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The A-Z of Adobe Lightroom Classic for Photography

Adobe's Lightroom Classic is an immensely powerful tool for photographers to cull, edit, and share their photos. In this tutorial we're going to take a look through all kinds of little tips and tricks that will help you to get the most out of this photo-editing application.

A is for Adobe Lightroom Classic

Adobe Lightroom Classic is immensely powerful and made specifically to help us photographers get the most out of our images with as few barriers as possible. With its slider-based interaction, it's so simple to move quickly through an edit — and then quickly sync your edit across an entire shoot with a click of a button.

In this article you'll learn a thing (or 26) about Lightroom and some of the many things it's able to do, whether this is your first time using Lightroom or it's been a staple in your workflow for years.

B is for Add to Quick Collection

The Quick Collection is exactly as it sounds, a holding spot for your sorting needs. Maybe you could think of this as your drafts folder. When you're working through a selection of images, simply hit 'B' and that image will be added to the Quick Collection on your sidebar. Once you've finished your selection, you can easily review and move the images into the appropriate collection.

Quick Collection folder in action.

C is for Clarity

Clarity is a very powerful slider when used effectively. Crank the slider up to increase the contrast, but that actually reduces saturation at the same time — or if you find yourself wanting a softer feel to your image, don't be afraid to go into the negatives on your Clarity slider for a soft film like glow.

Clarity at -50
Clarity at 0
Clarity at +50

D is for Detail

Getting to know this small but mighty section of the Develop module is imperative to making your images pop. Sharpening can go a long way to getting the most out of your images — and the masking slider is particularly powerful, allowing you to hone in exactly where the sharpening is being applied, or even more importantly, not being applied.

E is for Exposure

With the incredibly rapid advances in our camera technology over the last decade, RAW images can be corrected in post with ease. The Exposure slider allows up to five stops of correction in either direction — either under-exposed or over-exposed, which allows for very precise and specific corrections.

F is for Full Screen

It's so important to get perspective on your edit. One of the best ways is to use the hotkey 'F' for Full Screen and have the Lightroom workspace disappear, leaving you with just your image filling the screen.

'Regular view' of Adobe Lightroom Classic
'Full Screen' view of Adobe Lightroom Classic

G is for Grain

The Grain module in Lightroom is a great way to add in some detail in pure blackness, to reduce the appearance of noise, and to achieve those popular film looks in today's Instagram world. Play around with the sliders here to see what looks appealing to you (and don't forget to zoom into 100% to really see what the grain brings to the pixels).

An example of Grain being used to fill in some dark sections of a photograph

H is for Highlights

Many photographers are concerned about not clipping their highlights in a photograph. The Highlights slider allows you to control exactly where the brightest points will be limited, or enhanced, to help you to achieve exactly the look you're after.

I is for Info Overlay

If you needed to quickly reference the filename, or any of the exposure details (ISO/aperture/shutter speed) hit the 'I' hotkey to reveal the Info Overlay panel. It'll show your information displayed overtop the image.

An example of Info Overlay turned ON.

J is for Show Clipping

If you're trying to keep your blacks from being blocked up and/or your whites from being blown, just hit 'J' in the Develop module which activates the clipping alerts. Your blacks will display as blue if they're clipping and are blocked up, and your whites will display as red if they clip at pure white.

K is for Keywording

Using keyword tags can be extremely helpful with cataloging your images, and finding them quickly and easily at a later date. Simply add 'flower' or 'sky' or 'blue' or whatever associations you might have with your image(s) and apply those keyword tags for easy retrieval. Your future you will thank you for taking this extra step.

L is for Local Adjustment Brushes

Getting to know your Local Adjustment Brushes is a real game changer. While the Develop tab edits impact your entire image, using local adjustment brushes allow you to apply edits to a specific selection only. This is amazingly powerful if you wanted to, say, increase the saturation in just the sky — or sharpen just your subjects face to add emphasis.

Use the Brush setting to paint on exactly where you want to adjust — or use the Radial Gradient or Liner Gradient for some more shapely selections.

M is for Map

This little used tab can actually be a lot of fun. If you wanted tag or sort your images from their actual GPS coordinates, or City/State/Region, use this function to tag your images, and plot them on the map!

N is for Noise Reduction

If you found yourself having to crank up your ISO in order to get enough light into your photo, you'll find yourself with a lot of noise in your image. The Noise Reduction isn't going to cause any miracles, but it's definitely going to help you to manage the amount and quality of the noise in your image.

O is for Orange

Often times subjects with fair skin have a significant amount of orange in the tonality of their skin. In the H/S/L section, using the Orange slider can effectively target just this portion of the skin tone, allowing you to control the skin with such specific detail.

Try playing with the Orange slider in the Saturation and/or Luminance panels and see how much it affects the skin.

Using the 'Orange' saturation slider to help with skin tone.

P is for Presets and Profiles

Presets and Profiles are perhaps the most effective tools for a photographer to maintain consistency in Lightroom. Whether it's for custom colour grading, or lens corrections, creating a custom preset can really help you refine your work over time. There are plenty of great tutorials on presets right here on Envato.

Q is for Spot Removal

The Spot Removal tool yields big power in Lightroom. Both the Clone and Heal options can help you elevate your image with just a few clicks.

With the Healing tool, you can sample pixels from a 'good' section, and easily correct and blend this sampled section into the 'bad' section. Use the Healing Brush if find yourself cleaning up a subject's skin, or trying to get rid of a spot on a surface.

The Clone will take your sampled area and create an exact stamp onto your new section. This is massively powerful for removing a cloud in a sky, or where a busy pattern might be in the 'problem' area you're trying to fix.

R is for Crop Overlay

If you only ever learn one hot key in Adobe Lightroom, let me recommend this to be the one. A simple press of the letter 'R' brings up your crop overlay, and allows you to play with a crop of any kind with ease. Simply hit 'R' again and you'll be popped right back into your previous location in the app.

S is for Shadows

If you've ever taken a photograph in a dark scene and need to bring life back into the darkest portions of the image, the Shadows slider is your best friend. 

Shadows at 0. Notice the collar is totally black.
Shadows at 100. Notice the collar is totally open.

T is for Transform

Didn't nail the perspective on your photograph in-camera? The Transform module easily shifts the image to correct for any vertical or horizontal shifts that may be required. Even the 'auto' setting can often be a one click solution to any perspective problems in your image.

U is for Undo

Everyone's favourite tool, right? Conveniently located on your keyboard, the hotkey is Command + Z which serves as the Edit > Undo function. Every time you say 'oops' in your editing, this is the lifeline you'll be reaching for!

V is for Vibrance

If you often photograph people, do yourself a favour and get to know the Vibrance slider. Lightroom can detect the skin tone range of your photograph, and by using the Vibrance slider instead of the Saturation slider, the skin tones will be protected against over-saturation.

W is for White Balance Selector

The White Balance Selector allows you to manually sample a colour from your image to set as a reference for the white balance. This can be used to effectively to dial in skin tones by finding an appropriate neutral tone in the image. Play around with this tool and try it on a few different colours to see how your image reacts.

X is for Export

Getting to know the Export section of the program is integral to your use of Adobe Lightroom Classic. Here, you control the location of your edits, the file naming, the file sizing, and that's really just the beginning.

Also built in to this section is the ability to watermark your images with defaults available or the ability to make your own custom option. 

Y is for Before/After Views

An extremely underrated tool is the 'Y' hotkey which brings up a split screen of the raw image and your processed image. This allows you to gain some perspective on your edit and see if you've perhaps gone too far in certain editing choices.

Viewing the Before / After of an edit.

Z is for is Zoom

The easiest way to quickly get in and out. Simply press 'Z' to Zoom in to see the detail you're wondering about or check your focus on your photograph, and then 'Z' again to Zoom back out.

A normal working view of Adobe Lightroom Classic
Click 'Z' and immediately be zoomed in to see more details
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