Timing is everything – especially when it comes to capturing that decisive moment in a photograph. But how do you make the best of said image once it’s already been taken, in a manner that is both creative yet time efficient?
Enter Adobe, which has created a series of Lightroom-based ‘coffee break’ tutorials on YouTube. Lasting a mere minute – less time than it takes to make a cup of coffee – these mini movies are packed with information that could stay with you for a (working) lifetime.
Here’s a quick overview of the latest selection to make sure you’re full of (coffee) beans and raring to go with your own creative pursuits.
Knocking spots off the competition
Point your browser in the direction of YouTube to discover how to use the Spot removal tool in Lightroom in 60 seconds or less, as tutored by the founder of the ‘Pretty City London’ Instagram page, Siobhan Ferguson.
As it sounds, this tool is for removing unwanted items and visual blemishes from your post-capture photos.
“You can find the tool as a circle under the histogram in Lightroom, and you’ve two options, either clone or heal,” Siobhan explains. “Usually I have my feather set to zero and opacity to 100. Obviously, size depends on the size of the object, but the really excellent feature is the visualised spots. If you click on your image, it converts it to black and white so you can easily identify the unwanted spots. You can also adjust your slider slightly to brighten the image and make any blemishes more obvious.”
Once you’ve identified any unwanted elements you want to remove from your photos, Siobhan says to simply click on the offending spots and thereby highlight them for removal.
“You can [subsequently] switch the black and white feature off by clicking ‘A’ on your keyboard, or switch it back on by another click of ‘A’.”
Thus inspired, you’re now ready to fast-track your photography to even greater creative heights.
Doing the splits
Whilst you’re slurping your coffee you might also want to click on the YouTube tutorial on how to use Split Tones in Lightroom by artist, painter and photographer Claire Luxton.
Claire describes how she uses this tool to create a “cool film-like effect,” with a self-portrait deployed by way of visual example.
“I start in highlights and use the dropper tool to pick my colours – a nice cool cyan, for example – and then click on shadows and use the dropper again to pick a different colour, perhaps a medium orange.”
With the creative basics sorted, Siobhan recommends clicking on ‘Balance’ and playing with whether you want more of the shadow tone, or more of the highlight tone. “Personally, I tend to go with the latter,” she advises, “and will perhaps drop the saturation down a little bit with regards to the cyan.”
The artist recommends comparing your before and after images side by side on screen so that you can appreciate how such split tones have affected your image. “Split toning can really help to create that cool, film-like effect on the image,” she concludes.
A copy with your coffee
Freelance photographer Ron Timehin is another Adobe Lightroom whizz sharing his expertise with fellow photographers, online and for free. Ron’s chosen subject is how to use Virtual Copies in the program.
“For those who don’t know what a Virtual Copy is: sometimes you want to edit an image in two different ways, but you don’t want to lose the first edit,” he says.
With all creative endeavours being subjective, having the ability to compare and contrast is a definite boon.
“You can click at the bottom of the screen and bring up a menu with the option to ‘Create Virtual Copy’,” Ron continues. “It’s very simple. So you now have two separate images, side by side, but it hasn’t taken up any extra space on your hard drive, which is awesome. From here, we can now play around with the new edit – for example change the exposure so it’s now darker and more moody.”
Since the edits to the original image haven’t been lost – by virtue of the copy being made – the photographer can then see which edit he or she ultimately prefers. As with any creative endeavor, the ability to be flexible is key. With Adobe Lightroom, that flexibility is here in spades.
Straight up, no chaser
You want to be level headed when applying any changes to a cherished image, as well as having a level horizon to start with.
If, by any chance, you've ended up with a skewed shot, help is at hand by virtue of Adobe Lightroom’s ability to level out the horizon. Photographer Danny Coy demonstrates this in his 60-second video snapshot on the subject.
“It’s so important to have straight horizons for your landscape photos, but the lack of them is something I see time and time again,” says Danny. “And it’s such an easy fix – it takes all of 15 seconds to put right and it just makes the images so much more satisfying to the eye.
“Go to the rectangular box at the top right of the screen in Lightroom, where the crop tool becomes a rotate tool. Lines appear as you start to rotate the grid, which makes it easy for you to make sure you’ve got your angles perfect.
“Anything on the horizon and all your verticals can be made perfectly straight. There’s no reason why you can’t spend 15 seconds editing. It's as easy as that – and the results are so much better!”
Suitably inspired by the above, you’ll also want to head over to Adobe’s Coffee Break tutorials on YouTube at the earliest opportunity. Wake up and smell the creativity!