5 things to start processing in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom

On Radozhiv, I rarely write about photo processing, but this time I still want to share five basic settings / manipulations that I do for each photoimported to Lightroom (Lightroom).

5 steps to lightroom

5 steps to lightroom

I use several versions of Lightrum that are simultaneously installed on my computer running Window OS. Different versions have slightly different functionality, or different methods for implementing the same functions. Depending on the situation, I choose the version I need. Here are screenshots based on the rather old version of Lightroom 3.7. I have all versions of Lightroom without Russification, since for me this is not important.

For a long time working with the program, I developed my own algorithm for working in Lightroom, which I use almost always. My 5 simple tips will help as much as possible only for those who shoot in RAW format and display photos in batches.

For thoughtful development of each RAW photo separately, I recommend using the original (i.e. native) software. For example, for a Nikon system, this View NX, Capture NX, View NX-i, Capture NX-D.

0 (zero point). I import RAW files.

The essence of the action: prepare the workspace for further file manipulations.

This is the zero, additional point from which work with Lightroom always begins. To start processing photos, you must first import them into the program. I use a fast and primitive upload: I just drag all the files into the Lightroom window and press the 'Import' button. I always import from a directory on my hard drive. If you import from a USB flash drive, the import process will be delayed, since the program will most likely first copy all the source files to its special directory.

Import has its own peculiarities. When photos are imported into Lightroom, you can sometimes notice how the preview picture (thumbnail) changes its color, saturation, exposure. This is due to the fact that each RAW file contains not only the original information about the image, but also many other additional data. One such data is thumbnails of photos for quick viewing. Roughly speaking, a JPEG thumbnail is embedded in the RAW file, which is used to quickly view the captured photo on the camera display. This JPEG thumbnail is based on the settings set by the camera. While importing photos into Lightroom, the program shows JPEG thumbnails ripped out of the RAW file. After trying to view the photo closer, Lightroom builds (renders) a new image directly from the original raw data using its own presets. The presets of Lightroom and JPEG thumbnails do not match, which is why the original picture changes before our eyes.

Unfortunately, it is very, very difficult to get from Lightroom an exact repetition of all camera settings. In fact, it is impossible to repeat all the camera settings. Only native software can display a RAW image on a computer in full accordance with what can be seen on the camera's display. But in order to minimize the differences between how the picture looks on the camera display and in the program window, I recommend disable all additional functions in the camerathat enhance the image. For Nikon, this is primarily about Active. D-lighting.

All improvements must be made with Lightrum.. It makes sense to use the on-camera functions to improve the image only when shooting in JPEG format, or if RAW files will be processed using native software.

After import, you can add tags, tags, correctly catalog a series of pictures, and set up the sorting of photos in the feed.

Also, you can import immediately using a specific preset, in which you can write the settings below.

After importing into Lightroom

After importing into Lightroom

1. I set the camera profile.

The essence of the action: basic setting for the most correct / beautiful rendering of the source RAW file.

The setting is located at Develop -> Camera Calibration -> Profile -> select the desired profile

In order for the image formed in Lightroom to be as similar as possible to the one displayed on the display of the camera, Lightroom needs to specify the correct profile of the camera. In short, the Camera Profile is a picture control mode that is set on the camera (neutral, saturated, monochrome, etc.).

This is the key point. The correct camera profile allows you to significantly improve the visual perception of the picture. Finding a good profile for a specific camera is very, very difficult.

Usually Lightroom has a set of basic profiles: neutral, saturated, landscape, portrait, etc. These profiles very weakly correspond to similar profiles that are set on the camera.

You can do the search for a profile for your particular camera yourself. Usually, third-party developers are involved in creating profiles. I am sure that for a large number of cameras to find a good profile will not work. In this case, you will need to select the profile that you like as much as possible.

An existing profile can be modified, namely, adjust the color shift in the shadows, offset and saturation of each of the three main channels. After that, you can create a custom preset by writing only changes related to Camera Calibration into it (when creating a preset, select only the 'Calibration' checkbox).

How to save a preset is described here. During import, you can immediately indicate the use of this preset. In the future, the profile of the camera will be applied to each photograph.

Camera profile

Camera profile

2. I set the lens profile.

The essence of the action: get rid of the imperfections of the lens.

The function is set as follows Develop -> Lens Corrections -> Profile -> Enable Profile Corrections

Everything is simple here. By choosing a lens profile, you can completely get rid of some of the lens flaws. In general this setting allows you to completely cure vignetting and distortion. Also, here are treated chromatic aberration lens. Lightroom has an extensive database of lenses, with which you can "cure" any of them.

If the lens used is not in the list, then you can manually correct these parameters, and then write the result to a preset, which can be applied to all photos.

After this setting, the distortions introduced by the lens should be leveled.

Subsequently, the lens profile will be applied to each photograph.

Lightroom. Lens profile.

Lightroom. Lens profile.

3. Optimize and expand the capabilities of the camera and lens.

The essence of the action: make the most beautiful / desired image through basic manipulations with exposure and color.

Everything is very simple here. Usually I select one key photo from a series or even from a whole shoot and adjust it according to the main parameters:

  • Increase DD - restoration of highlights and shadows (Highlight recovery, Fill light, Dark)
  • Tune colorfulness (Vibrance)
  • Saturation
  • Clarity enhancement
  • Sharpening
  • Noise reduction

The main thing here is not to overdo it... I try to make the photo “neutral-positive” so that all further manipulations are already based on the original “normal” image.

Important: the level of this or that setting strongly depends on the used camera and directly shot frames. For example, I clearly know and understand how strongly this or that slider in Lightroom affects the RAW files of my cameras, and I need to get used to the new camera and the processing of its RAW files.

In the future, these settings will be applied to each photo.

Conventional manipulations

Conventional manipulations

4. I will synchronize all the images with one key photo.

The essence of the action: bring all images under one basic look.

After all the previous manipulations, I sync all the photos with the changed settings. This is done very simply. In the 'Develop' section, all photos in the feed are selected (CTRL + A) and the 'Sync' button is pressed. In the sync menu, I click the 'Check All' button and then uncheck the 'White Balance' (White Balance), 'Crop' (Crop), 'Spot Removal' (Spot correction). The captured parameters do not need to be synchronized, as each photo has its own individual white balance, cropping and spot correction / restoration.

Synchronization is part of batch processing. At the end of it, all photos are adjusted to similar settings.

Lightrum Sync

Lightrum Sync

After this manipulation in the Lightroom tape, all the photos are more or less brought back to normal. The previous four paragraphs allow you to “bring the image to zero” - to save it from the disadvantages of the lens, camera and squeeze the capabilities of the RAW file to the limit. After carrying out these four manipulations, you can already start real fine processing and prepare the image for the final stage, which the client will see.

5. I crop all the photos.

The essence of the action: fix framing flaws - align the horizon, crop the photo with the correct location of details in the frame, cut out key parts of the photo.

Unfortunately, cropping one photo, and applying the crop to all the photos in the tape does not work. After synchronizing the basic settings I crop all photos. During the framing operation, I also selectively delete unsuccessful images from the Lightrum tape.

Important: I highly recommend cropping photos with fixed aspect ratios. The proportions of the classic frame are 3: 2. After cropping, all photos have the same aspect ratio and are no different during viewing. If this is not done, then after cropping, you can get photos-squares, strongly elongated stripes. This is not consistent with the overall style of the tape photos. In addition, during printing, with a 100% probability, parts of the frame will be cropped or filled with white space. Typically printed in standard sizes, which also correspond to 3: 2 proportions. For almost every shoot, I print photos, or mount a photo book, it is very important for me to observe the proportions after cropping. To preserve the framing proportions in Laitrum, just click on the padlock icon.

After cropping and removing unsuccessful frames, I get a “licked” set of photos in my tape, with which you can carry out further manipulations.

Crop in Lightroom while maintaining the original aspect ratio

Crop in Lightroom while maintaining the original aspect ratio

Important: i call all specified actions'Get Zero ', since these simple manipulations allow you to look at the image, devoid of basic imperfections, raw, neutral, like a blank sheet, looking at which you can already carry out further fine processing.

I believe that these manipulations can improve the quality of the original image by 30%. The remaining 60% is the finalization of the image using Adobe Photoshop (Photoshop, not Lightroom).

In my practice, it often happens that after completing just these five points, you can already get a version of the image that can satisfy both me and my clients. Most often, processing is limited to only these five points, if you do not need to retouch photos (eliminating skin imperfections, working with plastic, artistic color correction, etc.).

For me, the most difficult thing in processing is after bringing all the photos from the series / shooting into a digestible form - to choose the best ones for their fine refinement.

6. Export all photos (bonus item)

The essence of the action: get a finished result that can be viewed by any user / client on any device.

In this case, export is the process of exporting photos from RAW format to a format that is suitable for further processing or viewing. If I plan to do nothing else, I export to a pop JPEG format. If I plan to further refine the photos in Adobe Photoshop, then I use the 'TIFF' or 'DNG' format. Recently, laziness has attacked me, I do not use TIFF and I export all photos immediately to JPEG.

Eventually My photo-processing process is divided into two stages: processing in Lightroom and processing in Photoshop. Lightroom - for basic settings, recovery of "spoiled" pictures, batch processing of a tape of photos. Photoshop - for the final "finishing" photos, retouching, manipulations with layers, masks and more.


I am convinced that the photographer should have a clear plan of action, a clear concept, a well-thought-out methodology with step-by-step actions for processing photos. The developed technological process greatly accelerates and simplifies the processing and delivery of finished material to the customer.

Total. My basic processing constructed as follows: import -> set the camera profile -> set the lens profile -> expand the capabilities of the camera / lens -> synchronize the selected settings -> crop -> export... Again - this is the basic process, the basis from which my processing begins.

Thank you for attention. Arkady Shapoval.

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Comments: 139, on the topic: 5 things with which I start processing in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom

  • Olga

    I take pictures with a Canon camera, and then process them in Lightroom on an iPhone - color and light correction. Can you please tell me if the quality of the picture deteriorates from this manipulation (what about the bodies, not the processing on the computer) ???

    • Dovran

      Olga, most likely yes. But for publication in social networks and for printing photos for a family album, I think they’ll come down.

    • Dmitriy

      No, nothing goes bad. But for the full work you need to download RAW .CR2 files directly to the phone. And to have, of course, a paid subscription to the cloud service.

    • anonym

      Since the application on the phone does not work with raw files and you have to translate them into jpg, the quality deteriorates accordingly

  • Jury

    I do not have to set the camera profile. It is chosen correctly. but lens corrections, I had to turn it on every time until I figured it out and made my default developer settings.

  • Diana

    Here you can change the format of the picture and you don’t need to download so beautiful

  • Mark

    Tell me, how is it right when processing photos, first do color correction and then light correction, or vice versa?

    thanks for answers

  • Vitalij

    Who will advise where to find information on photo editing on Linux?
    rawtherapee or darktable

  • Victor

    Good afternoon, Arkady. A question on Lightroom, but a little off topic. I try to take HDR photos, but this option is not active in the program. Everything works in Photoshop. Please tell me what is the reason. Best regards, Victor.

  • Sergei

    When working with lightrum, there is an item -1
    Be sure to always copy the files to the hard disk first !!!
    Sooner or later you will come across such a problem as usbc, and you will explain to the customer why his wedding photos will not be available.

  • Denis

    Hello! Can you please tell me how with the nikon d750 via WiFi or via a cable to transfer the taken photos immediately to Photoshop on the MacBook (for viewing and editing in the process of shooting Raw files) Please help me figure out what software is needed for this
    Thank you in advance for your reply.

  • owenugh

    Instructions for Windows Phone.

  • Craritaw

    You can also easily deactivate the service in the Internet bank Sberbank Online.

  • Alex

    Arkady, hello! I got d90, I was already glad that “this is d700 at minimum wages”. Confused only one thing - an incomprehensible color when developing in lightroom. Share a good d90 profile for Lightroom, please! re-lex@ya.ru

    • Arkady Shapoval

      I don't have a good LR profile. I advise you to use the native software for converting RAW to 16-bit TIFF, and then rotate it in the LR while preserving the color and drag capabilities. Capture NX-D, ViewNX-i suitable, both free.
      By the way, the D300 is the D700 at minimum wages. The D90 is already a derivative of the D300.
      D3->D700->D300->D90->D5000->D3000 (примерно)

  • Human

    Question on item 3 to experts
    Is there any difference in the resulting photo as a result of the sequence
    • Elimination of noise (Noise reduction),
    that is, it doesn’t matter what to do first, what to do later or not, and if not, how is it better?

    • Michael

      Not all the same. It is better to press noise at the beginning, then processing, and sharpening should be done as the last operation.

  • Arkady Shapoval

    true only in native converter

    • Stanislav Turcan

      This is understandable, but the native converter is too poor. The settings in it are with a gulkin nose, you can’t draw a normal picture (this is a characteristic feature of all native converters - extreme wretchedness).

      The difference between Adobe Standard and Camera Standard is interesting.

      I looked at the pictures from D2H in detail. I came to the conclusion that the Camera XXX profiles turn up the contrast. It can be seen both from the histogram, and externally and from overexposure.
      Therefore, I made a choice for myself - rather Adobe Standard =)

      • Arkady Shapoval

        well, everything is much simpler - native in tiff 16 bits, and then pull whatever you want with lightroom

      • Dima

        in canon, native profiles are very much nothing especially landscape. Yes, and adobe and canon are much better friends. In Nikon, yes, some kind of overcontracted junk. But the color seems to come out more correctly, the camera is standard neutral pale and then you can throw everything you need.

    • Dima

      This applies to sigma, native canon / nikon are very miserable. But the Sigma files will be correctly displayed only by the native one, and the noise will be crushed too. Although Adobe has already learned how to adequately show sigma.

  • Dima

    And where and how can I download additional color profiles, if possible (for an equal camera) on Nikon D5100? I only see the basic landscape, standard, and so on. A friend of mine d90 has a bunch of others there, but she said she didn’t download anything ....

  • Alex

    I use native Capture/View NX. I do RAW post-processing in several passes. Unfortunately, I couldn’t figure out how to significantly speed up/simplify the process.
    1. I sort out the photos, assigning ratings, for example, “Delete”, “Maybe keep”, “For processing”, and there should not be too many of them. It doesn’t matter which software tool (rating, label, ...) to use, the main thing is to significantly and ruthlessly reduce the amount of material for the following operations. Here I filter out focus errors, closed eyes, blur due to incorrect exposure, etc.
    2. I correct the geometry and crop, i.e. If possible, I adjust the horizon/vertical, barrels/pillows and cut off unnecessary details with a crop so that they do not distract in the next stages.
    3. Working with color, light, noise, red eyes, minor retouching, etc. Actually, this is perhaps the most creative, subjective and lengthy stage. The available tools in Capture NX are quite sufficient for me, although some are puzzling. For example, removing red eyes (of course, it’s better to avoid them immediately when shooting, but...) can only be done in automatic mode, and this often doesn’t work. In the same Picasa (see below) this was easily done by hand if necessary.
    4. I export (with the same settings for all) processed photos in jpeg.
    Because I take photographs amateurishly and for myself; I rarely use Gimp or the like. In general, I really regret that Google stopped developing the wonderful product Picasa a long time ago. I used it for a long time when taking photographs with a digital camera. Very easy to learn, non-destructive editing, like in more serious software, convenient and sufficient tools for an amateur.
    What do other amateurs do, what tips/skills will they share?

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Copyright © Radojuva.com. Blog author - Photographer in Kiev Arkady Shapoval. 2009-2023

English-version of this article https://radojuva.com/en/2016/03/5-main-lightroom-settings-yui/

Versión en español de este artículo https://radojuva.com/es/2016/03/5-main-lightroom-settings-yui/