Lightroom is one of the most powerful editing tools for photographers and, like the perfectionists we often are, editing a photo can often take ages to complete but there are a handful of tricks and tips we’ve learned over the years that have streamlined our editing process tremendously, cutting down editing time and giving us more time to go out and shoot. 

 Here are our top Lightroom Hacks that every photographer should know about and use in their daily editing. 

1.  Use Survey View to view a collection of photos next to each other

In the Library module, hold command while clicking the photos you want to select and hit “N” on your keyboard. This will bring up a display of only the photos you selected so you can see them side by side. From here, you can rate, flag or delete photos. This is extremely useful for quickly weeding out photos that are similar to each other. 

survey view in lightroom

 2. Visualize Spots

This is by far one of my most frequently used tools. When shooting landscape photography and constantly changing lenses outside, it’s nearly impossible to be 100% spot-free. There always seems to be a few sneaky little dust spots hiding out on my sensor which makes for a frustrating editing session.

A quick fix to finding your visible spots is to click on the clone tool an then click on the visualize spot box under the photo. You can adjust the intensity which will show you where your spots are in the photo so you don’t miss any unwanted dots. 

visualize spots in lightroom

 

3. Target Hue Adjustment 

To easily adjust a colour in the photo, go to the HSL panel and click the target underneath either the Hue, Saturation or Luminance headers. Click the area of the photo you want to adjust (in the photo below, we are focusing on adjusting the skin tone). Hold the click and move the mouse up and down and the relevant sliders will move automatically for you so you can quickly see what tone, saturation or luminance is right for that photo. 

target hue adjustment in lightroom

 

4. Mask Sharpening

Sometimes you want to sharpen certain parts of your image without sharpening the whole thing. There are a few ways to do this but the easiest way is to hold Option/ALT and drag the masking slider (located in the Detail box). Adjust the slider until you have isolated the part of the photo you want to adjust and the let go of the keys. Adjust the sharpening slider and radius slider as needed. 

Mask sharpening in lightroom

5. Quickly invert a graduated filter with the ALT key

Have you ever gone to apply a graduated filter and accidentally dragged the wrong way? It’s not difficult to correct but there is one quick keyboard trick that will help you invert the graduated filter. Click on the graduated filter and drag it across your photo. Click the ALT/Option key and drag the edges to invert the gradient easily. 

invert a graduated filter in lightroom

 

6. Use Lights Out Mode

There's a lot going on in the Lightroom Interface. Sure you can hide individual panels and try to make things more minimal but sometimes you just want to cut out the distractions and have a good look at your image. 

Lightroom has a "lights out" mode that isolates the image you're working on and places it against a black background so you can see the image on its own. To do this, simply press the "L" key on your keyboard while in the library module. To get a completely black background, tap the "L" key again. To go back to normal, tap the "L" key on more time. 

Lights out key in Lightroom

7. Add grid overlays for a better composition  

Getting the perfect composition in the field can be tricky but once you’re back in the editing room, Lightroom has a few tricks to help you add the finishing touches to your photo. Click the crop tool and then hit the letter “O” on your keyboard. You can keep hitting “O” to cycle through a variety of grid overlays to help you get the best composition for your photo. 

grid overlays for better composition in lightroom

 

8. Click the angle to get a perfectly straight horizon

Getting a horizon straight isn’t as straightforward as it might seem. Sure, you can click the “auto” button in the crop tool but this doesn’t always get it right and can be especially tricky when it comes to mountain skylines and other odd horizons. To get the horizon line you want, go to the crop function and select the level tool next to “angle.” From here, click and drag from one end of the horizon to the next and Lightroom will straighten your photo according to that horizon. 

angle straighten tool in lightroom

9. Adjust a radial filter’s exposure with Command/ALT

Want to quickly adjust your exposure on a radial filter? No problem. Go to the radial filter at the top of your editing settings. Hold Command/ALT and click the centre and drag left or right to get your desired effect. 

radial adjustment tool in lightroom

 

10. Sync adjustments: 

Lastly, if you are adjusting a bunch of photos that all have very similar settings and colour schemes, you can easily apply all of your edits to every photo you want. To do this, select a photo and make any edits. Then select that photo and any other photo you want (either holding command and clicking or shift/drag) to select the rest of the photos. Once you have your selection, click on Sync. You can specify exactly which edits you want to sync up with the original photo. Once you have your edits selected, click “synchronize” and wait for the edits to get copied over!

Sync adjustments in lightroom

 


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