Effective Lightroom Tips For Efficient Editing

Being stuck at home in isolation has brought on a lot of boredom and freed up a lot of time for many of us. With so much spare time, it creates an opportunity to learn, grow and develop new skills. I decided I would make a video sharing some Lightroom editing tips to help you make editing more efficient. These are all things I do when editing practically all of my images, and some of these tips you may not have known you could do before.

I learned a lot making this video and the amount of work that goes into something that seems so simple to do. With that being said, I wouldn’t mind making more videos in the future. So, if you have any suggestions for future videos, please let me know!


By pressing the (shortcut) “R” key, we bring up the crop tool. One way to crop your images is to use a different crop overlay. Different overlays can help you crop your images with different compositions. In order to changer the overlay, simply hit the “O” key while in the crop tool. You’ll see the overlay change and you can cycle through them by continuing to press “O” on the keyboard. For the overlays that may not be symmetrical, you can change the orientation by holding the SHIFT key and pressing “O” on the keyboard.

“R” for crop tool

Then “O” to change overlays

Shift + “O” changes overlay orientation

While in the crop tool, I like to use the lights out feature in Lightroom. The lights out feature darkens the area around the image outside the cropped area. This eliminates the distractions on the screen which allows you to better visualize how the image will look post crop. To do this, all you have to do is press “L” on the keyboard when cropping. Pressing “L” again will black out the area further and to return the screen to normal, press “L” once more.

“L” for lights out

The last cropping tool I like to use is the ruler. Having a straight horizon is absolutely one of the most important parts of making images look better. Click the ruler to the left of the straighten slider to bring up the tool. Click a point on either the right or left side of the horizon and drag the line across to the opposite side of the horizon. I like to extend the line past the edge of the image to make sure. Once you release, the image will straighten out perfectly along the horizon.

Ruler tool

Straighten the horizon

Fine Tuning Adjustments With the Tone Curve and HSL

The tone curve and HSL panels are two powerful tools when editing in Lightroom. Once you learn the basics, it can still be difficult to get the most out of them or get the results your looking for out of them. Sometimes I even find using these two tools quite difficult at times. When making changes to points on the curve, it may be difficult to move it in small increments (which also may depend on the mouse or trackpad you’re using). To make adjusting those points easier, press and hold the alt/option key on a Mac, then click the point you’d like to adjust on the curve. Doing this allows you to move the point much slower than normal making it much, much easier to dial in that tone curve exactly how you want.

Let’s say I want to adjust the curve to make changes to a certain part of the image, such as the sky. The problem is, I might not know what point on the curve the sky falls on. To get that specific point on the curve, click the little circle to the top left of the curves graph. When you highlight this circle, there should be two arrows that appear (one on top and now below the circle). Once you click this, you can click any part of the photo and drag up (to increase the value and make brighter) or drag down (to decrease the value and make darker). This makes it incredibly easy to target specific parts of the image when using the curves tool. Similar to the curves, you can do the exact same thing with the HSL panel. For each of the panels (hue, saturation, and luminance) there will be the same circle to the top left. Once you click it, you can click any colour on the photo and drag up or down to change the value. By doing this, you can target individual colours which may often surprise you what colour you are actually wanting to target. Greens often fall more into a yellow, which means if you want to change what looks green, you may actually need to be using the yellow slider on the HSL panel.

To adjust a point on the curve by clicking on a point on the photo

Making Presets For Quick Adjustments

When most people think of presets, they tend to think a preset is made to change the overall look of the photo, much like a filter. However, you can also set up presets to make quick adjustments that you’d make on the majority of edits. Let me explain.

For practically all of my photos, I apply a lens correction and sharpening. Often times, I’ll need to apply some noise reduction, or maybe I’d like to add some grain or a vignette. Rather than having to go into those panels in the develop module and edit those manually for each photo, I made presets that do each of those with one click. Using lens corrections for example, Lightroom does not have any profiles for the lenses that I use. So I manually set lens corrections for my wide angle (which adjusts the distortion and vignette) and created a preset only checking off the lens corrections. Now, given that the none of the other presets I use had lens corrections checked off when created, I can apply those presets which will add the preset adjustments, leaving the lens corrections unchanged.

The presets I have made for myself include:

- noise reduction

- grain

- vignette

- wide angle lens correction

- sharpening

-remove chromatic aberration

I’d also like to note, on some of these presets I have made slighter stronger (or less strong) presets (such as sharpening, grain & noise reduction) to apply on photos that may need more or less or it.

To conclude, I hope you found at least one thing useful out of this. These tips are all things that I learned over the years of using Lightroom and they help me every time I edit, making it much faster, easier and more efficient.

Using Format