At this point, you have the knowledge to take some decent photos with your camera. Unfortunately, the perfect shot is not always achieved. More often than not, photographers will touch up their photos using a program like Lightroom or Photoshop. Both programs are available from the company Adobe. Also, many cameras come with their own software that help edit photos. In this lesson, I am going to talk about some basic components of most photo editing programs and guide you through the process of editing a photo. Keep in mind that programs vary, but they all should have the same basic settings.
I will be using Lightroom to demonstrate.
Step 1: Open Image
Here is a photo I opened in Lightroom. Roll your mouse over the image to magnify it. You will notice, on the top right, the word “Develop” is highlighted. This means I am in developing mode. If you look straight down from the word “Develop,” you will notice a series of sliders. I will be adjusting those sliders until I achieve the look I want for this photo.
Step 2: Exposure
The first thing you may notice about this photo is that it is overexposed. A simple editing program may only allow you to control the brightness and contrast. However, if a program has exposure, I usually start with that setting. The “exposure slider” allows you to set the proper exposure (to your preference). In the photo above, you will notice that I turned the exposure down about 1.6 stops. The photo is already looking better, but we aren’t done yet.
Step 3: Highlights
Step 4: Shadows
The “shadows slider” does what it sounds like; it brightens or darkens the shadows (darkest parts) in an image. I thought the shadows were a little dark so I turned it up. It’s not a dramatic difference, but I liked how it looked. When you are editing your image, you can make it look as stylized or natural as you wish.
Step 5: Whites
By bringing the highlights down in Step 3, I removed some of the luster or brightness of the white parts in the image. I turned this slider up, as you can see in the screenshot. This brought out the clouds and the white parts of our dog’s fur a bit better.
Step 6: Blacks
Just as the “whites slider” adjusts the white parts of the image, the “blacks slider” brightens or darkens the black areas. While the “shadow slider” adjusts the darkest parts of the image (shadows), the “blacks slider” only effects actual black tones in the image. By turning this slider down, I can add some contrast back into the image without effecting my settings for both the highlights and whites.
Step 7: Clarity
You may notice that the settings above do wonders for the sky, grass, and even bring out the detail in our dog’s coat. Unfortunately, I think it brings too much detail, with Brewy in particular. It just doesn’t fit the soft mood of a dog giving her human a kiss. The “clarity slider,” when turned up, aims to add sharp details or clarity to the image. Turning this slider down can soften those details. I chose to soften the image a bit so Brewy doesn’t look so harsh.
Step 8: Vibrance