Feature Image by: Tom Noske

4 Lightroom Photo Editing Tips

17th July 2020

Create stunning images and speed up your workflow with these Lightroom photo editing tips from Melbourne-based photographer and digital artist Tom Noske. This is what you need to know to give your photos that extra 10% of magic!

1. Create Reference Grids to Keep a Consistent Look and Feel

“Reference grids keep your portfolio looking nice and cohesive between multiple projects and make your body of work look like it's from the same artist.”

Tom Noske

Create your own reference grids and/or collections of images to open alongside your images at the editing stage. This will give you a reference to match colours and tones to and make sure every new photo you add to your portfolio is drawing from the same colour palette. For example, you can create one reference grid with green and earthy colour tones and another for blue and cooler tones, so that you can obtain a consistent overall look and feel no matter the image you are working on.

To do this, simply hit the “R | A” Reference review button in the bottom left of your screen (while in Lightroom’s Develop mode) and then drag and drop your reference image and new image so that you can view them both side by side. You can then make informed edits and ensure the colours are consistent, so that your new image will be consistent with your existing Instagram feed or portfolio.

2. Maximise Lightroom’s Gradient Tool Features to Create Realistic Light Sources

Lightroom’s Gradient tool is a fantastic way to create contrast and add, or remove light sources to your photographs. For example, to emphasise a light source – or create a new light source from scratch – you can add an oval gradient to your image. Tick the Invert box to edit the area inside the oval or leave it unticked to edit the area surrounding the oval.

Adjust your new light source by editing the setting sliders – such as Exposure, Warmth, Dehaze and Saturation – and make it look more natural by adjusting the Feather function to remove any hard edges.

You can also set your Range Mask setting to Luminance and tick the Show Luminance Mask checkbox. Then, by adjusting the Range and Smoothness slider, you can mask the gradient layer around the subject/s of your photo and create a more natural look and feel.

3. Use the Auto Mask Brush Tools to Speed Up Your Workflow

Lightroom's Brush tool can be difficult to use when trying to mask crisp and refined edges, especially if you're using a track-pad. But this Auto Mask hack makes it an absolute breeze! Simply select the Brush tool and tick the Auto Mask checkbox. This will allow you to quickly paint around the edges of your subject – whether it be a person’s face, a building or a mountain range – and the Auto Mask will automatically detect the edges for you.

Once you've made your selection you can then use the sliders to make quick adjustments. This is much faster than manually using the Brush tool to make layer masks and is guaranteed to speed up your creative workflow.

4. Use Colour Picker Sliders to Quickly Adjust Hue, Luminance and Saturation

Lightroom’s Hue, Luminance and Saturation sliders offer spectacular control over your colour palette, but it can take quite a bit of time to manually adjust each slider and work out which is affecting what.

You can speed this process up massively by hitting the little icon (the circle with one arrow pointing up and another pointing down) in your HSL panel and then clicking on the area of the photo that you want to edit. This tool will automatically figure out which colours/sliders need to be adjusted and allow you to do so simply by clicking and dragging up or down to make your edits.

Watch the full tutorial in the video above, or find more photo and video editing tips from Tom here.

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