5 C’s in Photo Editing Using Adobe Lightroom 


Creating eye-catching visuals requires an organized approach that can take your editing skills from beginner to experienced. From clean-up through color grading, each step in this process contributes to a complete strategy that improves your work. By following a structured sequence, you can enhance your images in an effortless way, resulting in a refined and engaging outcome.

Clean Up & Organize

To initiate the process, it is advisable to commence by arranging the images in a systematic manner, carefully selecting the most outstanding shots, and eliminating any unnecessary repetitions or bad photographs.

Composition & Perspective

Align elements using the Rule of Thirds or other guidelines for composition. Correcting for perspective distortion improves the visual impact by faithfully representing the original lines and proportions.

Controlling the Light

Light, the magician, deserves mastery. The artist skillfully alters luminance through the use of exposure elegance, expertly shaping the mood of the canvas using graduated filters, and precisely directing the viewer’s attention with local brushes. Do not limit oneself to basic light, but rather explore the relationship between shadows and highlights, effectively creating a cinematic mood. The application of techniques such as dodge and burning can be applied to emphasize or reduce particular components within an image, enhancing the viewer’s dimension.

Clarity and Sharpness

Improve the level of visual detail with a high level of accuracy. Utilize both regional and global sharpening techniques to enhance the visibility and definition of textures. Make an effort for an appropriate balance by making necessary modifications to enhance visibility while maintaining an authentic appearance. Place emphasis on delicate elements without compromising their faithfulness to reality.

Color Balance and Grading

Using elements of color holds significant importance in influencing mood and enhancing the narrative of a story. In order to get precise color representation, it is necessary to properly adjust the white balance and tint settings. Subsequently, employ innovative techniques of color grading with the intention of generating emotional responses, so establishing a harmonious relationship between the color palette and the narrative of the image, ultimately enhancing its quality to an amount of professionalism.

Cleanup and Organize

The process of arranging photographs in Adobe Lightroom includes the efficient organization, categorization, and management of one’s photo library. Presented below is a comprehensive sequential manual aimed at guiding individuals in doing that previous task.

Step 1 – Import Images

Open Adobe Lightroom.
Click on the “Import” button or use the shortcut (Ctrl+Shift+I for Windows, Command+Shift+I for Mac).
Select the images you want to import from your computer or camera.
Choose a destination folder and add keywords, metadata, and presets if desired.
Click the “Import” button.

Step 2 – Create Folders and Collections

Folders: Use folders to organize images based on a directory structure. Right-click on “Folders” in the Library module, choose “Create Folder,” and give it a name.
Collections: Collections are virtual groups that allow you to organize images without affecting the physical folder structure. Create collections for specific themes, projects, or events.

Step 3 – Apply Keywords and Metadata

Keywords: Assign descriptive keywords to your images to make them searchable. You can add keywords during import or later in the Library module.

Metadata: Make sure your photographs contain appropriate metadata, including information about the date, location, and copyright. This process facilitates the classification and retrieving of images. Metadata refers to a comprehensive collection of data, known as metadata, which includes specific information pertaining to additional data. Metadata plays a crucial role in providing a concise overview of a collection of data, including various details such as: 

  • How the data was created —the means (Exposure, Aperture, Shutter Speed)
  • When the data was created — the time and date.
  • Why the data was created — the purpose.
  • Who created the data — the author.
  • Where the data was created — the location.
  • How big the data is — the file size.

Image metadata refers to the specific information and characteristics associated with an image file. The dataset often includes information such as the date of production, the author’s name, the file name, the textual content, the thematic elements, and more details.

Step 4 – Use Flags, Ratings, and Labels

Flags: Use flags (P for Pick, X for Reject) to mark images you want to keep or discard.
Ratings: Assign star ratings (1 to 5 stars) to indicate the quality or importance of an image.
Labels: Apply color labels to categorize images (e.g., red for urgent edits, green for final selection).

Composition and Perspective

Step1 : Crop and Straighten Tool

“Crop & Straighten” tool: On the right-hand side, find the “Crop & Straighten” tool (shortcut: R).

Aspect Ratios: Choose an aspect ratio for your crop. Common choices include 2:3, 4:5, 8:10, 1:1 (square), or custom. You can maintain the original aspect ratio or experiment with different ratios to enhance the composition.

Straighten Horizon / Angle: To straighten a crooked horizon, click on the “Angle” slider in the crop tool. Drag the slider until the horizon is level. You can also use the straightening tool on the image itself.

Crop Overlays : To cycle through different crop overlays, press the letter “O” / “Shift + O” on your keyboard while the Crop Tool is active. Here are some common crop overlays: eg. Rule of Thirds, Golden Ratio, Diagonal lines etc. This grid can help you create compositions with a sense of harmony and proportion.

Adjust Crop: Manipulate the crop box by clicking and dragging its corners to modify the frame of the image. Utilize the crop overlay guides as a tool to facilitate the maintenance of a harmonious composition.

Finalize and Apply: Once you’re satisfied with your composition, hit the “Done” button or press Enter to apply the crop. Not Satisfied “Reset”.

Step 2 : Lens Correction

Chromatic Aberration: Under the “Lens Corrections” panel, you’ll find the “Basic” tab. Check the “Remove Chromatic Aberration” box. Lightroom will attempt to automatically correct any color fringing in your image.

Lens Corrections: Scroll down on the right panel to the “Lens Corrections” section.
Check the “Enable Profile Corrections” box. Lightroom will attempt to automatically correct lens distortions.

Manual Perspective Correction: If the automatic corrections aren’t enough, you can use the manual adjustments under the “Manual” tab in the “Lens Corrections” section. Adjust the “Distortion,” “Vertical,” and “Horizontal” sliders to correct perspective issues.

Manual Adjustment (if necessary): If automatic correction isn’t enough, you can use the “Defringe” options below. Adjust the “Red/Cyan Amount” and “Blue/Yellow Amount” sliders to manually correct color fringing.

Vignetting Correction: Vignetting is a darkening or fading of the image corners and edges, often caused by the optical characteristics of a lens. If automatic correction isn’t sufficient, you can use the manual vignetting adjustment sliders below. Adjust the “Amount” slider to control the intensity of the vignette correction. The “Midpoint” slider adjusts how far inward or outward the vignette effect extends from the edges.

Step 3 : Perspective Correction – Transform

Auto or Guided Upright: The “Auto” button attempts to automatically correct perspective issues in your image. Alternatively, you can use the “Guided Upright” tool for more precise adjustments.

Auto: Automatically detects and corrects perspective issues.
Level: Adjusts horizontal lines to be level.
Vertical: Corrects vertical lines.
Full: Corrects both horizontal and vertical perspective issues.

Guided Upright

If your image has strong perspective distortion, you can use the “Guided Upright” tool. Click on the “Guided” button in the “Upright” section of the “Lens Corrections” panel. Draw two or more vertical or horizontal lines on the image to indicate the correct perspective. If you need to fine-tune the correction further, you can use the manual sliders in the Transform panel:

Vertical: Adjusts the vertical perspective.
Horizontal: Adjusts the horizontal perspective.
Rotate: Rotates the image to straighten horizons.
Aspect: Adjusts the overall aspect ratio.

Constrain Crop

Keep in mind that perspective corrections may result in empty areas at the edges of the image. Check the “Constrain Crop” box to automatically crop the image while correcting perspective.

Fine-Tune and Apply: Adjust the sliders until you’re satisfied with the correction. Click “Done” to apply the changes.

Controlling the Light

(Affected in Full Image or by Selecting Particular Part & Masking)
Suggestion – Change from color to Black & white and Do the the light balance and direction
Understanding of Histogram
The histogram is a graphical representation of the distribution of tones in an image, ranging from shadows on the left to highlights on the right. Understanding the anatomy of a histogram can help you analyze and adjust the tonal range of your photos effectively.

The Anatomy of a Histogram

X-Axis (Horizontal Axis): The X-axis represents the range of tones in the image, from darkest (shadows) on the left to brightest (highlights) on the right.

Y-Axis (Vertical Axis): The Y-axis represents the frequency or number of pixels that have a specific tonal value within the image.

Shadow Region

The leftmost part of the histogram represents the shadow region, where the darkest tones of the image are found. If the histogram is shifted too far to the left, it indicates underexposure with significant loss of shadow detail.

Midtone Region

The central part of the histogram represents the midtone region, containing average or moderate tones. The height of this part of the histogram indicates the overall tonal distribution of the image’s midtones.

Highlight Region

The rightmost part of the histogram represents the highlight region, where the brightest tones are found. If the histogram is pushed to the right, it indicates overexposure with potential loss of highlight detail.

Tonal Distribution

The shape of the histogram indicates the distribution of tones within the image. A well-distributed histogram may show a balanced spread of tones across the tonal range.

Clipping Indicators

Clipping indicators are small triangles at the top corners of the histogram. The left triangle represents shadow clipping (underexposed areas), while the right triangle represents highlight clipping (overexposed areas).

Light Balance

Step 1: Basic Light

Exposure: Adjust the overall brightness of the image. Increase it to make the image brighter or decrease it to make it darker.
Contrast: Adjust the difference between the bright and dark areas of the image. Increasing contrast can make the image pop, while decreasing it can create a softer look.
Highlights: Decrease the highlights to recover detail in overly bright areas. Increase the highlights to make bright areas even brighter.
Shadows: Lift the shadows to reveal details in darker areas. Lower the shadows to make these areas darker.
Whites: Adjust the brightest areas of the image. Increasing whites can add brightness and vibrancy, while decreasing them can create a more subdued look.
Blacks: Adjust the darkest areas of the image. Raising the black point can add depth, while lowering it can make the shadows even darker.

Step 2 : Tone Curve

Tone Curve Panel: The Tone Curve panel allows you to adjust the tonal distribution of the image by manipulating the curve. You can tweak the highlights, lights, darks, and shadows individually to balance the light.

Lightroom Classic has a “Before” and “After” view. You can press the “Y” key to toggle between these views.
Before & After Toggle – “\”
Reset full settings – Ctrl + R
Right-click (Windows) or Control-click (Mac OS) a panel header and choose Solo mode.
Full View “F”
Light Out Key “L”
Clipping Indicator “J”, Red for Over Exposure and Blue for Under Exposure

B. Light Direction

Graduated Filter Tool: Click on the “Graduated Filter” tool in the toolbar on the right side (or press the M key). This tool allows you to apply adjustments in a gradient manner. Click and drag the cursor from the area of the photo where you want to control the light to the area where you want less effect. This will create a gradient that you can adjust. In the Graduated Filter panel, you can adjust various settings like exposure, contrast, highlights, shadows, and more to control the light in the selected area. This helps you create a more directional and dramatic lighting effect.

Radial Filter Tool: You can use the “Radial Filter” tool (keyboard shortcut: Shift+M) to create a circular or oval-shaped adjustment area. This is useful for focusing light on a specific subject.

Brush Tool for Local Adjustments: If you need more precise control, use the “Brush” tool (keyboard shortcut: K) to paint adjustments onto specific areas. This is particularly useful for highlighting or darkening specific parts of the image. In the “Brush” settings, you can adjust settings like exposure, clarity, saturation, and more. Use a larger brush with lower values for softer lighting adjustments, and a smaller brush with higher values for more intense effects.

Tone Curve Adjustments: Navigate to the “Tone Curve” panel to fine-tune the overall lighting curve of the image. This can help you add more contrast and emphasize certain tonal ranges.

Selection and Masking

Part A – Spot Removal & Red Eye Correction
Part B – Subject or SKY
Part C – Brush (K), Linear Gradient (M) , Radial Gradient (Shift+M)
Part D – Color Range (Shift + J) Luminance Range (Shift + Q), Depth Range(Shift + Q)

Clarity and Sharpness

(Affected in Full Image or by Selecting Particular Part & Masking)

Step 1 – Basic Detailing

Texture: In the “Basic” panel, you’ll find the Texture slider. Increase it to enhance the finer details and textures in the image.

Clarity: Still in the “Basic” panel, adjust the Clarity slider. Increasing it adds mid-tone contrast, enhancing textures and details in your image. Use this slider subtly to avoid an overly artificial look.

Dehaze: In the “Effects” panel, you’ll find the Dehaze slider. Increase it to remove haze or fog from your image, which can help improve visibility and impact in highlights.

Step 2 – Detail Panel

Sharpening: In the “Detail” panel, you’ll find sliders to control sharpening:

Amount: Increases or decreases the overall sharpening effect.
Radius: Adjusts the size of the area that is affected by sharpening. Higher values target broader edges.
Detail: Emphasizes smaller details in the image.
Masking: Protects flatter areas from sharpening. Hold down the Alt/Option key while adjusting to see a preview of the mask.

Noise Reduction: Also in the “Detail” panel, these sliders help reduce noise in your image:

Luminance: Reduces graininess in low-light areas.
Color: Increase this slider to reduce color noise (unwanted colored speckles).

Color Balance and Grading

A. Color Balance

White Balance: At the top of the “Basic” panel, you’ll see the “White Balance” section. Use the “Temp” and “Tint” sliders to adjust the color temperature and tint of the image. Moving the Temp slider towards the left makes the image cooler (bluish), while moving it towards the right makes it warmer (yellowish).Adjust the Tint slider to correct any unwanted green or magenta color casts.

Adjusting Vibrance and Saturation: Just below the White Balance section, you’ll find sliders for “Vibrance” and “Saturation.”

Vibrance: Increasing vibrance enhances the less saturated colors without overly affecting the already saturated ones, resulting in a more balanced color palette.

Saturation: Adjusting saturation affects all colors equally. Be cautious not to over-saturate, as it can lead to unrealistic or unnatural-looking images.

HSL / Color Panel (Optional): If you want more precise control over individual colors, you can use the HSL/Color panel. Click on the “HSL/Color” tab on the right panel. Here, you can individually adjust the Hue, Saturation, and Luminance of different colors in your image.

B. Color Grading

Color grading is the process of changing an image’s color tone to convey a particular mood. Color grading is a technique for enhancing the image’s colors rather than balancing them to create the image. In Adobe Lightroom, three separate color wheels are visible. However, each color wheel has a unique purpose:
Midtones – top wheel
Shadows – left wheel
Highlights – right wheel

First, experiment with altering only the highlights and shadows wheel. It generally looks quite beautiful to add some warm colors to the highlights and then some cooler colors to the shadows in photographs. If necessary, change the color wheel’s midtones. Colors that compliment one another catch the eye of the human eye quite easily. Colors that contrast each other on the color wheel are said to be complementary. This explains why blue in the shadows and orange or yellow in the highlights go so nicely together. Think about experimenting with more complementary color combinations.

Take hold of the circular target in the color wheel’s middle to set a color. Draw it in that direction. The color becomes more saturated as you move farther away.
The colors in your image change when the target rotates the wheel. To clearly see which color you choose, a dot appears outside the wheel. To restore the tint, double-click in the center of the wheel.

The target is quick-moving and very sensitive. To slow things down, hold down the Option key (or the Alt key on a PC). Sliders can also be used to select colors. To choose the color wheel you want to use, click on an icon at the top of the panel. The Hue and Saturation sliders are revealed by clicking the triangle icon.

Holding down the Shift key will just alter the saturation. You can only modify the color (Hue) by locking onto saturation using the Command key (Ctrl on a PC).

The Luminance slider brightens or darkens the tones according to the chosen light range. For instance, adjusting the slider to the right below the Highlights wheel will make the highlights that are the brightest lighter. The brightest regions become darker as the slider is moved to the left. Midtones and shadows are unaffected by the Luminance setting below the Highlights wheel. The color’s intensity decreases with lighting.

Blending and balancing are the other two parameters that you can modify. You can alter how well the color in the highlights, midtones, or shadows blend with one another with the blending slider. The colors will blend in more naturally by moving the blending slider higher. The amount of the image that is judged to be in the highlights, shadows, or midtones can be changed with the balance slider. For instance, if I move the balance slider to the right, less of the highlights will show the adjustment. Only the highlights with the highest brightness will be affected by the change.

C. Camera Calibration

The application of a calibration tool enables the elimination of color casts from photographs while preserving the original color integrity of essential objects. The Camera Calibration tab/panel provides controls that allow for accurate adjustments and fine-tuning of color interpretation in Camera Raw for a particular image.

The calibration function in Adobe Lightroom contains a set of seven sliders. Located at the uppermost section, there is a category denoted as Shadows. In this context, it is possible to adjust the color tint of the images to enhance the green or magenta tones, according to individual preferences.

Subsequently, an additional set of six sliders can be noticed. The items mentioned above are categorized into three distinct divisions, namely Red Primary, Green Primary, and Blue Primary. In each of these categories, there is a slider denoted as “Hue” and another labeled as “Saturation.”

Metadata & Export

Step 1 – Basic Info, IPTC Copyright, IPTC Creator, Keywords
Step 2 – Export File Location, File Name, File Setting, Image Sizing, Metadata
Step 3 – Export Image
Step 4 – Watermark (Text | png LOGO)

Make a Preset and apply to another image

Software : Adobe Lightroom & Adobe Raw Filter

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