What's the First Thing You Do In Lightroom?

When I teach Lightroom, I ask the workshop students, "What's the first thing you do when you open the program?"

Some folks say, "Crop."

Others say, "Adjust the Exposure."

Still others say, "I don't know what the heck to do first. Help!"

Well, here is what I recommend as a very first step: Put down your stylus (if you are using a Wacom tablet) or take your hand off your mouse, and ask yourself, "What is lacking in a picture - and what can I do to make it better?"

Take your time, think a lot . . . as Cat Stevens used to say/sing.

Here is an example of what I'm talking about.
Above is a screen grab of my original image in Lightroom. In looking at the original photograph (the best I could get with my Canon 100-400mm IS lens from a bleacher that was about 300 yards away from these charging Mongolian soldiers), I asked myself: "What is lacking in the picture?"

The picture was lacking:
• Impact 
• Contrast 
• Color 
• Sharpness  

Knowing that, I made the following adjustments. The order does really not matter - except for sharpening. You should always sharpen last.

• Impact - improved by cropping out the dead space.
• Contrast - improved by adjusting the Tone Curve. 
• Color - improved by increasing the Saturation.
• Sharpness - improved by boosting the Clarity and Sharpness.

Play around with the Tone Curve. It is one of the coolest features in Lightroom. Also, when you are sharpening, place the most important part of the picture in the Sharpening window.

Below is another shot from the same event. Here, too, Lightroom came to the rescue!

Explore the light,

P.S. You can order Lightroom here: