lightroom tutorial

5 Steps to Work Like a Pro in Lightroom

In this tutorial, I show you how you can set up your Lightroom to optimize and quicken your workflow. I hope you enjoy the tutorial.

1. Use Collections and Smart Collections instead of Folders

Creating a collection based catalog is the first thing I recommend to everyone who is starting to use Lightroom. It's a crucial step to keep your photographs neatly organized. Here is my organizing tutorial: How To Organize Photos in Lightroom Using Smart Collections.

Use Collections and Smart Collections

Use Collections and Smart Collections

2. The most useful Lightroom shortcuts for Photographers

If you don't want to get overwhelmed by the amount of shortcut keys in Lightroom, I have listed below my favorite shortcuts that ease my workflow a lot! You can find all of the shortcuts used in Lightroom from Adobes website: here

CTRL/CMD + SHIFT + I = Opens Import Window
F = Full-Screen View
G = Grid view in Library
E = Loupe mode in Library
I = Loop photograph information overlay
D = Develop Module

In Develop Module:
R = Crop
. / , = Cycle Basic Panel adjustments
Enter = Close and Deactivate Current Tool
M = Graduated Filter
SHIFT + M = Radial Filter
K = Adjustment Brush
O = Overlay Mask
Q = Spot Removal -tool
Y = Split, Before, and After
CTRL/CMD + E = Edit photograph in External Edit Program (Photoshop)
CTRL/CMD + SHIFT + E = Export Image

3. Adjustment Tools

You could say that the most powerful tools in Lightroom are the adjustment tools. 

Use Graduated Filter and Radial Filter to balance the photograph and add a focal point. I have explained how I use the graduated filter in my earlier tutorial: How to Use Graduated And Radial Filters.

When you need a specific area to work on, use the Adjustment Brush. 

Show the overlay of the mask with by shortcut: O. 

4. How to set up Lightroom

You can go through the Settings on Mac from Lightroom -> Preferences and on Windows go to Edit -> Preferences. 

  • Uncheck: Show Splash Screen // This disables the starting screen when opening up Lightroom
  • External Editing: TIFF, 16 bit, and ProPhoto // For the best quality editing in Photoshop, use these settings 
  • Check the Stack With Original // Helps you to keep your edits next to the original raw files 
  • File handling -> Camera Raw Cache: 50 GB // This is extremely important if your catalog is huge like mine. Use settings 20-50 GB on a hard disk that has the same amount or more space
  • General -> Catalog settings -> General -> Select Backup LR-catalog Weekly // I find it often enough to backup my catalog once a week. Remember that this doesn't backup your actual pictures, just the catalog.
  • Catalog settings -> Metadata -> Editing -> Check Automatically write changes into XMP // This helps you if your catalog doesn't work or if you need to import the photographs again. It makes sure you have the settings.

For faster Lightroom set a bigger cache size up to 50 GB should make it

5. Configure the workspace

Go to Develop Module and right-click on any of the adjustment panels and select Solo Mode. It makes your workflow quicker when you click on any of the panels Lightroom will automatically close the other panels. You can do this also for the left side panels if you don't want all of them open at the same time. 

When you are working on a laptop or small screen it's important to know that you can edit the width of the side panels when hovering with your mouse on top of the border of the side panel. You can also hide the panels with shortcut TAB. When working with a singular photo you can set the bottom view to auto hide & show when you are not scrolling the images.

Use the Solo Mode to make your workflow faster and simpler

How to Fix Light Leak in Lightroom

Occasionally when I use my Nikon D800 and Nikkor 16 - 35 mm f/4.0 VR lens, I get these light leaks in long exposure photos also when using high ISO. Here is a quick and easy way to get rid of the light leaks by using the Adjustment Brush. 


Left Top Corner Red Light Leak

Zoomed Left Top Corner Red Light Leak Zoomed

Zoomed Left Top Corner Red Light Leak Zoomed

Adjustment Brush Settings

Click on the Adjustment Brush, or shortcut K.
Effect settings:
Temp: - 21, Tint: - 12, Exposure: - 0,15 and Saturation: - 29

The brush settings: 
Size: 9.0, Feather: 45, Flow 26 with Density 100. 

I  use these settings for this image, but you may need to edit these according to your base image colors. I also use low flow brush to make smooth transition with the adjustment brush.

Select the Adjustment Brush to Fix The Light Leak

Select the Adjustment Brush to Fix The Light Leak

Brush With the Adjustment Brush With Low Flow to Make Smooth Transition

Brush With the Adjustment Brush With Low Flow to Make Smooth Transition

Final Image, corrected Light Leak. Mikko Lagerstedt - Moonlight

Hope you found this helpful. Let me know if you have any tutorials in mind you would like to see!

If you want to prevent these light leaks on happening remember to use eye cap and some kind of light blocker on your lens, for example a cut the end of your lens bag and use it around your lens.

How To Use Fine Art Lightroom Presets

Here is a short video tutorial on how to edit photos by using my Fine Art Lightroom Presets.

For these examples, I used the Star & Milky Way presets and the Split Toning Presets. 

BTW. It's my first video tutorial, so I must admit that I'm not that great in these.. But hey, you got to start somewhere.. :) Hope you enjoyed it! 

Here is a photo I did with these settings.

How To Organize Photos in Lightroom Using Smart Collections

My Lightroom Catalogue was such a mess few days ago.. And my backups weren't really up to date and after reading some horror stories on loosing your images I wanted to make this my priority number uno. It's not a sexy task, but definitely something I had to do.

The Collections and Folders were unorganized and was literally scattered all over the place. So I decided to go on and manage my photos and build up a system because I really want to backup my photos regularly, and don't want to include unnecessary photos in those backups.

I know there are lot of different ways to do organizing. I believe this works for people who are not organized or have always just imported their photos anywhere where is space left in their hard drives. Here is couple of tricks I found easy and working well for my purposes. 

1. Create a Collection Set

First thing to do is create a set where you will be having all the images from one year. Click on the small + sign in the Collections Panel and choose Collection Set. Name this what ever year you are going to create. For example I named it 2009. 

Add Year by Creating a Collection Set

Add Year by Creating a Collection Set

2. Create Smart Collection for a Year

Click on the right mouse button inside the Collection Set you just created and click Create a Smart Collection. Name it All and click on the Inside a Collection Set and choose the set you just created. Check Capture Date from the Rules Panel and check "is in the range" and provide the dates you want the images to be, for example 2009-01-01 to 2009-12-31 and click Create.

Create First Smart Collection with ruling.

Create First Smart Collection with ruling.

3. Create Smart Collection for a Month & File Type

This time use the same criteria but change the time line to 2009-01-01 to 2009-01-31. And after this lets add another rule File Type is Raw or JPG. (Which ever you prefer to shoot). This is not necessary, but I really enjoy just see the RAW files without all the other TIF files etc. 

Now when you have your first month set, go ahead and create all the rest months of the year, only changing the month dates.

Adding the month Smart Collection

Adding the month Smart Collection

4. Create Smart Collections for Other File Types

Now this is where I really had an aha moment. I have always been annoyed how many JPG copies I had all over the place so I just simply created a JPG Smart Collection by using The whole year Dates as previously in the Year part of this tutorial. I also did this part for TIF files to see how many duplicates I would have for the same photos. This is how you will be able to delete all the unnecessary duplicates. Just select the unnecessary duplicates and hit X and go to All Photographs and use CTRL (CMD) + Backspace and Delete from Disk. Of course be careful not deleting the files you don't want to.

Here is an example on adding JPG -files from the year into one Smart Collection

Here is an example on adding JPG -files from the year into one Smart Collection

5. Copy Collection Settings

So you have now created a one year Collection system. Create another Collection Set and name it "2010". Select the Smart Collections you just created for the another year and hit ALT (Option) + and drag the Smart Collections to 2010 and voila you have almost setup another year.. Now just double click on those copied Smart Collections and edit the dates to match the year you chose to create. Do this step to all the years you want to create and you are done with the Collections.

Drag the Created Collections to new Collection Set by holding down the CTRL (CMD) - key

6. Create Folder System From The Collections

After creating a Collections you can easily use them to create folders. Just click on the first Collection you want to create a folder and use shortcut CTRL (CMD) + A to select all photos inside that Smart Collection. Now go to your hard disk drive you are going to build the folders and select with your mouse right button and Create Folder. Name it for example 01, set it to Include selected Photos and now your files are being transferred to this location, no matter on where the images were before.

Adding the Folders from Smart Collections.

Adding the Folders from Smart Collections.

If you don't want to do all these steps, you can easily just apply this how you want to organize your photos. And of course you can go even further with the management by adding Collections for events, trips etc. 

Now after I have this system up, I can easily backup the whole Folder System to another Hard Drive. 

Mikko Lagerstedt - Lost

And for anyone who wanted to see some photo here is one from 2012, I ran into while going through the photos. It's supposed to get colder in the next few days so I'm just waiting for views like these! 

UPDATE: Thanks to Matt for pointing out a shortcut not working.