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How We Edit Our Images in Lightroom 3

Have you ever called yourself and listened to your own voice on your voicemail message? Don’t do it. It’s totally creepy.

Now have you ever recorded a 20 minute screencast? Ick, ick, ick.

ICK.

I had to crawl under my desk when I heard my voice play back on this – my very first ever screencast. The sound of my own voice felt like somebody completely different. Am I really that high-pitched? Is that why everybody backs up when I speak? I always thought it was my breath… But Jeff just smiled at me from across the room, leaned back in his ergonomic desk chair, stretched his arms up high, yawned, and said, “Great job sweetie. That was pretty awesome for your first time.”

In this screencast (again, my first ever), I demo how Jeff and I edit our wedding and engagement images in Adobe Lightroom 3. This isn’t a tutorial on how to use Lightroom, it’s simply an explanation of the editing process we use to achieve our natural style for our wedding and engagement shoots.

I even give away our ‘secret ingredient’…

This screencast is open to our newsletter subscribers only, so sign up to receive our updates and you’ll be sent the exclusive password for subscriber-only content just like this.

Enjoy!

Things we referenced in this video : Jared Platt’s Lightroom Workshops


Hugs,

Erin



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Cassie Russek -

Super informative. I had no idea I could “auto sync” where’s that function been all my life!

Chris Mallet -

You say stinkin’ a lot.

Emilia Schobeiri -

oh yay! I can’t wait to get the email with the password :-)

Holly Howe -

lovin’ it so far! thanks so much, erin & jeff! :D

David Bjorgen -

@[64300092:2048:Jeff Youngren] I would assume that if you switch completely over to Lightroom’s sharpening, wouldn’t you then be able to export images sizes on a per needed basis rather than exporting full size images all the time?

Cassie Russek -

Super informative. I had no idea I could “auto sync” where’s that function been all my life!

Carrie Vines -

Jeff Youngren would love to know the results of your sharpening comparisons.. I also use magic sharp, but only for web images…never thought to use it for printing, so I’m very curious to see what your results are.

Mike Reed -

That was great, thank you! The clarity was a real eye opener, I always went the other way for sharper images but paid for it in blemishes. Any chance you would elaborate a little more on using magic sharp? Being obsessive compulsive over sharp images, as I am, I’d love to see how it’s done. For my wedding and portrait sessions I am 99.9% lightroom and avoid photoshop (like the plague) but will use it if I have to. Thanks again.

Carrie Vines -

loved the fun stuff at the end… *clap…clap clap*

Alison Mish Photography -

Learned so much! You guys are awesome! Thanks for being so generous with your information! I love this site :)

Samantha Lord -

Haha, loved the “outtakes” at the end :) Thank you for sharing!

Crystal Pridmore -

Awesome screencast- thanks for sharing! The clarity trick is one of my favorites to do. I stopped using PS when I discovered that about a year ago.

Joe Thompson -

Wow! Thanks so much for sharing such great information on your post techniques. The negative clarity really surprised me but makes so much sense!

Chris Mallet -

You say stinkin’ a lot.

Mia Reed -

You guys rock! Your voice is sweet…easy to listen to.

David Bjorgen -

To use an Erin Youngren phrase: “So stinkin’ good.”

Nathan Cashion -

Wow, you guys do pretty much the exact opposite as everything I’ve learned. But, hey, who cares when your photos are the best! Great info.

Jeff Youngren -

LOL. I love her.

Jeff Youngren -

@[17811115:2048:Nathan Cashion] Really? Like what? Were you still able to follow?

Jeff Youngren -

Oh man, that changes everything!

Jeff Youngren -

We export full size images from LR, and then run magic sharp on them. HOWEVER, Lightroom’s sharpening has gotten so good that we may be eliminating this step, but we need to do some side-by-side print comparisons, which we’re planning to do. When we do, we’ll post results here. We’ll be doing different sharpening methods, and then having 20×30′s printed of each of them.

Jeff Youngren -

I loved that part, too. I *had* to leave it in. So funny.

Jeff Youngren -

It’s definitely magic sauce!

Don Sheffler -

Erin, it’s always shocking to hear your own voice, but don’t worry, you sound awesome!

Bethany Ann Stuart -

This was so awesome. The ‘trick’ was such a good one! Thank you! And Erin, your voice is beautiful and lovely to listen to! :)

Danielle Smith -

thanks! the shadows slider tip is really going to help me! bye bye blacks slider, hello shadows slider! thanks for being so giving!

Don Sheffler -

The reason Brightness preserves highlights a little better than Exposure is because Exposure is weighted to the highlight tones. Imagine using the Levels arrows in Photoshop. Exposure in Lightroom is equivalent to using white/highlight arrow on the right, and just like in Levels when you do that it also moves the middle arrow by half. It feels like you’re just lightening up the whole image, but you tend to blow the highlights if you’re concentrating on the midtones. Brightness on the other hand is pegged to the mid-tones so it is like using the middle arrow in Levels independently, or if you use the Curves adjustment in PS it is just like pulling up the middle of the line. It doesn’t push up the highlights generally. Just FYI I am hearing that Lightroom 4 does away with the Exposure slider altogether.

David Bjorgen -

@[64300092:2048:Jeff Youngren] I would assume that if you switch completely over to Lightroom’s sharpening, wouldn’t you then be able to export images sizes on a per needed basis rather than exporting full size images all the time?

Carrie Vines -

Jeff Youngren would love to know the results of your sharpening comparisons.. I also use magic sharp, but only for web images…never thought to use it for printing, so I’m very curious to see what your results are.

Lindsey Olson -

That was really great and very encouraging as I’ve been pursuing a very clean editing style myself, after spending a few years jumping all over the map trying different styles! It was fun, but I find that what I love best is clean, bright, vibrant images that are true to life! Thanks for some great suggestions on how to use Lightroom tools better!

SKNY Photography -

Wahhh! I haven’t gotten my secret pass code yet :(

Laurie Manning Crutchfield -

very cool! I love contrast but I use the black waaayyy to much, the shadow slider will now be my friend!

JacquelynandChris Cartwright -

I watched this tonight too! I’m enjoying Lightroom so far..

Nathan Cashion -

Yeah, @[64300092:2048:Jeff], I definitely could follow. I’ve always been told to use exposure and avoid brightness/contrast, use black point over shadows, and to increase clarity. But in each case, your reasoning made sense and the results proved your point. Of course, I use Aperture and do mainly landscapes/non-portraits, so there may be some slight differences in subject matter and processing. I’m going to have to test and compare your workflow.

Nathan Cashion -

BTW, @[64300200:2048:Erin], I would have liked to see before & after comparisons with the masters after each edit. You did a great job on your first screencast! They’re so awkward for a while.

Betsy Tomasello -

My favorite parts are from 20:00 on… LOL Loooove you Erin!

Kathy Bauernfeind Howard -

Thanks for sharing all this great info! I love LR and the clarity slider as well. Please do keep us posted on your sharpening ‘experiment’.

Joe John McDonald -

Great

Kathy Bauernfeind Howard -

Thanks for sharing all this great info! I love LR and the clarity slider as well. Please do keep us posted on your sharpening ‘experiment’.

Erin Kincaid Youngren -

Thanks @[17811115:2048:Nathan Cashion]! I totally meant to show the before/after! Shoot! Thanks for the reminder :) And yes, all of our editing is geared toward beautiful, creamy skin-tones and preserving detail, so if you’re not editing portraits, then the editing methods are probably going to be pretty different.

Erin Kincaid Youngren -

@[1546596013:2048:Don] Yep! Lightroom 4 will combine the brightness slider with the exposure slider. So now the exposure slider will actually be a pretty useful tool that will preserve the highlights and it won’t be so confusing anymore. I can’t wait to do a screencast with the new version!

Erin Kincaid Youngren -

Ha! I need to put a dollar in a jar every time I say that… or maybe just a penny…

Gena Daniels -

LOVE the tip about using the shadows more! That was definitely missing in our editing…beautiful! Thanks so much for the info.

Todd Royal -

This was a great screencast! Thanks for sharing part of your workflow with us! I noticed that all the images you showed were shot with ISO 200. Do you notice a sharpness or highlights difference when shooting in ISO 200 vs. 100? I know some other photographers who shoot in available light and use ISO 200 as well, even in daylight. I’m wondering why you guys seem to have this preference.

Thanks again for sharing this!

Debbie Smith -

FREAKIN AMAZING! One of the best editing videos I’ve seen. You make it look so easy and I’m so glad I found you! ♥

Weston Bennett -

Very helpful, thanks Youngrens! One quick question, because you shoot in RAW, do you ever increase the vibrance or saturation of your images?

Jeff Youngren -

To be honest, there’s not much of a difference, but you can call it old habit. One of my favorite films back in the day was a Fuji ASA 200 and so it’s just old habit to have that be a happy place. On the 5D Mark II I don’t see a big difference. Good observation!

Jeff Youngren -

YAY!

Jeff Youngren -

Yeah, when Erin discovered that and showed it to me I was like WHAT?!

Jeff Youngren -

You’re welcome!

Jeff Youngren -

You’re so welcome :) Glad it was helpful for you! Aren’t the shadows so much more lovely than the blacks slider?

Jeff Youngren -

You got it!

Jeff Youngren -

We’re glad we connected, too :) Thanks for the kind words – that means a TON!

Jeff Youngren -

YES! Excited for you!

Jeff Youngren -

Check your SPAM, or if you’re a new subscriber you would see the PW in your final confirmation e-mail.

Jeff Youngren -

David Bjorgen We already can do it on a per-size basis because LR runs a Droplet on the images when they finish exporting, so it’s nice and slick. But I’d rather just do it all in LR, but the ex-scientist in me says that tests are needed first *pushes up glasses*

Phil Crean -

Thanks ever so much for this..very interesting.
Can I ask what picture style you set on the camera?
I go with Faithful and have just tried the clarity trick in Bridge/ACR and it seems to work pretty much the same…Don’t have Lightroom…Yet! Am thinking about it.

Danielle Phaneuf Ellis -

Awesome job Erin, I think LR is great, but your images look better straight out of the camera than most. Really enjoyed the screencast!

Faye Bernoulli Silag -

I love you guys (and even more that you’re from San Diego– my hometown)! I’ve been trying to hone my Lightroom skills to be able to edit faster, so this really helps!

Emily Crall -

Love this post! I’ve been using LR3 for a long time and still didn’t know some of that basic stuff. Thanks so much! And I ADORE then end with the bloopers! HAH!

Jenny Van Dijk -

Erin this was so great! I’m an amateur and currently using Apple’s Aperture but will be making the switch to LR for sure. Keep up the screencasts, they are super helpful :)

Laura Price Fiore -

Thanks so much for this you two! I’ve been fussing around in the Lightroom 4 preview and still wondering how to make for faster editing time than when using photoshop…you’ve shown me the way! Will definitely buy Lightroom 4 now, and am looking forward to playing with your style of editing. I think you may have just freed me up to take more photos!

Rebecca Ickes -

Reviewing this as I get to editing my most recent engagement session. That clarity slider is going to open up a whole new world! Do you guys ever go back in and “erase” (aka use the clarity brush at say +30) to bring back in sharpness to the eyes or other important stuff?

Stephanie 'Nadig' Rodgers -

Can the “How we edit in Lightroom” video still be watched? I just got signed up for the newsletter and got the password. When I type it in, the video isn’t playing… :/

Cindy Kyle -

Loved this! Now I’m going back into Lightroom to fly through some images :) Thanks!

Mally LeBoeuf Hartenstein -

It unlocks but doesn’t play- what am I doing wrong?

Mikell Nielsen -

Bravo! From one “stinkin” sayer to another… that was stinkin awesome! And thank you for the info.

Chris Stewart -

Jen and I just finished watching this video you guys and its always awesome to be able to see how others edit and edit fats and simple. I always am working on making our workflow in lightroom fatser and more efficient and these steps you guys showed in the video will help that tremendously. Thanks for sharing this guys. Now I just need to get LR4 already. ;) Hope the SAC workshop rocks for you!

Michelle Sorek Edgerton -

I apologize if this was asked already: I love the clarity trick, but the girl on your video had great skin to begin with, do you use this same method for someone with not good skin or would you go into photoshop for that?

Dana Todd -

just signed up, anyway to receive the passcode for htis?

Moira Du Toit -

I have watched a LOT of online tutorials and this is one of the best, concise, informative, no waffling, nice voice, loved it! Thanks I learned a lot. ♥