I started using Lightroom and my workflow sped up. Then I made shortcuts a habit which sped it up even more (there’s a free cheatsheet if you click over). Now, I’m talking about the Lightroom tools I use that make my workflow that much more speedy. All these habits put together cut down my time in front of the computer screen, away from other things I want to do like read a book, binge watch the Voice or Outlander, or sit on my porch with a glass of wine quietly contemplating all the things (I wish that happened, but kids).
This post is all about fast like flash so let’s get to those Lightroom tools because you need these and you need them super fast. These tools also work in Bridge and ACR if you use those instead. Oh! And there’s a video at the end showing you how to do everything listed.
Double Click Slider
If you ever want to just send a slider back to its default, then double-click the slider name and it does it automatically. This is especially helpful for the white balance sliders. Because there are so many times I sit there trying to land the slider on the original tint color or on 0.
Tat Tool (or Targeted Adjustment Tool)
Since this post is all about being fast, I’ll use acronyms. The tat tool is, I think, my favorite. You can use it in the curves panel or in the HSL panel. It is the tiny little circle within a circle (so it looks like a target) in the upper left corner. Click on that and it gives you the tool which looks like two arrows stuck together so one points up and the other down. Take the tool and click and drag on the part of the image you want to change. Once you’re done, put it away.
It saves me when I know I only want to increase or decrease brightness in a small part of the image or its even more awesome for changing colors around in the HSL – especially neon grass. Seriously this saves me from having to play with the sliders and curves because it does the targeting for me.
Alt/Opt Click for Basic Panel
If you want to adjust your highlights, whites, shadows, and blacks in the basic panel quickly so that your shadows aren’t clipped and your highlights aren’t blown, press Alt/Opt and hold it down while you click and drag on the slider. You’ll see colors/blacks or colors/whites where there is blown whites or clipped blacks. The histogram will warn you if there are any but holding the Alt/Opt key will tell you where they are and allow you to push your whites or blacks to the edge.
Alt/Opt Click for Sharpening
To see where your sharpening accentuates your photo you use the alt/opt key again then click and drag any of the sliders in the sharpening panel. I like to specifically use it on the masking slider. It helps cut down on my second guessing about sharpening.
A newer slider under the Effects panel in Lightroom, this one not only helps me tremendously with backlit photos, but also with my black and white photos. It makes knocking the haze back on backlit photos so fast. Before it took time playing with the curves and the basic panel, but now this little slider at the bottom of the panels works so much faster. For my black and whites if I want to add a little more contrast, this slider works sometimes better than the contrast slider and the curves panel. I bump it a bit to put a finishing contrast on my black and white photos.
Spray Paint Can
I’m still adjusting to this little tool but wow, it makes a difference. You can use it for many things, but I find it most useful to group photos that have similar lighting to sync the adjustments. It’s faster than going through, finding a photo with similar lighting then clicking and syncing.
In the Library module, put it in grid view then click the little spray paint can and spray a different color on each photo (just click and drag) for each different lighting. Then when you want to sync those, go to the filters and select the color (type of lighting) you want to sync. You can also use it for keywords, labeling for other reasons, and so much more.
You can find this in the Split Toning Panel and in the Adjustment tools under Color. If you are trying to adjust your colors and want to emphasize or create a color that is already in your photo you only have to drag out from the colors fly out panel to the color you want with the eyedropper tool. It’s much faster to find a color this way than guessing and clicking within the fly out colors.
If you don’t know about this yet, it will change your life. Once you make adjustments to a photo in Lightroom you can copy any of those adjustments (a few, one, or all) to any photos you select. See!!
Filters (for culling)
My culling workflow sped up with Lightroom because I use the arrows on the keyboard and the rating system to cull for photos I want to process. You can also do this through the picks and rejects or using the color labels. When I open Lightroom, I easily click on the filters on/off button and it smartly pulls up all my photos rated with 1 star or higher. And in less than a second, I have the photos I want to process in front of me while the others are hidden away.
Sidenote: I don’t delete photos that I don’t rate because I’ve found a year or two later, going back that there are some I see potential in that I didn’t see before. It’s refreshing and creatively I love going back to oldies with different eyes. This is why I use the rating system and why I only want to hide the photos I’m not processing.
Smart Collections and Keywords
I’ve gotten into the habit of keywording my photos while importing them. It helps so much when I’m looking for a photo or a group of photos to create a smart collection with only that keyword. You can also use smart collections with other filters such as dates, but I find keywords are most helpful for me. For example I keyword my street photos as street so if I want to go through those to add to a portfolio, or create a photobook I easily and super quickly have access to only those photos. I also keyword my daughters because I make a photobook for each of them for each year. This helps me weed out the photos that have nothing to do with them and I can quickly go on my way to making the book.
You access keywords in the Library module and can sync those as well with the spray paint can. See what I did there – I just combined a couple of tools to make the workflow even faster!
And Here’s the video to walk you through everything.
That’s it! Those are my 10 most used Lightroom tools that super sped up my processing workflow. Are there any others that you use that help you out?