Science

Nine Lightroom Tips and Tricks You Probably Didn’t Know About

All the best photo editing apps have one thing in common – there are so many features! Beyond the obvious editing tools, there are plenty of hidden keyboard shortcuts and workarounds that many of us don’t realize.

Once you’ve become familiar with the basics of editing in Adobe Lightroom, knowing which tools and shortcuts can speed up your workflow is a complete game changer. If you have a large number of astronomical photos that you are trying to modify, these tools can help you get the most out of your images and drastically reduce editing time.

If you are looking for more tips, we also have a detailed guide on how to edit photos in Lightroom. But for now, here are nine of our favorite Lightroom tips and tricks that you might not know about yet.

Tip 1: grid overlays

Our first Lightroom tip can really help when it comes to aligning your composition. You probably know the rule of thirds, but Lightroom has several different grid overlays for different types of composition.

To access these, head over to the Snipping Tool (or use the “r” shortcut on your keyboard).

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Adobe Lightroom in action

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Adobe Lightroom in action

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Adobe Lightroom in action

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Adobe Lightroom in action

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Adobe Lightroom in action

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Once you’re in the cropping tool, press O on your keyboard to cycle through the different grid overlays and choose the one that best suits your image.

You can also flip and rotate the overlays. We like to use this in the gold spiral overlay when we have used initial lines in an image. To rotate the grid, press Shift + O on your keyboard.

Tip 2: isolate your image

Adobe Lightroom in action

(Image credit: future)

When you edit your image, it can be very helpful to sit back and analyze your image without distraction. There are a couple of keyboard shortcuts for this. The L key dims the rest of the screen so you can see your image for yourself. Press L again and the background will turn completely black. You can also use F for a full screen version of your image with a dark background. This can really help you determine if there is something in your image that needs to be changed.

This also leads us to the next tip …

Tip 3: change the background color

Adobe Lightroom in action

(Image credit: future)

If you have a particularly bright or dark image, it can be helpful to change the background color in Lightroom to complement the tones in your image. It is the same concept as deciding whether to mount your printed images in a black or white frame. You can use a white background to see if your image needs brightness, or a black background to see how dark your image is. We often think that the image is too bright on a screen because it is backlit, so viewing it against actual white can help get the levels correct.

To do this, right-click on the white space around your image and choose one of the color options.

Tip 4: automatic mask

Adobe Lightroom in action

(Image credit: future)

How long have you spent cleaning the edges of your brush tool when painting on something small and specific? The auto mask tool saves so much time editing, you wish you discovered it sooner.

To use the automatic mask, select the Brush tool and scroll down to the bottom of the panel. Make sure the auto mask box is checked, and when you brush on your image there will be no “color outside the lines”. This tool works by identifying the different tones and levels of exposure in your image that you think you want to edit. However, if you are trying to brush an object that has similar shades around it, it will not always be totally accurate. In this case, we recommend zooming in so that you can use the Brush tool more precisely.

Tip 5: longer sliders

Adobe Lightroom in action

(Image credit: future)

During the editing process, it can be easy to move the sliders too drastically, especially if you’re working on a small screen. To enlarge them, grab the edge of the panel and drag it out (towards the image). Now you can use the sliders with more precision.

Tip 6: before and after

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Adobe Lightroom in action

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Adobe Lightroom in action

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If you want to see a before and after comparison of your image, there are several ways to do it. To see a side-by-side comparison, press Y on your keyboard, or click the icon in the panel below your image. You can also press the key to view the image in full size before modifications are made, and press again to return to the edited photo. This tool can be very helpful in the editing process to make sure you haven’t pushed your editing too far.

Tip 7: trim

Adobe Lightroom in action

(Image credit: future)

It can be difficult to see which parts of the image are too bright or too dark on a screen. (This is why learning to read a histogram is so important!) If you want to see where your image is cropped, press the J key on your keyboard. If your image is well exposed, nothing will happen (this is good!). However, if parts of your image are too white or too black, you will see colors appear on your screen. Red means that particular section is too white and blue means that it is too black. To correct this, simply move the black and white sliders until the colors disappear. However, it is important to use common sense with this tool, as in many astrophotographs and night images it will show clipping in the blacks, but in reality you may want a lot of black in your astronomical images.

Tip 8: Solo mode

Adobe Lightroom in action

(Image credit: future)

For a novice Lightroom user, the number of different panels can be a bit overwhelming. Solo mode can be useful if you want to avoid having to scroll up and down to find a certain panel. This means that only one edit panel will be open at a time, so when you click on a particular panel, the others that are open will automatically close. This also makes it easier to move between the different panels because you can actually see them all. To enable solo mode, right-click the edit panel on the right, then select solo mode.

Tip 9: Organize your images

Adobe Lightroom in action

(Image credit: future)

Our final tip is one of the most useful things you can do with your images, which is to know what keyboard shortcuts to use to organize and mark up your work. This can be especially useful if you have taken a lot of images and need to quickly sort them to edit only the ones you want to keep, or if you are working with clients and need to mark which images you would like. to show you.

On your keyboard, the numbers 1 through 5 will give the photo a star rating. The numbers 6, 7, 8, 9 will give a colored outline to the thumbnails. P marks an image, X rejects a photo, and U removes the flag and returns the image to the starting point.

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