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Lightroom Basics

By on Jan 15, 2017 in Photography, Tutorials | 0 comments

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With the new year already here, it is the perfect time to start improving your skills at editing photos inside of lightroom. In this basic lesson, I am going to take you through each of the modules that are important to the beginner lightroom user. Basically, this will compliment my upcoming lightroom for beginners tutorial on At any rate, what you will find here is an explanation of the steps that you need to take in order to get your photos from your memory card to your lightroom catalogue and then start editing them.

In future articles,  I will explain in more detail what each of the modules do and how to get the best out of everyone of them. However, for this article, I just want to get your photos into lightroom and get you editing them.

Importing Photos

After you have taken your masterpieces and you have lightroom up and running on your computer it is time to import your images. Typically, for beginners I don’t recommend making too many changes here. However, if you are feeling more comfortable with the program and you have a particular way you want to organize your files then by all means make the changes.

Once you plug your card into your computer of card reader the import dialogue will pop up. On the left side you will see where your images are coming from and on the right you will see where they are going. One spot that I always check is the little box on the upper left that says “eject card after import” To me this is important as lightroom will then let you know when it is done with your card and eject it for you. This could save you sometimes if you try to grab your card before if is finished importing your pics.

import screen

Along the top are a few choices on how to handle your files. I would suggest at this point to just select “copy as DNG” That will copy the files and create a “digital negative” or DNG file that lightroom uses to keep track of your edits. This will increase the upload time as lightroom will upload the images first and then convert to DNG after but I prefer this method and use the extra time to grab a coffee before I start editing.

The other thing to take note of is where your images are going. You can make a lot of changes here. However, I store all of my images on external hard drives. Thus, you should make sure that the images are going where you want them too and not in some random place. Also keep an eye on the file names. Depending on how you want to set things up, you can add in shoot names or simply the dates. I usually go for just the dates. For me it is just more organized that way.  Once you are ready, hit the import button and your are away for the races!

The Library Module

This is where you collect and organize all of your photos inside of the lightroom catalogue. Initially, I was annoyed that I had to import all of my photos into lightroom, when I was just getting started. However, now I understand how well this system works and why it is more useful to import the images rather than store them randomly in odd places around my computer.

Grid view in Lightroom

Think of this area as your base of operations. This is what you will see when you first open Lightroom and this is where you will make some critical decisions. You can choose, rate, assign colours, delete, make collections and compare images all from within this module. It is an essential part of the lightroom workflow.

The Develop Module

This is what basically makes lightroom… well… lightroom. It is the place where you will most likely spend a lot of time and it is one that you should take some time getting to know. For many of us, this is the best part of lightroom. From this module you can edit your photos, use presets, make panoramas, merge to HDR, and export to photoshop and other programs. It is also nondestructive. That means that you are not actually working on the original file, so you can really play around and see what works.

The beauty of this module is that it is really a powerhouse of features designed specifically to improve your photos. In earlier versions, you would have to jump back and forth between lightroom and photoshop. With the release of Lightroom CC and even version 5, you really don’t need photoshop unless you are really planning to do some heavy editing. It can all be done from right inside this module. If future blog posts, we are going to explore this module in depth so that you can harness the power of lightroom.

The main thing that you understand is that you can at anytime, reset your image. Thus, you don’t worry about damaging or getting to crazy with an image. You can always reset your image to it’s original form with the click of a button. The other cool thing is that you are not actually editing the image itself, so that means you will always have the original raw image incase you need to come back and re-edit your photo.

Exporting Photos

This is usually the final step in the process for most photographers. Lightroom gives you the option to publish to many different sites and many different forms. In most cases, new users should look to set up at least the facebook option. This will save you a lot of time as you can export directly from lightroom to facebook without having to worry about resizing and saving to your hard drive.

Lightroom also has a number of features to export your photos into other formats from web pages to books. We’ll explore these at a later date. However, if you don’t automatically see these options at the top-right of your Library module, simply right-click over the existing modules and you will see a list appear. Click to check the modules that you want to have onscreen and they will appear.

Now that we have a general idea of the basic premise behind lightroom, we can now dive deeper into each module. If you would like to findout when my course will be available on signup for my newsletter below and I will let you know when it is available.

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