Hey folks! Today’s quick blog post is going to be a SUPER quick primer on Adobe Lightroom.
It is for complete beginners—people who just bought their first DSLR or Mirrorless camera, took a few pictures, and are scratching their heads wondering, “How come my pictures don’t look as good?”
I’m going to do this little how-to in the form of a workflow. I’ll show you the exact steps to take so that you can get up and running in Lightroom in 10 minutes flat.
On my Mac, I open Spotlight (hit ⌘+Spacebar), type Lightroom, and hit enter. It opens right up.
Shortcut time! Hit Shift+⌘+I (an I as in import) to open the Import Photos and Video window.
On the left side, you have the Source column. This is where you’ll tell LR where to find the photos you want to import. Look for your SD/CF/Whatever card and click it. LR will bring up thumbnails of all your images in the center column. By default, everything will be selected for import. This is good. It means we don’t have to do anything. Before moving on, I’d recommend selecting Copy in the top center of the window. You don’t need to worry about converting to DNG. Copy is just fine.
- On the right side is where things get fun.
- First, the File Handling box. This is where you’ll tell LR what to do with the files. Here are my settings:
- Build Previews: Minimal
- Build Smart Previews: [Checked]
- Don’t Import Suspected Duplicates: [Checked]
- Make a Second Copy To: [Unchecked]
- Add to Collection: [Unchecked]
- Next, the File Renaming box. This is where you’ll tell LR how to rename your files. I totally recommend doing this so you can better keep track of your pictures. Here are my settings:
- Rename Files: [Checked]
- Template: Custom Settings. To change this, select Edit from the dropdown. I like this format: 20190107-Shoot Name-Sequence # (0001). I like it because I know the date of import, the name of the shoot, and then the number of the shoot within the sequence. For example, here’s what a typical filename looks like: 20190107-Boston Acorn Street-0001.ARW. Don’t worry about the ARW for now. That’s just the extension of Sony’s RAW files.
- Shoot Name: Type in a name for the shoot. I stick to location or event. When I was shooting my cookbook, the Shoot Name was the name of the recipe.
- Start Number: 1
- Extensions: Leave-as-is
- Apply During Import. This is where you’ll tell LR what to do with the pictures as you’re importing them. Here are my settings.
- Develop Settings: I have a preset to add manual lens correction, and I use it here. You don’t have to do anything.
- Metadata: Copyright. You can leave this to None if you prefer.
- Keywords: I find that keywords help with organization. I include the name of the city and state where I shot the image, and whether it was “street” or “food” or whatever. You can use whatever system you like.
- Destination. This is where you’ll tell LR where to store your files.
- Into Subfolder: [Checked]. I always name this folder as well. If I have four different shoots in Boston, for instance, I’ll dump them all into a “Boston” folder, and maybe into a subfolder. Use whatever system you like here… You could have a Travel folder, and then create subfolders for every state, or region, or country, or whatever you travel to.
- Organize: Into One Folder
- Folder: Select the parent folder you want to dump these pictures into!
- Then hit the IMPORT button in the bottom right and watch as everything gets imported!
Okay, you just imported your first photos into LR. Congratulations! Next, you’ll need to edit them.
Once the Import Photos and Video window closes, you’ll be left with your library. To get you acquainted:
The top strip shows you what module you’re in. Module is just a fancy word for what MODE you’re in. If you click Library, you’ll see your library. If you click Develop, you can start editing a photo. We’ll only ever use the Library and Develop modules. At least I’ve never used the other modules and haven’t found a need to yet.
The left column is how we’ll navigate around…
You know what, let’s not worry about getting acquainted. Let’s focus on editing a picture. Okay?
Make sure you’re in the Library module by clicking Library at the top. (Or hit the L key.)
Click once on a photo to select it.
Ready for another shortcut? Hit the d key. This will switch over to the Develop module.
Don’t get overwhelmed. I know there’s a bunch of stuff. Don’t look at it. Just look at the photo and the right column.
Ready for a sweet shortcut? See the word Basic towards the top of the right column? See the word Auto below it? Hit that.
Cool, right? I mean, it’s not the most amazing thing in the whole world, but I’m always amazed at how great of a start it gives me for editing.
Why are we even taking pictures if we can’t ‘gram them! Here, I’ll show you how to export pictures so you can post them to Instagram. Or schedule them on Planoly.
- You can do this from the Library module or the Develop module. If you’re in the Library module, select the image (or multiple images) you want to export. If you’re in the Develop module, skip to step 2.
- Hit Shift+⌘+E to open the Export Files window. Here are the settings I use:
- Export To (at the top of the window): Hard Drive
- Export Location
- Export To: Choose folder later
- Put in Subfolder: [unchecked]
- Add to This Catalog: [unchecked]
- Existing Files: Choose a new name for the exported file
- File Naming
- Rename To: [unchecked]
- File Settings
- Image Format: JPEG
- Color Space: sRGB
- Quality: 100%
- Limit File Size: [unchecked]
- Image Resizing
- Resize to Fit: [unchecked]
- Output Sharpening
- Sharpen For: [checked], Screen
- Amount: Standard
- Include: All Metadata
- Remove Person Info: [checked]
- Remove Location Info: [checked]
- Write Keywords as Lightroom Hierarchy: [unchecked]
- Watermark: [unchecked]
- After Export: Do Nothing
- Hit the Export button and then select the folder where you want the file to go.
- And then upload to Planoly or Instagram!