In this article I would like to introduce to you to how I edit photos for my blog and instagram. In fact you might not know this about me, but I am a HUGE sucker for editing my photos. I love, love, love playing with colors, light, contrast and creating a better version of them.
To start with – almost all my pictures were taken with an Olympus camera – E-PL8. The model is not the newest one, but the quality of the pictures is good and the camera looks really stylish. If you are just starting and you are not that experienced in photography, this camera (or should I say the characteristics of this camera) will be enough for you. Of course, it always depends, what pictures or content you want to create. I know many people who just simply use their mobile phones, as the quality of the photos is good enough for them.
Which software am I using?
Looking back at the past year, I think I have tried almost every application there is on the market for editing photos and for finding more ways to be creative. I can safely say that in the world of editing picture and considering only changes in colors and light, my absolute favorite is Lighroom from Adobe (This is not a paid advertisement but my honest opinion).
Most of the other softwares give you also the option to change the contrast, the light, adjust the shadows, but with Lightroom, you have the a few more individual editing options. For example you can adjust the colors individually, remove small defects or objects from the pictures or even edit the photo in separate sections.
Adobe Lightroom is, as the name hints, a product of Adobe. It is part of Adobe Creative Cloud. You can find more information on the Creative Cloud (CC) under the following link. It is basically a package with programs, which can be accessed from all our your devices – laptops, desktops, mobile, etc. All data is up to date, no matter where you edit your photos.
Unfortunately, the products of Adobe are only available, if you pay for a plan. In the past, Adobe was selling the softwares individually and if you were to buy one of them, then you were tied to only one device, on which you installed it. With Creative Cloud they managed to give the people the flexibility to be creative whenever and whereever they want.
As I am using Adobe only for editing photos, I do not need to buy an expensive plan but select the one that responds to my needs. I chose “Foto-Abo”, which gives me access to Lightroom CC, Lightroom Classic, Photoshop and 20 GB Cloud storage space. You can find an overview of all the possible plan models here.
Adobe Lightroom CC vs Lightroom Classic
The difference between the Lightroom programs is simple – Lightroom Classic is a desktop program, which can be accessed only through your laptop. All your photos, which you edited with it, will be saved on your local drive. Whereas Lightroom CC is a cloud-based program, with which you can have access to your media library on all your devices. In addition to this, the changes you do in Lightroom CC on a photo will be automatically syncronized. Here is a link, which will show you the differences between the two programs in detail.
I prefer to work with the Cloud version, not only because I can access my pictures from different devices but because I can edit photos, wherever I am. In this fast-paced life, it is much more practical (for me) to spend some time during my commute to work, in editing photos. I am not only saving time but also having something interesting to do while I travel. I also like that Lightroom is streamlined and it is easier to use than the classic version.
However, if you want to use the full features of this product, you have to have the Classic version as well. For example, in order to create a preset as a file, you would need to use Classic program and not the cloud-based one. So in the end, both of the programs (in my opinion) go hand and hand.
How to edit photos with Lightroom?
Using a preset
What is a preset? A preset is something really specific to Lightroom. It combines different configuration of settings in the software, which are used to achieve a certain look and feel of the photo. It helps you create a desired style with just one click. In other applications, this is referred to as a “filter”. Furthermore, presets can be very useful and can save you a great amount of time, when editing your photos. If you want to learn how you can create your own preset, you can read “How to create your own preset in Lightroom?”.
As my pictures are quite different, it is not smart for me to use presets as I will not bring me any value. We cannot expect that a preset, which is used for example for bringing out the blue and orange tones will be helpful, if the picture does not have any blue in it. Therefore, I rarely use presets. I always try to get the best out of one picture and not try to fit it in in a preset, which will not do it any good.
Take the next two pictures for example. If I were to copy the same edit settings from the first picture to the second picture, the effect will not be the same as to, if I were to customize them.
Using the same preset
Using customized editing settings
Using no preset
Let me show you, how I edit photos without a preset. I will chose one picture and will edit it in Lightroom. Depending on the picture, I will try to change only those parts, which I think are necessary. If you were already on my profile, you would know that I like my pictures to be bright, have a strong contrast (whenever possible) and bringing out the color. In this way, I am not using a preset but still keeping the style of the pictures consistent, giving them the look and feel, as if I am always using a preset.
Start your Lightroom CC on your device. I will use Lightroom CC on my laptop. I have already uploaded the picture that I would like to edit. In order to start, please click on the button “Bearbeiten (Edit)” on the right side of the program (purple circle in the screenshot). This will give you an overview of all edit options you have.
Let’s start with the first – “Licht (Light)”. Once you have clicked this, you will get the possibility to adjust the following fields:
- Belichtung (exposure) – To edit the exposure in the picture, drag the slider to the right to lighten the picture or to the left to darken it. This will affect the overall brigtness of the photo.
- Kontrast (Contrast) – To increase the contrast in the photo, drag the slider to the right and to reduce it – to the left.
- Lichter (Highlights) – This option is used, when you want to bring out the detail in light areas, drag the slider to the right.
- Tiefen (Shadows) – With this option you can lighten or darken the dark areas.
- Weiß (Whites) – Dragging the slider to the right turns every light spot in the picture to pure white. And the other way – tunes the white down.
- Schwarz (Blacks) – When increasing this, the dark spots in the photo will turn to really black. And reducing this, the intensity of the dark areas will decrease.
For my photo, I chose to adjust all of the fields as you can see that the original photo was quite dark. I prefer to adjust the Shadows, in order to correct the light as to bringing out the Highlights. That is why both of these fields are for me on the opposite sides. The Highlights are -100 and the shadows are +100. Of course, if you adjust only those two fields the picture will not be looking as you expected. See the screenshot below. What happened basically is that all of the Highlights and Shadows in the photo were tuned out.
As I said before, I like my photos to be bright and have really saturated colors. Editing only those two fields will not be enough for getting that look and feel. I do not like to touch the Exposure too much as it does not correct single elements but the whole photo. For example, if you drag the slider to the end in the left direction, you will have a black picture with no objects in it. Therefore, I adjust it a lot only when it is necessary. For this photo it is set to +0,85.
The next field we have to adjust is the Contrast. As mentioned earlier, I like colors and with correcting the contrast, a person is able to bring out naturally the colors of the photo. Contrast is set to +43.
For some people these corrections might be also just right but I like bringing out the Whites in the photo. They do not need to be maximized since then the photo will be ruined but just as much so that you get the right tone. That is why I set up the whites to +53. In addition to this, I wanted to lighten it a little bit more. Increasing any of the previous fields would not help me much, therefore I chose to lighten it with reducing the overall black color in it. Blacks – +46.
Editing the colors of a photo can be very tricky. You do not want to over do because then it will just look posh. You would need to bring them out just the right amount. Tap the next field “Farbe (Color)” to open the color panel.
- Temperatur (Temperature) – Dragging the slider to left, increases the blue colors in the photo, creating a “cold” feel. Dragging it to the right side will create the opposite effect – “warm” feel of the photo.
- Tönung (Tint) – Changes the character (flavour) of the color. This option gives you the range between green and magenta.
- Dynamik (Vibrance) and Sättigung (Saturation) – These options are used when you want to adjust the intensity of the colors. The Vibrance slider is correcting the colors more finely then the Saturation slider, as it protects the skin colors from oversaturation.
However, this is highly dependent on the photo you have. In our example photo, we can see that it is already sunny, so it does not make sense to adjust the temperature. If I would have wanted to make it look colder, then I would have dragged the slider of the Temp to the left.
I increased the Tint to +8, giving the photo a light magenta flavour and set the Vibrance to +12 so that I get some more intensity of the colors in general. In addition to this, I increased the Saturation just slightly from 0 to +4.
In the Farbmischer (Color mix panel) you have the opportunity, as the name shows, to mix the colors. You can change the Farbton (Color tone), adjust separately the Saturation of individual colors and correct their Luminanz (Luminance).
Here I have four dominant colors – blue, green, orange and red.
- Blue – With the previous steps I made, I already achieved the level of blue that I want – so no need to correct that.
- Green – In this photo, the green is really present and the its tone is the right one for me. So the only thing I need to increase is the Saturation.
- Orange – As I have already increased the Vibrance, the orange color is pleasant and does not need any adjustment.
- Red – The red color is present only in the shoes and as part of the skin and lips. It has good saturation and it is bright enough, so there is no need to be corrected.
Lightroom gives you the option to adjust many more aspects in a photo. In my opinion the corrections that I made are enough. Making too many adjustments to a photo might result in looking fake or poorly edited. That is why, I try to edit only the parts that I consider as necessary and such that can bring out the best of the photo.
Let me know in the comments below what you think and if this article was useful for you!