Hi, I’m Nora and I’m a Lightroomaholic!
But really, this blog wouldn’t look half as pretty if it wasn’t for Lightroom, that’s why I decided to share my secrets in this easy lightroom tutorial with you today. They’re not even secrets, what I’m doing to my images is so easy anyone can master it! So let’s get started.
Importing Images into Lightroom
Importing images into Lightroom isn’t hard at all. When you first open the program, you’ll be seeing your library. To add new images, click „file“ and then „import photos and videos“. Now you’ll be taken to a screen where you can pick a folder from your computer. Note: You should have your pictures organized in folders because else you’ll be greeted by an overwhelming amount of images to choose from.
So, assuming you picked your folder you can now uncheck any images you don’t want imported right now. You can also uncheck all at once if you click the little tick mark in the top left corner. Once you’ve made your selection, click „import“ on the bottom right.
Switching from the Library to Editing
Now you’ve got your pictures in your Lightroom library! Let’s start with the editing process. To do so, you need to switch to „develop“ mode. This can be done easily by moving your cursor to the top of Lightroom until a bar appears. Click „develop“ – done!
Just a side note: Whenever I import a new folder of images for a post, the first thing I do is look through everything and immediately delete the files I know I won’t be using. To do so, select all images you want to delete, switch to „library“ mode and hit delete on your keyboard. Lightroom will ask you if you want to keep the files on your computer or if you want to delete them from your device as well. I mostly pick to delete from my device as well because there’s no use keeping blurry pics. But if you’re more careful than me you can just delete them from Lightroom.
The Develop Mode
So we’ve made it to develop mode – what now? Let’s take a look at our screen and what we can see there. On the left hand side you can see a thumbnail of your image and below that presets.
While we’re here: A quick lesson on presets. Presets are pretty powerful little things. You can change the entire look of your picture with just one click! There’s a handful of presets Lightroom offers like making your image black and white or looking antique etc. I don’t use those kinds of presets for my blog but they certainly can make pictures look pretty and interesting. What’s more interesting to me though is that you can make your own presets! If you make the same exact edits to your images all the time (like do the same adjustments for exposure, saturation or something similar) you can apply those to a current picture and then click the little plus on the right hand side of the “preset” tab. A window will open where you can select which edits you want to be included in your preset (I recommend unchecking the white balance because that can be so different for each photo!), give your preset a name and poof – it’s saved under “User Presets”. Now every time you want to make those exact same edits to a photo you can just click your preset and they’re all done in one click!
Below the presets you can see all the edits that have been made to the currently selected photo so far. That’s incredibly handy! If you don’t like the last three edits you have made, you can simply go back and click on the last step before you made those. And then just start over from there! Or you can go back and check what your image looks like with a bit more saturation vs a bit less stauration. It may not sound like much but I use this all the time, mostly to compare white balance settings.
The bottom bar shows all images in the current folder you’re editing and on the right hand side you’ve got all your editing needs. The sections I’m going to talk about more later are “basic”, “tone curve” and the color adjustments.
The “detail” section I’m not going to mention in depth because it’s not something I usually tinker with. It can come in very handy if you experience noise from low lighting and/or high ISO settings and you want to reduce that a bit, but it will only take you so far. You can also sharpen your image here but I usually sharpen when I export and I will be showing you how to do that further down!
How to Change the Background to White
This seems to be a really common problem. But why would you even want to change the background color to white when editing pictures? Because it makes it so much easier to check the white balance of your image! Also, my blog background is white so I see immediately what it will look like when embedded in my post.
It’s also a super simple change to make: Just right-click the background and a small window will appear where you can pick black, white or a gray variety!
Editing a Picture
Now let me walk you through the process of editing an image for my blog!
Oh Lightroom cropping tool, how I heart thee! Before I alter anything else, I always make sure I don’t need to crop or tilt my photo. And if I do, Lightroom makes it so, so easy!
To crop, all you need to do is click the cropping tool. A grid will appear over your image (and the background will turn grey – don’t worry, perfectly normal 🙂 ) and all you need to do now is drag the corners until you’re content with what your seeing. And if you need to move the image around behind your newly cropped frame, you can do that too! Just let go of the grid corner and click and hold the picture – now move. See, so super simple! The default setting is to keep the original picture ratio but if you want to crop freestyle, just click the little lock icon you can see on the right.
Tilting is also almost too simple for words. Move your cursor just below your photo until you see two little black arrows appear. Now click, hold and tilt 🙂
I always start out with my white balance because I simply can’t gauge any other edits without getting this one right first. Now the white balance droplet in Lightroom is not the most accurate thing they invented (or I haven’t been able to properly figure it out as of yet…). Usually it’s enough though and I can toggle any discrepancies myself by dragging the bar left or right to cool or warm my picture. Whenever I’m REALLY not able to tell the correct white balance I switch to Photoshop and use the level tool there because it’s usually very accurate.
By the way, if you were wondering: “Neutral” should be some sort of a gray color for Lightroom. It will be mad at you if you pick a strong white. You don’t want to make Lightroom mad.
The next edits I make is adjust for contrast and clarity. I like a bit of contrast in my pictures and usually set it to 10. Clarity is incredibly important if you shoot in RAW because your image file is just that – raw and completely unprocessed. It will sharpen and enhance your images colors and lines. I usually set my clarity to 5, but in close-ups or pictures with a lot of texture like my sample image here I set it to 15 or 20.
What you see next are four bars concerning highlights and shadows. I almost never touch them and this is a bit too advanced for this easy Lightroom tutorial, but if you want to know more then I can only suggest reading up on histograms. The most important thing you need to know is that the far left side of the histogram represents your shadows and the far right side your lights. When you make changes to exposure, shadows and lights you will see the histogram move.
Upon this I adjust my exposure. I usually don’t knock it up more than 0.2, most of the time I’ll leave it or up it to 0.1. Lastly I set my vibrance to around 10. I hardly ever increase the saturation because it quickly looks over-processed to me.
Now I just said I don’t touch the highlights and shadows – but that’s not entirely correct. I do adjust the curves most of the time, but it’s a bit of a different thing. With curves you can select how light or dark you want your shadows, darks, lights and highlights to be. It’s an amazingly powerful tool once you master it! I don’t alter them much but that’s usually well enough. It really makes your subject pop!
There’s also pre-made settings to change to medium or high contrast but I tend to find it to be a bit too much in my pictures. I mostly start off with setting the shadows to -10, darks to -5, lights to +5 and highlights to +10 and then I toggle from there.
P.S: This is a pretty amazing thing to know if you want to shoot on an all-white background and it just doesn’t look right. Try playing with the highlights and lights here and you should see a definite improvement!
Colors can be changed in the tab called “HSL / Color / B&W”. I hardly ever use the color correction tool but it comes in quite handy if you notice the reds being a bit too orange or the greens a bit too yellow. You can change individual colors here in terms of hue, saturation or luminance. I suggest to play around with this a bit because it’s not something I can give you a number for. Just for fun, try moving the sliders for one color all to the far right – totally atomic!
A Few Magical Lightroom Tools
What I just talked about above? Yes, that’s REALLY all I do to my images. It’s so simple, quick and easy but it yields amazing results! Though Lightroom does have a few magical tricks up its sleeve I want to bring your attention to. I use these sometimes if a photo calls for either one and they are so, so handy!
Oh where would I be without the Spot Removal? I’m an OCD-driven perfectionist (sadly not when it comes to making messes in the kitchen though…) and one crumb where it doesn’t belong can make me re-cook and retake a whole shoot. Enter this magical little thing here. If there’s anything in your picture you don’t want to be there, select the spot removal at the very top right, just below your histogram. You can change your brush size with the slider below and I highly recommend zooming into your picture to accurately eliminate whatever thing you’re trying to eliminate from your photo. Click it and poof – dirt/water drop/crumb be gone!
Just on a side note: This works great for small, well, spots. But you can’t really use it to edit an entire strawberry out of your photo. Not that I haven’t tried or anything…
OK, another thing I could not handle my blog pictures without! This is especially great if you’re into backlit or very dark and moody shoots but still want your subject be seen. I mean, we’re talking tasty food here and we all want to make our readers drool, right? Yeah, ain’t gonna happen without them actually seeing what you cooked. And that’s where you need the radial filter.
With the radial filter you can select a part of your image and make edits to only that selection. How cool is that?!
All you need to do is select the radial filter, again below your histogram. Make sure you check “invert mask”! Now you can pick the effects you want to add to this area – for me it’s usually either exposure or clarity (which I used in this picture for the stream of water running over the berries – because I really want to see the texture of it here!).
Just to show you how it works I drew my radial filter circle around the strawberry in the front and changed the temperature to very cold – see the blue hue all over it? That’s the power of the radial filter!
Before and After
OK, that’s not really something that does much but I love checking this before I export my photos. I can compare if there’s any edits I made that come on unnatural or too strong and also I can be amazed at Lightroom’s abilities. Oh, Lightroom.
Now the biggest of all questions: How to export or save for web in Lightroom?
Easy-peasy, just like everything else! Once you’ve made your edits and are happy with all of your photos, select all images you want to export. Just FYI: If you have both landscape and portrait oriented pictures to export – do all landscape ones first and then the portrait ones (or vice versa – just not at the same time!). You need to tell Lightroom the dimensions you want for your image and I haven’t yet found a possibility to do them at the same time.
So, in develop mode, you have selected all the images you want to export. Not click “file – export…”. This will open a window where you can adjust your settings. First of all, you want to pick the correct folder to save your photos to. In the file naming tab, select “Custom Name – Sequence”. Then you can name your files – for me this is usually “whatever-i-have-been-ccoking-up-recipe”. Pick a start number – I will usually do 1. This will name your files “whatever-i-have-been-ccoking-up-recipe-1”, “whatever-i-have-been-ccoking-up-recipe-2” etc. upon exporting. Neat, huh?!
Next I pick my image properties. Now this is something I picked up from Lindsay over at Pinch of Yum. I limit my file size to 175K and then resize my image to twice the pixels it will appear on my blog. So for a portrait oriented image for example, I will pick “Resize to Fit: Short Edge” (for landscape I would pick “Resize to Fit: Long Edge”) and set that to 1400 pixels – my blog shows 700px wide photos. The reason why I’m doing this is – because Lindsay said so. Ha, ok. It’s also because like this your images will be retina-ready! Retina displays can read twice the amount of pixels and with them up and coming it’s best to show brilliant images to everyone!
I set 72 pixels per inch as my resolution. This is plenty for a web-based food blog and will NOT give you a bad image quality. Then where it says “Output Sharpening” I select “Sharpen for: Screen” at “Standard”.
I can only advise you to remove all Metadata from your files except for the copyright (but who cares anyways, right? Sigh, #foodbloggerproblems). This will free a lot of those 175K for better image quality! And then “After Export”? Do nothing. As if there was time for that, right?! 😉
Click export, let Lightroom do its work and – DONE! 🙂
I hope you enjoyed this easy Lightroom tutorial and found it helpful! If you’d like to add anything or see a specific tutorial on Savory Nothings – leave me a comment or tweet!
P.S: My awesome blogger friends Ashley from The Recipe Rebel and Izzy from She Likes Food have noted how much they LOVE the copy/paste feature. It’s not something I personally use much (I work more with presets) but it’s definitely something worth bringing your attention to! If you check out just below all your edits in the current picture, you’ll see the little “copy” and “paste”buttons. If you want to copy the current edits on one photo and transfer them to another, just click the “copy” button and a window will pop up, asking you which edits you’d like to copy (this is kind of like a baby preset feature). Then go to your second image and paste – edits added! 🙂 Thanks Ashley and Izzy!
UPDATE #2: One thing I forgot to add – when you export your photo twice the size you need it on your blog, make sure you manually change the size later in WordPress. Once the pics are uploaded and in your post, go to text mode and change the image dimensions in the img tags. So for example, if I add a new photo to a post I’m working on I’ll switch from “visual” into “text” mode. There I will see something like this: <img class=”aligncenter size-full wp-image-3980″ src=”https://www.savorynothings.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Strawberry-Lime-Champagne-Cocktail-Recipe-1.jpg” alt=”A refreshing yet decadent drink, this Strawberry Lime Champagne Cocktail is just about the best thing to serve at your next brunch get-together! | savorynothings.com” width=”1400 height=”2100″ /> And now I will change that last part to width=”700 height=”1050″ – simple!