Basic Lightroom Tutorial Guide

Hello! Thank you for choosing me to help you learn the basics of Lightroom. In order to use this guide and participate in your one-on-one tutorial session, you must already have Lightroom downloaded onto your computer, be able to open it, shoot with a DSLR, and have some basic knowledge of your camera's settings. 

1. Starting Out

Once you have LR open on your computer, click on the "library" tab on the top right hand corner. Once you have selected "library", go to the bottom left of your screen and select "import". This is how you import your photos into LR. It will load your open screen and that is where you select which files you would like to import. If you have an SD card, you can choose to open files from that location, or you can choose to upload the files from your computer. 

So click on the location from which you would like to select your images. I am choosing to use my SD card so I click on that and it will bring up all of the photos. You can either select "all photos" on the top left right above all of your images, or you can hand select the particular images you want. I am choosing "all photos". 

Once you have selected your images, click "import" on the bottom right of the screen. You will see a loading bar on the top left of your LR screen. This shows where you are in the uploading process. 

Now, you want to go back to the top left where we selected "library" and change to the "develop" screen. 

2. Culling

Now at the bottom of the screen, you will see all of the photos that you chose to upload. Before we start editing, you will want to save some time and go through the images and decide which ones you want to keep and which ones you want to trash. This way, you aren't doing this while you edit and it will save you some time. There are several ways to do this but I will show you how I do mine. 

Alright, so now we are going to "rate" the images while deciding what stays and what goes. There is a color-rating system and a star-rating system. 

Star Rating - As you go through your images, use the following star system to cull your images. See one you love, give it a *star rating. Find an image you want to trash, give it a *****star rating. You can do this by right clicking on each image, going to set rating, and selecting the option you want. My second favorites get a **star rating, and so on. 

*           Love it!

**         Like it!

***       Eh!

****     Not my favorite!

*****   Trash!

Color Rating - As you go through your images, you can also use the color rating system. Same as above but using the colors instead of the stars. You can do this by right clicking on the images and using the color rating system, just like you would with the stars. You choose what color you want for each Love it, like it, etc.

You can also choose to to "flag" the images you want to trash. You can also do this by right clicking and selecting flag image. 

Next, you will want to get rid of the images you want to trash so that they aren't clogging up your image feed. Once you have separated your images as shown above, or using your own way, let's delete the bad ones. Let's say you flagged all the images you want to delete. Head over to your main LR menu at the top left (I'm using Mac, it may be different for PC users) select "edit" then select the "select by flag". Once you click that, it will select all flagged images. Then hit delete. 

IMPORTANT!  It will then ask you the following "delete the selected master photo from disk, or just remove it from Lightroom?"

If you select delete master photo from disk, it will permanently delete your photo from all locations. So make sure you only select "delete from Lightroom". :)

To delete from the color system or star system, simply do the same thing by going to edit, select photos by star or select photos by color, select the star rating or color rating that you wish to delete, and hit delete. 

3. Develop (editing)

Here comes the fun part! Also, the most challenging for most LR newbies. You have several options when it comes to editing. While there are many many ways to edit an image, I only go over the basics in this guide. Now, we will go from the "library" tab to the "develop" tab. (Keep in mind: when editing your images, you can manipulate RAW images more than you can with JPEG images. What I mean is this. RAW images can generally be manipulated quite a lot without losing any quality. However, the same cannot be said for JPEG images. If you shoot in JPEG, the quality in those images can start to slowly deteriorate if you are doing a lot of editing to them. Some will argue against this but choose what works for you. There isn't a one-size-fits-all way of doing things and that is the beauty of this business.)


PRESETS - You can buy presets from your favorite photographers (for those that offer them, of course). For newbies, the most popular choice is buying presets. That way most of the hard work is already done for you. Now, keep in mind that when using presets, they aren't usually a "one-click" thing. There is a lot of tweaking involved when applying a preset to your image. So you still need some knowledge in editing to make each preset fit with your image and with your taste. Although I don't go over how to import presets in this guide, when you purchase presets, they will come with instructions. If you have any questions, simply contact the seller and ask for help.

HAND EDITING -  The good thing about using presets, is that it often takes a lot of work out of the editing process. They do most of the work for you but here's the thing, you are using someone else's creative vision on your images, which makes it hard to have the images reflect YOU as an artist. I prefer hand editing all of my images so that each image, through and through, is completely my own. 

Now, here's the cool thing. You can make your own presets! That's right, anyone can make presets and I am going to tell you how shortly, so keep reading.

SLIDERS - Now I am going to go over the different sliders on the right hand side of your screen and what they do. (Since this is a basic guide, I do not go over ALL of the sliders.)







These are your white balance sliders.

White balance is the color temperature of an image just as it was captured by your camera. If you are unhappy with the way your camera shot the wb, or if you didn't select the right settings, you can change it here. Now, you only have the drop-down options if you shoot in RAW. If you shoot in JPEG, it should just have "auto". 

The temp sliders allow you to either warm up your image (by sliding right to yellow) or make your image more cool (by sliding left to blue). Same goes for the tint, if your image is too green, slide to the right. If your image is too magenta, slide to the left.

These are your basic panel sliders.

EXPOSURE - This slider allows you to change the exposure of your image. In other terms, it allows you to correct any kind of over or underexposure. If you slide this bar to the right, it will lighten your image. If you slide it to the left, it will darken your image. While this slider darkens or lightens the image, keep in mind, extremely dark shadows or blown-out highlights cannot always be saved. 

CONTRAST - This slider changes the contrast of your image. Slide this bar to the right, you will have more contrast (colors will POP). If you slide the bar to the left, it will take away contrast from the image, making it look a little duller. 

These next sliders allow you to change the light and dark aspects of your image. 

HIGHLIGHTSMove the highlights slider to the left to bring back detail in the brightest areas of an image. Move it to the right to make the highlights brighter. If you shot your image at too high of an ISO, this can help bring back some of the blown out highlights.

SHADOWS - By moving this slider to the left, you can darken the shadows in your image. By moving the slider to the right, you can lighten the shadows. 

WHITES - This slider changes the white- tone brightness in your image but it is different than your exposure slider. By sliding it to the left, you can create a duller white-tone and bring back some of the blown out whites. By sliding it to the right, you can create a brighter white point. 

BLACKS -This slider can help you fill in those darker parts of an image by sliding it to the left. If you want to lighten those dark or black areas, slide it to the right. 

Next you have your presence sliders. 

CLARITY - By increasing the clarity slider (sliding it to the right) you are increasing the detail in the image making it more defined. By sliding it to the left, it takes away detail, leaving your image less defined.

VIBRANCE - By sliding the vibrance to the right,  you can make the colors in your image more saturated. By sliding this to the left, you can make the colors much less intense. If you slide it too far to the left, most of the color in the image will disappear. 

SATURATION - This slider makes the colors in your image POP. Be careful though. If used incorrectly, or if you slide it to the right too far, you will over saturate your image leaving it with too bright of a color while loosing detail in your image. 

The best way to really learn what these sliders do and how they affect your images, is by uploading an image and trying them all out. Only then, do you really get a better understanding of how each one works and how they all work together to give you an amazing edit. 

4. Making Your Own Presets

Now, I told you that I was going to teach you how to make your very own presets. So here we go. 


Once you have learned how to use the sliders and you can make your very own preset. Once you upload your image and are back in the develop screen, do a series of actions and adjustments with the sliders. Then, when you have decided you like the look of it and would like to apply it to other images, you can save it! That's right! 


Once you are finished with your actions and adjustments, take a look at the left of your screen. You will see a "navigator" box with a mini copy of your image. Underneath that image, you will find a few drop-down menus. Click on the "preset" drop-down menu. From there, click on the "+" on the right side of the menu. Now, this is where you save your preset. I suggest that you create some folders based on the type of preset you are saving or based on the type of images you wish to use it on. This will help save time in the future. 


Now that you have clicked the "+", a menu will appear. Your first two options are to name your preset and decide which folder you would like to save it in. Everyone names their presets differently. I can't tell you how many names I have for the hundreds of presets that I have created. Some look like this: "sunnymountainfamily" "sunnymountainfamily ll" "sunnymountainfamilyfinal" etc. Just do whatever works for you. The more you name it after the specific session you used it for, the easier it is to remember and find later. 


Next you want to select the folder. You can select a pre-existing folder or you can scroll up and create your own by selecting "new folder". 


Once you have done those two things, you will see a lot of check boxes. This all comes down to personal preference. You can either leave them all checked, or you can just check the sections that you specifically changed by hand with the sliders. 

Now, anytime you apply that preset, whatever you selected in the check boxes will be applied to your image.


Let's say that instead of changing the entire image, you want to create an action that only changes one or two things. For instance, let's say you want to create a warming action. Upload an image and head over to the "develop" tab. Make sure you haven't done any changes to that image yet. Or, if you have, clear it all by hitting the "reset" button at the bottom right of your screen. Then, head over to the white balance module and set your "temp" slider to your desired amount. Now, you can save that action just as you did with your presets by going to the "preset" tab, selecting the "+", choose a name and folder, then only select the white balance check box. Make sure all other check boxes are empty. Now, when you apply this action, it will only make that one change to your image. Make sense?


Any time you make a change to your image that you don't wan't, instead of hitting the "reset" button, you can go to the top menu, select "edit" and select "undo..". That will undo the last change you made without resetting the entire image. 


5. Exporting Your Images

Once you are finished editing, you will want to export your images.


CREATE A DESTINATION FOLDERI suggest that before you export, you create a folder on your computer where you want them to go. So minimize LR and create your folder. 


GO BACK INTO LR - Head back into LR and head over to the "library" tab. Now you will see all of your photos. 


SELECT IMAGES - Select which images you would like to export. Remember how I was telling you to rate your images or put them into categories by color? This will come in handy. Let's say you want all of your "*" images to be exported. Go to the top menu and select "edit", then select "select by rating", select "*", then hit "export".  If you want to export all the images that are rated by the color blue, follow the same instructions above but click "select by color" and select "blue". 


EXPORT - Once you have clicked the export button, you have a lot of options. First, we want to tell LR where we want to save the images. Remember the destination folder you just made? That's where we want to tell LR to save the images. So for the "export to" drop down, select "specific folder". Now click "choose" and click on that specific folder. Now LR knows where to send the images. Once that is done, you select "export" and all of your images will begin saving to that destination folder. 


While I don't cover the exporting options in this basic guide, there are many other options that you can choose to change in the export menu such as file size, watermarks, etc. 

Now you have learned how to upload images, make basic adjustments using the sliders, create your own presets and actions, and export your final images! 


I hope that you enjoyed the information and that it will help you learn the basics of editing in LR. 

While that is all for this basic guide, I am in the process of creating a few more in-depth guides that will be available for purchase in the future. 


This guide was created by me. The information given in this guide is merely a suggestion based on how I do my own editing. You can take what works for you and leave the rest. 

This guide is copyrighted and may not be shared or transferred to another party. Once purchased, this is for you and you only.

Due to the digital nature of this content, there are absolutely no refunds. I appreciate your understanding. By purchasing you acknowledge this.