Master the basics of Lightroom

4 features every newbie should know.

Adobe Lightroom

Edit, manage and share photos


Adobe Lightroom may be a go-to tool for creative professionals, but this powerful photo editor and manager is approachable enough for beginners too. Here are four ways the app helps fledgling photographers up their game.

Get organised in an instant

So you’ve snapped tens of thousands of shots. (Thanks, burst mode.) How do you keep them all organised? Lightroom pretty much automates that process.

Adobe Sensei uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to analyse every image you import, identify specific objects and scenes, and tag accordingly. Search “dog, lighthouse” to quickly find the photos you took of your puppy during your holiday by the coast.

People View uses face detection to organise your photos by specific friends and family members, so you don’t have to spend hours poring over photos.

The Auto tool works its magic on a photo and lets you see the adjustments it made. (Original image shown left, new and improved version shown right.) 

Watch and learn

Lightroom offers a slew of editing tools to fine-tune any image, but if you’re just starting out, the Auto tool is your friend. (Click Edit > Auto.) Not only will the app figure out the ideal adjustments to make to your image, it’ll show you exactly what those adjustments are. Take a look at its suggested settings for exposure, contrast and more, and experiment with each slider to see how it affects the image. Pretty soon you’ll be making your own magic.

Reveal advanced tools

Once you’re comfortable with the standard tools in the Edit panel, experiment with the more advanced options. In the Light panel, for example, click the button that looks like an S to open the Tone Curve. It’ll let you edit Shadows, Highlights and everything in between with more precision than the simple sliders offer.

Or enable the Color Mixer by heading to the Color panel and clicking the rainbow circle. This tool lets you adjust the hue, saturation and luminance of specific colours in your photo.

Both work similarly: click a target icon and select the area you want to modify, then experiment. (Skin is a great place to start.) Tone Curve adjusts only portions of the image that are similarly lit; Color Mixer adjusts only portions that are similarly coloured.

Make the most of your edits

Once you’ve tweaked a photo to perfection, there’s no need to start from scratch when you move on to the next one. Just select the adjustment panels you want to reuse, copy them, switch to a new image and paste. It’s a fast way to edit several photos from a similarly lit portrait sitting or event.

To easily apply those settings to a bunch of images, create a preset. (Click Presets > Options (...) > Create Preset.) Once you’ve saved a preset, you can apply it to other photos at any time.

    Adobe Lightroom

    Edit, manage and share photos