This week’s blog covers the Development module in Adobe Lightroom.
If you haven’t heard of Lightroom, you may wish to visit my previous blog articles to get an overview of this photographic software and to learn how to import your photos and the library module of Lightroom before reading this article.
Non-destructive Photo Editing
All of the changes you make in Lightroom are non-destructive. This means that the original photo is never changed and you can use the History panel to undo your actions if you make a mistake or change your mind. The only thing you cannot undo is the file renaming – once you have renamed your files you can’t revert back to the original file name.
Creating Virtual Copies
There are occasions where you might wish to create multiple versions of the same photo – for example you may wish to create a Black and White version as well as a colour version of a photo or perhaps you might wish to apply 2 different crops to the same photo.
To create a virtual copy of your photo, simply right click on the photo and choose Create Virtual Copy.
Development module tools and panels
There are a number of panels and tools in the development module. Below you will find an overview of the elements of this module:
- Navigator Panel: This panel gives you a preview of your photo. This preview automatically updates when you mouse over a preset, showing you what the photo would look like with that preset applied. Above the preview you’ll find the zoom tools.
- Presets Panel: This panel is home to your develop presets which can be used to quickly process your photos. Lightroom comes with presets preinstalled but you can always download and install ones you find on the Internet or create your own. Presets can be used to convert your photos into Black and White, give them a vintage look, add contrast or add a vignette to your photos.
- History Panel: All the changes you have made to a photo are displayed in this panel enabling you to step back through your history, reverting back to the original photo if needed.
- Histogram Panel: This panel contains a graphical representation of the tones and luminosity within your photos. This graph isn’t just for show as you can use it to adjust the tonality and luminosity in the photo. Information regarding the photo, either the camera settings used (ISO, Aperture, Shutter Speed) or the RGB values can be found under the histogram.
- Tool Bar: The tools within this section enable you to straighten and crop your photo, remove spots, correct red eye and make tonal adjustments to regions of the photo using the Graduated and Radial Filters and the Adjustment brush.
- Adjustment Panels: This zone contains the following panels:
- Basic Adjustments: This panel enables you to adjust the white balance, luminosity, saturation and the tonality of the photo;
- Curve: You can also modify the tones using the curve (eg to add or reduce contrast);
- HSL / Color / B&W: This panel enables you to modify the colours in the photo. You can use this panel to convert your photo to Black and White.
- Split Toning: Use this panel to create special effects with coloured photos or introduce a little colour into your black and white photos eg. creating a sepia image;
- Detail: This panel will enable you to sharpen or reduce noise in your photo;
- Lens Correction: Use this panel to correct chromatic aberration and lens vignetting caused by your lens.
- Effects: Create a vignette or add grain to your photo using this panel.
- Camera Calibration: This panel enables you to make adjustments to the default camera calibration settings.
Ok that’s all for the development module overview – to find out more about how this module works take a look at this video from Adobe TV.
If you want to dive in and start working on photos, you might find it useful to watch this video that takes you through how to develop a photo using Lightroom.
Want to learn more?
Adobe TV have a large range of videos aimed at teaching you how to get the most out of Lightroom.
Before and after views
Lightroom has a function which enables you to compare your original photo with your work in progress or your finished product. This feature, the before and after view, can be accessed by clicking the button to the right of the loupe tool (indicated by the red rectangle in the image below). To return to the Loupe view, simply click on the Loupe tool (to the left of the Before/After button).
Retouching photos using Lightroom and Photoshop
If you want to retouch some of your photos using Photoshop, you have a few options.
After you have imported your photos into Lightroom to keyword and pick your favourites you might choose to open them in Photoshop to make all your changes. Alternately you might choose to make some of your changes in Lightroom and then open the photo in Photoshop to finish it.
In either case, the best way to open a photo in Photoshop is to open it as a Smart Object. You can do this by right clicking on the image, selecting Edit in then Open as Smart Object in Photoshop. This option allows you to preserve the integrity and quality of your photo by working non-destructively on the image. If you shoot in RAW and have made changes in Lightroom, most of these changes will carry across to Photoshop.
Take a look at this video to find out more about how smart objects work.
Save and close your photo once you’ve finished working on it in Photoshop. When you return to Lightroom you’ll see that the new Photoshop file has been added to your Lightroom catalogue next to the original file.
If you need to reopen the Photoshop file, simply right click Edit in then Open in Adobe Photoshop.
Creating your own Lightroom development preset
If you find yourself making the same changes to many photos in Lightroom, you might wish to create a Preset to automate your work. This is really easy to do!
Pick one photo and work on it until you’re satisfied with the end result. Create your preset by going to the Presets panel, clicking the + in the header bar.
Enter name for your preset and choose where you want to save it – you can either save the preset in an existing folder or create a new folder for your presets. Personally I keep all my presets together as I use them the most.
Select only the settings you modified and click Create.
How to apply the same settings to multiple photos without creating a Preset
You have a couple of options if you want to apply the same settings to multiple photos but don’t want to create a preset.
- Select the photos you want to be processed;
- Make sure the Auto Sync button is visible (located at the bottom of the development panels). If you see Sync… rather than Auto Sync click on the little button to the left of Sync… and you should see it change to Auto Sync.
- Make the desired changes to the photo on the screen – the other photos you have selected will automatically receive the same treatment.
If you have already made the changes to one of the photos and you want to apply that look to the remaining photos, select the photo you have modified and then select the rest. Click the Sync… button (clicking on the little button to the left of Auto Sync if Sync… isn’t visible). Select all of the settings you want to synchronise and click Synchronize.
Which method is better?
Both methods work but there are some differences in how they work. The main difference between these two methods is that
- Auto Sync displays the entire modification history in the history panel of each photo enabling you to see the changes and undo steps as required.
- Synchronising your photos using the manual sync will show you that a synchronisation has taken place but not what steps have been taken. This means you will not be able to step back through the synchronisation and will only be able to undo the entire synchronisation rather than a part of it.
Another difference is that auto sync will automatically sync all the changes you make while the photos are selected while you can choose to only sync some settings if you use the manual sync option.
Ok that’s it for this Lightroom article. I’ll cover other aspects of the software in future blog episodes…