Why I love using Lightroom and Photoshop together

I start with an image I shot a few months ago, which straight out of camera, is not impressive at all. I didn’t take a tripod with me, and as a result, I had to balance my camera on a large rock in order to steady it for this shot. It does have to be steadied, because I’m using a slow shutter speed in order to blur the water.


Several things are wrong with this picture, some more obvious than others. The first thing that’s bugging me is that it’s crooked. This is because the rock was crooked. I can straighten it in Lightroom. I click on the crop tool and grab the little curvy arrow at the top corner and drag until it looks straight. The grid helps a lot. Then I click “done” when I like what I see.

Ah, now it’s straight, but it’s still ugly.

Next, I will work on exposure. I have four sliders here, and I use them all. On this image, however, I only used two of them. First, I bring down the overall exposure, because the image is too bright. I did that on purpose to lower my shutter speed a bit more. I knew I could fix it in Lightroom. I couldn’t go too bright, though, or it would have been unfixable. Next, I slide the “blacks” slider a bit to darken the shadows. I add a bit of contrast, and that part is finished.

Next comes my favorite part, the thing that makes Lightroom my best friend. Colors!! Here you can change the hue of individual colors with sliders. I made my greens less yellow and my orangey yellows redder. You can lighten or darken individual colors and change the saturation. I played with all of these until I liked the image. Here’s a before and after with a little view of the color sliders.

Now I sharpen a little bit and add a vignette, which I try to keep subtle.

I could stop here. I think it’s pretty. But there are a few things I want to do that I can’t do in Lightroom. So I export my finished RAW file as a jpeg and open it in Photoshop. What I want to do now is lighten my falling water. I could go back to Lightroom and do that and then combine the images. Sometimes that’s what I do, but I want to show Photoshop in this tutorial, so I’m going that route for today. I will use the dodge and burn tool to accomplish my goal.

I use dodge set to hightlights to lighten the water that’s falling and the pretty greens behind the falls. I want those to pop. Then I use the burn tool set to shadows to darken the water at the bottom and the darkness between the rocks behind the falls. I like the contrast. Next, I add some glow and some softening to the falling water to give it a more magical look. I use a masked layer to hide the glow and softening effects everywhere I don’t need them.

And now I’m finished.

Before and after:

This tutorial is not meant to be a step-by-step tutorial, but rather a glimpse at one of the ways I might edit a photo. For more detailed and easily followed tutorials, shoot me an email via my Contact Me page, and you can join my tutorial forum at WX.


~ by Rachel McMahon on January 14, 2011.

6 Responses to “Why I love using Lightroom and Photoshop together”

  1. Well done! A very easy to understand “quick look”!

  2. Thanks, Harris!

  3. Oooo that’s so neat! Where did you take this?

  4. Thanks, Chandler! I took it at the Fort Worth Botanic Gardens inside the Japanese Gardens. It’s a beautiful place!


  5. Really dig this! Great job on the photo — and the tutorial is wonderful!

  6. Thank you, James!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: