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How to Edit Photos Manually in Lightroom CC

One of the most powerful features of Lightroom CC is how its editing tools can improve your photographs. Lightroom can bring a just-okay image into stellar territory—and right before your eyes, in a matter of seconds. There are a number of ways to edit images, but there’s perhaps nothing more instructive than good old manual editing, where you are in charge and have deliberated every single editing move.

In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to edit your photographs manually in Adobe Lightroom CC. Check out the options Lightroom CC provides, and read the steps that follow. Lightroom CC’s editing features are presented in a very streamlined way, making them easy—and quite entertaining—to discover and experiment with.

How to Edit Photos Manually in Lightroom CC

The Basics

Lightroom CC is a cloud-based app that allows you to work seamlessly across desktop, mobile, and web. Powerful but simple, it provides image editing tools that are intuitive to use and, because it’s cloud-based, allows you to retain your edits across your devices, share photos easily with others, and enjoy the peace of mind of automatic back-ups. Lightroom CC provides you with a variety of global and local editing tools, allowing you to alter the entire image or just a part of it.

Creative Cloud plans and pricing for individuals vary from $9.99/month to $19.99/month and come packaged with other perks, apps, and GBs of cloud storage. (Businesses, students & teachers, and schools & universities are offered other plans and pricing.) You can also try it out by activating a free seven-day trial.

1. Open Lightroom CC and Select an Image to Edit

First Step: Open the application and click on the image you want to edit.

2. Click the Edit icon

Access panels of editing controls by clicking on the Edit icon in the upper right. 

The editing panels that appear are global editing controls: Light, Color, Effects, Detail, Optics, and Geometry. They change the entire image.

3. Expand or Collapse Editing Panels

To open or close the editing controls within a panel, click the panel title. Panel titles are in bold and are preceded by an angle bracket. I opened Light editing controls.

4. Move the Editing Sliders

To edit your photograph, move the sliders to the left or right. The shadows were very dark in this image of a Paris skyline at sunset, so I increased the shadows to a value of +78. In this section you can also control common settings like White Balance, Exposure, Contrast, and a Point Curve.

5. Enter a Value for the Editing Sliders

Alternatively, if you want more control, click in the value field of a slider and use the up and down arrow keys on your keyboard to change the slider in small increments. To make adjustments in larger increments, hold the Shift key.

6. Experiment with Local Editing Controls

Directly below the editing icon are several local editing controls, which affect only a portion of the image: Crop & Rotate, Healing Brush, Brush, Linear Gradient, and Radial Gradient. I wanted to crop this image so that the Pompidou Center stood out even more than it does among the antiquated architecture, so I clicked on the Crop icon. I also straightened the image so the horizon line was no longer crooked.

7. Press Enter to Commit the Edits

Once you have moved the sliders or changed their values, press enter on your keyboard to commit the edits.

8. View the Original

To see how your edited photograph compares to the original version, click on the Show Original icon on the bottom.

9. Undo an Edit

To undo any of your edits, go up to Edit > Undo (Command-Z on a Mac,Control-Z on Windows) and it will undo the last edit you made.

10. Redo an Edit

To redo any of your edits, go up to Edit > Redo (Shift-Command-Z on a Mac, Shift-Control-Z on Windows) and it will redo the last edit you made.

11. Reset All Edits

To revert all the edits you’ve made so the image goes back to its original form, click on the Three Dots on the right and select Reset Edits (or Shift-R).

12. Save Your Edited Image

Save your edited photograph as a new file by creating a version of it. Click Photo > Create Version.

Then enter the filename for the version and click Create.

13. Access Versions of Your Image

To access versions of your image, click on Versions at the bottom right, which prompts a Versions panel to appear. In it, you will see all the versions of the photograph you have made.

Improve Your Photographs Using Manual Editing

Every photograph can benefit from some tweaking to bring it to (your version of) its fullest potential. Lightroom CC makes it easy for you by providing editing tools you can customize down to the last increment. Editing controls are displayed in a streamlined structure, making them intuitive to locate and use. No excuses, now; go make your photos the best they can be!

Keep Learning About Lightroom and Photography

Here are a few more free tutorials and resources to help you study up on Lightroom and photo editing:

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