have our own huge hard drives to back up our photos on a regular basis.
Import Photos & Rate your Favorites
Now it’s time to import your photos into Lightroom. Go to “Library,” and select “Import”. Find the photos on your computer, and import them into Lightroom. Next, hit the “Develop” button to start editing.
We usually take A LOT of photos for each project, just so we have more than enough to choose from. This is the time when we go through and choose our favorites. We both use a rating system, where you just give each photo a number. Just hit the number “2” (or whatever number you want) for any photo that makes the cut.
Once you’ve gone through and chosen your favorites, click the “rated” button on the bottom right side. This will leave you with only the ones you’ve rated a 2. If you find that you don’t like some that are in there, weed it down even more and give any bad ones a “0”. They will automatically be removed from the rated category.
Crop & Straighten
Now we go through and crop & straighten our photos. This is the little box you see on the upper right side, all the way on the left of the tools. This is also where we’ll crop things into a square to cut them down for Instagram.
Now our favorite part, really brightening up those photos! Because we shoot things a little darker (to maintain detail), we really like to bump up that exposure. This birthday cake shot bumped up +.55, but depending on the photo we’ll go even more than that sometimes. It’s the bright & light look that we love to have for the blog.
Adjust Shadows, Saturation, Vibrancy, & Clarity
Next, we do a few small tweaks here and there. You can see in the screenshot above that we bumped up the shadows, clarity, vibrancy, and saturation. This just makes the photo pop a bit more.
Adjust the Curves & Sharpen
You see that little graph on the right side? This is one of our favorite tools. We always take the line and slightly elevate it upwards and to the left. It makes things a tad brighter and happier.
Next, we sharpen the photo. This makes the details a bit crisper. We go anywhere from 50-85 when sharpening.
Brighten One Side
We learned about this trick last year and it has been a game changer! Sometimes you take a picture and one side of the photo is brighter than the other (maybe from a window) and you want to have it evenly lit across the photo.
For example, in the birthday cake picture, the right side of the photo was a bit darker than the other side. Hit the small rectangular tool at the top right side and you’ll get a little dot that you drag across one side of the photo. You can then edit just that side of the photo. Often we’ll increase the exposure on the one side so it makes things more evenly lit, but other times we’ll adjust the saturation and shadows too. This tool is a game changer, especially when editing interior photos. We always want the entire room to look bright, which can be difficult depending on the placement of the light source (windows) in a space.
Export your Edited Photos
Once all of our photos are edited, we “select all” and “export.”
These are the settings that we use. We limit the file size to 500k so it doesn’t slow down our website and make the longest edge 1,200 so it fits the width of our site perfectly. We also name the files and put them in a folder to keep things organized.
Before & After – Edited Photos
Here’s the birthday cake shot straight out of the camera…
Here it is after we edit it in Lightroom! Pretty amazing, right? It really makes such a difference.
Check out these examples of interior spaces we’ve photographed…
It can sometimes be a very subtle improvement, but it’s time well spent for us to edit our photos in Lightroom every single time. Plus, we both really kinda enjoy editing our photos. Put on some music or a TV show, pour yourself a drink and have fun with it. A nice relaxing part of the blogging experience in our opinions!
Thanks again for an amazing week guys! We’re so happy to celebrate 5 years of blogging with all of you!
I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m married to Finn & mom to Rory and Ellis. Together we’re creating our dream home in Chicago, one DIY project at a time.