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Thread: My Lightroom Editing Workflow Tutorial.

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    jiro's Avatar
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    My Lightroom Editing Workflow Tutorial.

    Hello all, welcome to my Lightroom Editing Workflow tutorial. This is how I process an image using Adobe Lightroom 3.

    1. CHECKING THE IMAGE IF LEVELED FOR CROPPING AND COMPOSITION.
    Upon opening up an image to LR, the first thing I do is to look if the horizon is leveled. This is also the time that I examine the image on how I want to crop it.

    My Lightroom Editing Workflow Tutorial.

    2. CROP THE IMAGE.
    Now that I noticed that it is leaning to the left, I grabbed the CROP OVERLAY TOOL on the tools palette and use the straighten tool. Did you notice anything?

    My Lightroom Editing Workflow Tutorial.

    Yup! That's one of the pretty neat features of LR - a composition guide overlay! If you press the letter "O" on the keyboard, you can browse through the 6 available composition guides in LR. Pretty neat, huh. Usually, I use the rule of thirds guide. OK, going back to the straighten tool, you find a reference line on the image. It does not matter if it is a vertical or a straight line. Any will do. Select the line then drag the mouse from end to end. Once you release the mouse key, the image is automatically rotated for you. If you are satisfied with the result press enter to accept the changes.

    3. LOOK AT THE HISTOGRAM.
    This is my starting point for editing. The first thing I look at is the state of the histogram after the cropping. Here are the things that I look for when I examine the histogram chart:

    3a. - Do I still have some margin on the right side of the histogram before the white areas become overblown?
    3b. How about the left side, Do I still have some extra margin on the left so I can make my black areas darker?

    Looking at my histogram on the upper right hand corner of the screen I have some good margin on both sides that would help me adjust the image later. If you also notice, the RGB components are spaced or spread out almost 90% on the histogram so that means we have a lot of color information on the image to work on.

    4. THE BASIC ADJUSTMENTS.
    This is the interface beauty of Lightroom. On the BASIC window adjustments, everything that you need to instantly correct your image is included in this window (below the histogram). You have the WB adjustment, the TONE adjustment, and the PRESENCE adjustments.

    Everything is broken down to its respective component. You can fiddle with all the sliders if you want. However, you have to understand that all these adjustment sliders are inter-related with each other. If you adjust one of them, some of the other components are affected so the possibilities on arriving at a certain solution are many. What we need to understand then is how each sliders affect the image.

    4A. WHITE BALANCE ADJUSTMENT.
    This is the first thing that I do when I adjust an image. I look for a patch on the image that I think is normally white or perfectly gray for me and I click that area using the white balance dropper. For this image I would assume my kids' T-shirt as the white area or the white patch on the whales surface as my WB reference. Let's see what would happen.

    My Lightroom Editing Workflow Tutorial.

    This is the effect when I clicked on the white patch on the whale area. It seemed to take away the yellow tint on that area and added some blue data on the image. From 5400 K, the color temperature of the image shifted to 4900 K. We were right, the image looked cooler now due to the lowered WB temperature.

    My Lightroom Editing Workflow Tutorial.

    Let's see if clicking on the boy's shirt would have a better adjustment. Hmmnn... not much. So that means, our white balance is almost OK.

    4B. TONE ADJUSTMENT.

    4B1. - Looking at the top edges of the histogram chart, you would see 2 squares with triangular marks inside them. Those are the Clipping Indicators. We need them so we could know if our blacks are too black without any detail anymore and the whites are too white that it has no detail, too. This is very important if you are printing your work. Clicking on any of the indicators will tell you if your starting image already has some issues with the highlight and shadow areas.

    When I clicked the highlight clipping indicator, you would notice that I have some issues on that small area on top of the whale statue and some on my kids' shirt and on small areas at the background. What we'll try to do is to lower down the highlights so these areas are not too bright.

    My Lightroom Editing Workflow Tutorial.

    When I clicked the shadow clipping indicator, nothing happened. That means we have some good margins on the shadow side because nothing is clipped.

    So, how do we go with all these adjustments that are available to us in LR? First, we deal with the highlight areas first since they have some issue in them, then we deal with the shadow areas after that.

    4B2. Exposure, Recovery, Fill lights, and Blacks.

    Click the highlight clipping indicator to turn it on. It will guide us if we're adjusting in the right direction or not. If the clipped areas are getting bigger when we are adjusting the sliders then we are doing it wrong. They should go smaller or if we're lucky they should go away (the size of the clipped areas).

    First, we adjust the Exposure Slider. Surely we don't want to adjust it positively since we already have some clipped areas. We adjust it to the left. It's always a good thing when you're trying to learn something to adjust the variables to the extreme.

    Here, we adjusted the Exposure slider to the farthest side to the left.

    My Lightroom Editing Workflow Tutorial.

    As you can see, the clipped areas on the shirt is almost gone but the clipped area at the forehead of the whale is still there. So, what can you conclude then? We cannot do anything more about the forehead issue (beyond the scope of the adjustment) so we would be better off leaving the exposure slider to zero.

    Next we go to the Recovery Slider. If you would look closely on the histogram chart, you would notice a slightly lighter shade of gray that is being shown. That's the area that is being affected when you adjust the Recovery Slider.

    If I adjust the slider to a value of 85 the clipped areas on the forehead are almost gone. Looks good, huh.

    My Lightroom Editing Workflow Tutorial.

    The trade-off that we've made when we adjusted the Recovery Slider is that the image looks a little bit muddy. In my opinion, I would back off a little bit to where I think it looks better.

    We cannot do anything much on the clipped area at the forehead since at Zero Exposure value it is already there. I would probably go for about 32. Why 32? I have no idea. Hahaha! Actually there is a reason for the value 32. I knew that I have clipped areas, but if I just make it smaller in a way that its size is not too noticeable then I think that's a good compromise.

    The Fill Light Slider affects the lower midtones of an image. It brightens these midtones a bit. For this shot I would probably go for a value of 10. What I'm actually doing is adjusting it based on what my eye thinks as an acceptable adjustment. This is where a calibrated monitor will be of great advantage to anyone doing any photo editing work.

    Lastly, the Blacks Slider. Looking at the histogram, the left end of the histogram chart is not touching the end of the window so I can still make the black more saturated. When I adjusted the black slider, the black clipping indicator lit up at a value of 13. This means I have to go lower than 13. I chose 12.

    4B3. BRIGHTNESS AND CONTRAST ADJUSTMENT.

    I knew that the image is already on its brightness but I like bright images so I will probably increase the brightness a little bit while at the same time watching the size of the clipped area on the whale's forehead. On a compromise I settled for a value of 59.

    My Lightroom Editing Workflow Tutorial.

    The default value of the contrast slider is 25. When I adjusted it, the black clipping indicator lit up at a value of 39 telling me that the red color is being clipped. I chose a value of 38 to avoid my red colors being clipped. Ain't the clipping indicators very handy? Hehehe.

    My Lightroom Editing Workflow Tutorial.

    5. THE PRESENCE SLIDERS

    5A. THE CLARITY SLIDER.

    I think this slider affects the texture of the midtone areas. If I move this slider all the way to the right it makes the image look like the image is treated with a semi-HDR look.

    My Lightroom Editing Workflow Tutorial.

    Now. if I move the slider to the extreme left it softens the image too much (as if I saw my kid in my dream! Hahaha!)

    My Lightroom Editing Workflow Tutorial.

    On a personal taste, I would go with a value of 50 for the clarity.

    5B. THE VIBRANCE SLIDER.

    I think the Vibrance Slider works like a saturation adjustment, in a way. It makes the colors saturated but not clipping the extremes.

    Maybe, it is affecting only the middle part of the histogram and not the shadow or highlight areas much. What I do notice though is that it is stretching the histogram data towards the left and right but not changing the position of the extreme edges of the histogram so I guess my wild guess was right. Using my eyes as my judge and my personal taste, I settled for a value of 48. The image is already looking pretty good!

    5C. I would leave the saturation value as is to Zero since my colors are already nicely saturated here.

    6. THE TONE CURVE.

    This feature was taken from Photoshop. From my experience, applying an S-curve (it looks like an S that is why we call it an S-curve) gives the image some "Pop". You can make the S-curve steep or mild. I usually go for a mild curve. This is my S-curve adjustment.

    My Lightroom Editing Workflow Tutorial.

    7. The HSL SLIDERS - To Infinity... and Beyond!

    This is the arduous part of the editing because there is no right or wrong here. It is always a matter of personal taste or preference.

    SATURATION ADJUSTMENTS

    7a. The Magenta looks too saturated so I would tone it down.
    7b. The Blue also looks a bit too saturated for me so I toned it down, too.
    7c. Aqua is between blue and green which is not very trivial to me but still I decided to tone it down, too.
    7d. Green is a good contrasting color against Red and on this image it is at the back of the Red areas so I will keep it as it is.
    7e. I don't seem to have a problem with the yellow so I will keep the saturation as it is.
    7f. The Orange Saturation affects the skin tone of my kid so I decided to desaturate it a little bit without losing that nice shine coming from the bright pavement in front of him. I did not use any reflectors here. His face was lit by the bright pavement since this one was shot in broad daylight.
    7g. The Red is already nicely saturated so I will leave it as it is.

    LUMINANCE ADJUSTMENTS

    My Lightroom Editing Workflow Tutorial.

    7h. I want the Red Color to be a bit darker so I adjusted its luminance value to -16.
    7i. Remember I told you about the main subject as being the brighter on the image? I decided to boost the Orange luminance slider to make the face of my kid a bit brighter but not too bright.
    7j. I adjusted the Yellow slider to +32 to make the foliage a bit brighter (to show a happy image).
    7k. I decided to make the Aqua and Blue slider to go -40 to make them a little bit darker.
    7l. For the Purple and Magenta sliders, I went to -38 to darken them.

    I'm almost done. The image looks pretty OK already to me. Two more sets of adjustments and I'm good to go.

    8. SHARPENING IN LR.

    For the Sharpening Adjustments, what I do is I zoom in to where I think I want to show greater detail on the sharpness than anywhere else. Usually it's a part of the main subject for me. For this image I zoomed on the face of my kid showing a part of his eyes and his skin.

    You zoom to this area by clicking on the zoom square locator at the Detail Window then you position it to where you want to zoom in.

    My Lightroom Editing Workflow Tutorial.

    The default value of the sharpness adjustment is 25 - 1.0 - 25 -0.

    8A. Sharpening Amount.

    What I'm looking for when I adjust the sharpness Amount is to get good detail on the zoomed area without making it too textured or grungy. I chose a value of +62 as my initial adjustment.

    A neat trick in Adobe Lightroom is that IF YOU PRESS THE ALT KEY WHILE ADJUSTING THE DETAIL SLIDERS, YOU WOULD SEE ITS EFFECT ON THE IMAGE ON ITS BRIGHTNESS LEVEL ALONE and not in its colored version. Sharpness only affects the brightness of the image and not any of the color values. Unfortunately I can't make a screen capture while holding the ALT KEY and adjusting the Sliders on my computer. Hahaha! Sorry, but you can try it yourself.

    8b. Sharpening Radius.

    I usually start at the default setting of 1.0 and move the slider up or down until the sharpening begins to affect the image quality negatively for me. For this image, I settled for a value of 0.7.

    8c. Detail Slider.

    For the Detail slider, I want to see some more detail on the edges of the sharpened image without introducing halo artifacts so by holding the ALT key again while adjusting the slider I can see how cranking it up affects the image. I chose to use the value +61 for the Detail.

    8d. The Masking Slider.

    The Masking Slider works like the "Find Edges" filter in photoshop. What it does is it find the edges that want to affect and it will apply the sharpening values you used on the detail sliders. The white areas are the affected ones while the black areas are the protected ones. I chose to protect a lot on my kid's face so I chose a masking value of +79.

    My Lightroom Editing Workflow Tutorial.

    The zoomed image looks pretty good to me now.

    Lastly, I enabled the Lens Profile Correction on the image. What this does is that it corrects the pincushion effect that my lens is doing and brightening up the areas on the edges that was affected by the lens vignetting.

    My Lightroom Editing Workflow Tutorial.

    Lastly, I export the file to photoshop as a 16-bit .tiff file for further enhancement if I want to (which I normally do. )

    My Lightroom Editing Workflow Tutorial.

    This is where we started:

    My Lightroom Editing Workflow Tutorial.

    And this is the after our Lightroom Adjustments:

    My Lightroom Editing Workflow Tutorial.

    And this is the after I exported it to photoshop, Edited it further, added a sharpening layer, added the border frame and signature and title.

    My Lightroom Editing Workflow Tutorial.

    THE END.

    Hope you learned something. Thanks for viewing.
    Last edited by jiro; 23rd May 2011 at 06:45 PM.

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    Re: My Lightroom Editing Workflow Tutorial.

    Thank you very much Jiro for keeping your promise with the tutorial. Yes, I learned where to start and what to look for when editing.
    I think that this tutorial should be continued, because somehow, intuitively I know that this final touch make all the difference- I can clearly see a well defined subject aka a professional looking picture. In the meantime I should install the software and start practicing for the "big jump".

  3. #3
    jiro's Avatar
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    Re: My Lightroom Editing Workflow Tutorial.

    Quote Originally Posted by dulceza View Post
    Thank you very much Jiro for keeping your promise with the tutorial. Yes, I learned where to start and what to look for when editing.
    I think that this tutorial should be continued, because somehow, intuitively I know that this final touch make all the difference- I can clearly see a well defined subject aka a professional looking picture. In the meantime I should install the software and start practicing for the "big jump".
    You're welcome, Dora. My hope is that by sharing how I edit my images, some may be encouraged to take their pictures a step further and learn how to do the edit. It would be a great delight for me if I was able to help somebody with this. Thank you.

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    Re: My Lightroom Editing Workflow Tutorial.

    Jiro, I just read this post and now I have to go and get the program. Everything you posted makes scenes. Thanks

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    jiro's Avatar
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    Re: My Lightroom Editing Workflow Tutorial.

    Quote Originally Posted by Plasmasnow View Post
    Jiro, I just read this post and now I have to go and get the program. Everything you posted makes scenes. Thanks
    Thanks, Keith. If you go to this link: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/buy/Ph...0/N/4291059589
    B&H is having a $100 OFF sale for Lightroom 3 for only $169.95 with free shipping until June 4, 2011. I think that is a good bargain.

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    Re: My Lightroom Editing Workflow Tutorial.

    Nice post, Jiro. Thanks for sharing your workflow in LR as well as PS (in the earlier thread)
    Did you apply another curves adjustment in Photoshop? or is the final image primarily a result of b/w blending, lens blur, and sharpening?

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    Re: My Lightroom Editing Workflow Tutorial.

    Thanks for sharing this Jiro !
    Good and useful PP workflow.

    Leo

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    jiro's Avatar
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    Re: My Lightroom Editing Workflow Tutorial.

    Quote Originally Posted by abhi View Post
    Nice post, Jiro. Thanks for sharing your workflow in LR as well as PS (in the earlier thread)
    Did you apply another curves adjustment in Photoshop? or is the final image primarily a result of b/w blending, lens blur, and sharpening?
    Thanks, Abhi. I did not apply any additional curves adjustment layer to this one. I just added the high contrast b&w converted layer to it via the luminosity blending mode. I added some lens blur to the image so I can further isolate my kid and shamu (the whale) from the background. Some small amount of sharpening was added and that's it. Hope this helps.

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    Re: My Lightroom Editing Workflow Tutorial.

    Quote Originally Posted by LeoLeo View Post
    Thanks for sharing this Jiro !
    Good and useful PP workflow.

    Leo
    You're welcome, Leo.

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    Re: My Lightroom Editing Workflow Tutorial.

    Quote Originally Posted by jiro View Post
    Thanks, Abhi. I did not apply any additional curves adjustment layer to this one. I just added the high contrast b&w converted layer to it via the luminosity blending mode. I added some lens blur to the image so I can further isolate my kid and shamu (the whale) from the background. Some small amount of sharpening was added and that's it. Hope this helps.
    Thanks, Jiro. So many things to learn.. composition, lighting, pp... But, I did grab a tripod this weekend

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    Re: My Lightroom Editing Workflow Tutorial.

    Thanks for this Jiro ive had a SLR for a awhile now, and just been taking pictures and never been overly happy with my photos, im now hoping with your LR and PS tutorials, i can now start enjoying my photos Thankyou

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    Re: My Lightroom Editing Workflow Tutorial.

    Quote Originally Posted by abhi View Post
    Thanks, Jiro. So many things to learn.. composition, lighting, pp... But, I did grab a tripod this weekend
    Study each aspect of photography one at a time, Abhi. Once you have grasped the principle behind each topic that's the time you progress to another subject. Well, at least that's what I applied since I started studying photography last November, 2010.

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    Re: My Lightroom Editing Workflow Tutorial.

    Quote Originally Posted by lufkin View Post
    Thanks for this Jiro ive had a SLR for a awhile now, and just been taking pictures and never been overly happy with my photos, im now hoping with your LR and PS tutorials, i can now start enjoying my photos Thankyou
    You are most welcome, Josh. Hope to see some of your future shots in our Mini-Comps and winning, Sir!

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    Re: My Lightroom Editing Workflow Tutorial.

    Thanks a lot for spending so much time and effort in doing this tutorial, Jiro. I really appreciate nice people like you who share their knowledge, experience and expertise without expecting anything in return. Well done! You are truly an asset in this forum.

    Cheers!

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    Re: My Lightroom Editing Workflow Tutorial.

    Looks like i need to invest in lightroom 3.Very good tutorial Willie.great photo too.

  16. #16
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    Re: My Lightroom Editing Workflow Tutorial.

    Quote Originally Posted by Amhornedomd View Post
    Thanks a lot for spending so much time and effort in doing this tutorial, Jiro. I really appreciate nice people like you who share their knowledge, experience and expertise without expecting anything in return. Well done! You are truly an asset in this forum.

    Cheers!
    Thank you very much for your very warm comments, Abner. Just simply paying back the good things that this forum and the CiC family has done for me.

  17. #17
    jiro's Avatar
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    Re: My Lightroom Editing Workflow Tutorial.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rasbury View Post
    Looks like i need to invest in lightroom 3.Very good tutorial Willie.great photo too.
    If you buy a good software, it's like buying a prime lens to help you get "better" pictures! I must say it's a good investment to have LR or Photoshop. Thanks.

  18. #18
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    Re: My Lightroom Editing Workflow Tutorial.

    WOW, going to get a pen and a notebook and start reading this from the beginning, thanks for posting this!!

  19. #19
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    Re: My Lightroom Editing Workflow Tutorial.

    Thanks for the workflow example, got a lot of good stuff out of it. Had a couple questions though as I'm trying to put together a workflow of my own using LR. If the image called for it, at what point would you work in removing artifacts and dodging/burning?

  20. #20
    jiro's Avatar
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    Re: My Lightroom Editing Workflow Tutorial.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nate View Post
    Thanks for the workflow example, got a lot of good stuff out of it. Had a couple questions though as I'm trying to put together a workflow of my own using LR. If the image called for it, at what point would you work in removing artifacts and dodging/burning?
    Removing artifacts is a matter of personal taste. If these artifacts attracts attention of which they should not (like very bright small spots on the background) I would rather recommend cloning them out. Dodging and burning is a persoanl taste of mine to direct the attention of the viewers to my main element. It has to be done moderately, otherwise that too will attract too much attention and instead of making your image stronger it might actually weaken it. Hope this helps, Nate.

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