Mastering Lightroom Classic: Editing Tips & Techniques
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 10 min read


  1. Getting started with Lightroom Classic
  2. Organize and select photos
  3. Adjust tone and color
  4. Apply local adjustments
  5. Sharpen and reduce noise
  6. Remove spots and red eye
  7. Add effects and improve detail
  8. Correct perspective and distortion
  9. Export and share photos
  10. Tips and tricks for Lightroom Classic

If you're eager to elevate your photography game, get ready to experience classic editing with Lightroom Classic. This post will equip you with vital tips and techniques to master Adobe's seminal photo editing software, Lightroom Classic. It's time to understand the power of this tool and how you can harness it to create stunning images. Whether you're a seasoned professional or a beginner, there's always something new to learn.

Getting Started with Lightroom Classic

Before you start tinkering with your images, you need to get a solid grip on the basics of Lightroom Classic. Here are some of the key steps you need to take:

  • Download and Install: To experience classic editing with Lightroom Classic, you first need to download and install it. You can do this from Adobe's official website. Once it's installed, open the program to begin.
  • Import Your Photos: The next step is to import your photos into the Lightroom Classic library. To do this, click on the 'Import' button at the bottom left corner of the library module, locate your photos, and hit the 'Import' button. Remember, Lightroom doesn't move your photos; it simply references them from their current location.
  • Understand the Workspace: Lightroom’s workspace consists of several modules like Library, Develop, Map, Book, Slideshow, Print, and Web. Familiarize yourself with these modules to streamline your workflow. Most of your time will likely be spent in the Library and Develop modules—where you organize your photos and edit them, respectively.
  • Set Up Your Preferences: Before you dive into editing, set up your preferences. Go to Edit > Preferences (Windows) or Lightroom > Preferences (Mac). Here, you can adjust settings related to performance, file handling, and more to suit your needs and ensure a smooth editing experience.

Now that you've set up Lightroom Classic and familiarized yourself with the basics, it's time to explore its powerful editing capabilities. In the following sections, we'll delve into how to organize and select photos, adjust tone and color, apply local adjustments, and much more. By the end, you’ll be ready to experience classic editing with Lightroom Classic like a pro.

Organize and Select Photos

One of the secrets to an efficient workflow in Lightroom Classic is staying organized. Let's dive into how you can keep your photos neat and tidy, making it easier to find the exact image you're looking for.

  • Create Folders and Collections: Lightroom Classic allows you to create physical folders on your hard drive, as well as virtual collections within the program. With folders, you can segregate your photos by date, event, or any other system that suits your needs. Collections, on the other hand, allow you to group photos from different folders based on themes or projects—think of them as playlists for your photos.
  • Use Keywords: Keywords are great for sorting and locating your images. You can add keywords that describe your photos, like 'sunset', 'portrait', or 'New York'. Later, you can search these keywords to pull up all related images, regardless of which folder or collection they're in.
  • Rating and Flagging: To quickly identify your best shots, you can use the rating and flagging system. You can rate your photos from one to five stars, flag your favorites, or even reject the ones you don’t like. This way, you can easily filter and select your top photos for editing.

Once you've got your photos thoroughly organized, it's time to select the ones you want to edit. Remember, not every photo needs to be edited. Part of the art of photography—and experience classic editing with Lightroom Classic—involves knowing when a photo is already at its best.

Adjust Tone and Color

Once you've selected your photos, it's time to dive into the world of color correction. Color and tone adjustments are fundamental in giving your photos a professional finish. Lightroom Classic offers a range of tools to help you achieve this.

  • White Balance: This feature allows you to adjust the overall color temperature of your image. If your shot is too cool (blue) or too warm (yellow), the white balance slider can help you find the right balance.
  • Exposure: Is your photo too dark or too bright? The exposure slider can help you correct this. It increases or decreases the brightness of your entire image.
  • Contrast: Adding contrast makes the bright areas of your image brighter and the dark areas darker. This can add depth and dimension to your photos.
  • Highlights and Shadows: These sliders allow you to recover details in the brightest and darkest areas of your photos. For instance, if you have a photo with a bright sky and a dark ground, you can decrease the highlights to bring out details in the sky and increase the shadows to brighten the ground.
  • Color Saturation and Vibrance: Use these sliders to make the colors in your photo more vivid. Remember, a little goes a long way. Too much saturation can make your image look unnatural.

It's all about balance when it comes to color and tone adjustments. Experiment with these tools and you'll be well on your way to mastering the art of classic editing with Lightroom Classic.

Apply Local Adjustments

Once you've balanced your colors and tones, it's time to zero in on specific areas of your image. This is where local adjustments come in. These tools let you edit parts of your photo without affecting the whole image. It's like using a magnifying glass to fine-tune your editing masterpiece.

  • Adjustment Brush: This tool allows you to paint adjustments onto specific areas of your image. Want to brighten just the eyes in a portrait or darken the sky in a landscape shot? The adjustment brush is your go-to tool.
  • Graduated Filter: This is perfect for making smooth transitions between adjustments. It's often used to darken skies or lighten foregrounds in landscape photos.
  • Radial Filter: Creates a circular adjustment area. It's perfect for creating vignettes or drawing attention to a specific part of your image.

Think of local adjustments as the final touch to your editing process. They give you the freedom to be creative, and help you to experience classic editing with Lightroom Classic in a more profound way.

Sharpen and Reduce Noise

Sharpening and noise reduction are two more tools in your Lightroom Classic toolkit that can take your photos from good to great. These tools help to fine-tune the clarity of your images, making them pop.

Sharpening: This tool accentuates the edges in your photo to make objects appear more defined. It's like putting on a pair of glasses—suddenly, everything is clearer. But remember, a little goes a long way! Over-sharpening can make your image look unnatural. The key is to find a balance.

Noise Reduction: This tool is your best friend when you're working with photos taken in low light conditions. Noise reduction smooths out the grainy 'noise' that can appear in your photos, especially when you've had to crank up the ISO. However, keep in mind that excessive noise reduction can lead to a loss of detail.

While these tools can feel a bit technical, they're essential to the Lightroom Classic experience. And once you get the hang of them, they can take your editing skills to a whole new level. So, don't be afraid to play around and experiment—you might be surprised at what you can achieve with a little bit of practice.

Remove Spots and Red Eye

Now, let's switch our focus to two common issues that can spoil an otherwise great photo: unwanted spots and the dreaded red-eye effect. These issues can pop up often, but fear not—Lightroom Classic comes equipped with tools to help you banish them from your photos.

Spot Removal: This handy tool is designed to help you get rid of small distractions like dust spots or blemishes. To use it, simply select the tool, adjust the size of your brush, and then click on the spot you want to remove. Lightroom Classic will automatically select a clean area of your photo to use as a source, effectively "patching" over the spot. But remember, try to select a source that matches the texture and color of the area around the spot to get the most natural-looking result.

Red Eye Correction: Red eyes can make your subjects look more like scary movie characters than their usual selves. To correct this, Lightroom Classic offers a specific Red Eye Correction tool that's as easy to use as clicking a button. Simply select the tool and click on the red part of the eye - Lightroom Classic will do the rest.

With these tools in your arsenal, you'll be well-equipped to tackle these common photo issues and ensure your photos look their best. Remember, a big part of the Lightroom Classic experience is learning to use these tools effectively. So don’t hesitate to experiment, and have fun while you're at it!

Add Effects and Improve Detail

Alright, we've tackled organizing photos, adjusting tones, and even removing those pesky spots and red eyes. Now, let's dive into the fun part of this Lightroom Classic journey. Let's add some effects and improve the details in your photos!

Effects: Lightroom Classic provides a variety of effects that you can add to your photos. Among the most popular ones are the grain, vignette, and dehaze effects. Grain adds a film-like texture to your photos, creating a vintage feel. Vignette darkens the edges of your photos, drawing the viewer's attention to the center. Dehaze, on the other hand, is your lifesaver on foggy days—it helps clear up your images by reducing atmospheric haze.

Improving Detail: To help you bring out the finer details in your photos, Lightroom Classic offers two key sliders: clarity and texture. Sliding the clarity slider to the right will enhance the contrast in the midtones, making your image look more defined. The texture slider, when moved to the right, will enhance the finer details in your photo, making it look sharper.

Experiment with these effects and tools! Each photo is unique, and you have the creative freedom to decide on the look and feel of your images. Remember, the goal here is to experience classic editing with Lightroom Classic and make every photo an expression of your creativity.

Correct Perspective and Distortion

Ever taken a photo of a tall building only to have it look like it's leaning back in your photo? Or clicked a picture with a wide-angle lens and noticed a fish-eye effect? These are examples of perspective and distortion issues that can sneak into your photos. But don't worry, Lightroom Classic has got your back!

Perspective Correction: Lightroom Classic has a 'Transform' panel that can fix perspective issues. It has options like 'Auto', 'Level', 'Vertical', and 'Full', which automatically adjust the perspective. But if you want more control, you can manually adjust the 'Vertical', 'Horizontal', and 'Rotate' sliders to get the proper alignment.

Distortion Correction: For distortion issues, look to the 'Lens Corrections' panel. Checking the 'Enable Profile Corrections' box will automatically correct lens distortion based on the camera and lens model used. The 'Distortion' slider lets you manually control the amount of distortion correction if you need to fine-tune the effect.

With these tools in your arsenal, you can make sure that your photos not only capture the scene as you saw it but also how you remember it. This is all part of the journey to experience classic editing with Lightroom Classic, where you're not only correcting errors but also shaping your photos to tell your unique story.

Export and Share Photos

After you've perfected your photos with all the editing tools Lightroom Classic offers, it's time to share your work with the world. Not sure how to do that? Let's break it down.

Exporting Photos: Go to the 'File' menu and select 'Export'. This will open the export dialogue box. Here, you can choose where to save the image, what to name it, and the file format. JPEG is a common choice, but you might choose TIFF or DNG for higher quality. You can also adjust the size and resolution, which can be useful if you're exporting for web use, print, or specific devices.

Sharing Photos: Now that your image is ready to go, it's time to share it. Lightroom Classic makes it easy by integrating with popular platforms like Facebook and Flickr. Just go to the 'Publish Services' panel on the left side of the Library module, and you'll see options to set up sharing with these platforms. Once set up, you can simply drag and drop the photos you want to share into the appropriate publishing collection.

And just like that, you're not just creating and perfecting art, you're also sharing it with others—another important part of the experience classic editing with Lightroom Classic journey. Who knows, your photo might just inspire someone else to start their own photo editing journey!

Tips and Tricks for Lightroom Classic

By now, you've gotten a taste of what it's like to experience classic editing with Lightroom Classic. But, as with any tool, there are a few secrets that can make your journey even more productive. Here are some handy tips and tricks to keep up your sleeve:

  • Use Shortcuts: Keyboard shortcuts are your best friend in Lightroom Classic. For instance, pressing 'D' takes you directly to the Develop module, while 'G' guides you back to the Grid view in the Library. It's a time-saving trick that can speed up your workflow.
  • Take Advantage of Presets: If you find yourself making the same adjustments to your photos, presets can be a real game-changer. They allow you to apply the same settings to multiple photos with just one click. You can create your own or explore the many presets available within Lightroom Classic.
  • Sync Settings: Speaking of applying settings across multiple photos, the Sync feature is another time-saver. You can edit one photo, then sync those adjustments across other selected photos. It's perfect for a batch of photos shot under similar conditions.
  • Use the Histogram: The Histogram is a powerful tool that visualizes the tonal range of your photo. It can guide your adjustments in the Develop module and help you avoid over or underexposing your image.
  • Before and After View: It's always helpful to see how far you've come. Pressing 'Y' on your keyboard will show a before-and-after view of your photo, making it easier to evaluate your edits.

There's always more to learn when you dive into the world of photo editing, especially when you're looking to experience classic editing with Lightroom Classic. But, with these tips and tricks, you're well on your way to mastering this powerful tool.

If you're looking to further enhance your Lightroom Classic skills and explore new editing techniques, check out the workshop 'How To Photograph & Retouch Bright Colours' by Laurence Philomene. This workshop will not only help you master Lightroom Classic but also provide valuable insights on photographing and retouching bright colors to elevate your editing game.