Articles, Blog

10 Lightroom Editing Tips for Underwater Photographers

September 9, 2019

Brent Durand: Hey everybody welcome back to
the video tutorial series. Today I’m gonna share 10 tips for editing
in Adobe Lightroom and these tips are geared towards underwater photographers but can apply
to any sort of photo you’re shooting as long as you’re editing in Adobe Lightroom. Some of these powerful features, almost hidden
features, will help speed up your workflow and help you edit better images.So with that
said, let’s dive in, let’s see what these tips are. Brent Durand: And number one. This is lens corrections and when I’m editing
I’ll always try to apply the biggest global changes and then go in to the smaller global
changes in to some of the local area changes. So from the stuff that will make the biggest
impact in the photo to the most minute, subtlest impact in the photo. And the first thing I’ll always look at is
lens corrections and what lens corrections does is it corrects for barrel distortion
and vignetting, darkness around the edges of the frame of the image and it’ll also tend
to flatten the image a little bit if it’s got more of a distortion inherent at let’s
say a shorter focal range. Brent Durand: So this is a powerful feature
for underwater photographers, for both macro, wide angle or anything else you’re shooting. So let’s look at exactly how that’s going
to work. Applying the lens corrections is really easy. You want to be in the develop module of Adobe
Lightroom and look at the right hand panel and scroll all the way towards the bottom
to lens corrections. So make sure to open up lens corrections and
you’ll notice that you have two check mark boxes here, remove chromatic aberration, I
always turn that on, you’ll see a lot more of that color around the fringes of high contrast
areas in compact cameras and things like that. It’s a little less apparent in DSLR and higher
end cameras. Brent Durand: Anyways always click that. But enable profile corrections, watch what’s
going to happen as I click this button. Boom, we saw a lot more color around the edges
and the edges became brighter and that’s getting rid of that vignetting and that barrel distortion. You’ll also notice that Lightroom sensei was
able to read the camera and the lens I was using for the shot. They did not know I had a fantasy wetlands
on top of that 16 to 50, but hey, they can’t know that. But anyways for the barrel distortion with
the 16 to 50 they corrected for it. So corrections, corrections off, on, off. Brent Durand: So you’ll notice that it’s a
really powerful tool. For all macro I’ll usually turn this on, there
will be a lot less barrel distortion in a macro lens. But for something like this as we go towards
the wider angle lens there will be more distortion or even a fish eye lens there will be even
more distortion. So this is a really powerful tool whether
you want to apply it or not that’s gonna depend on you but I tend to always check it regardless
to see which I want as a starting point for my editing. Brent Durand: Number two, auto tone. So this is a great feature in Adobe Lightroom,
more for the beginners if you’ve just gotten Lightroom and you’re trying to figure out
what kind of adjustments do I need, how do I make my kind of bland, grayish raw file
in to a sharp, vibrant JPEG, auto tone will help you do that. So basically this will use Adobe sensei, their
algorithm for determining how to make your image look as good as possible and give you
a suggestion. What I like to think of it as a starting point
for your editing and I’ll have my own custom presets for it and once you get used to Lightroom
you’ll probably move off of auto tone and move more in to your own presets and your
own auto tone, your custom auto tones. But to start if you’re curious about an editing
starting point, auto tone will do it. Let’s check it out. Brent Durand: Applying auto tone is really
easy. So in the develop module again you’ll go down
the basic box and look above the basic tone editing sliders and you’ll see this auto right
here, click. Boom, you’ll see that it added some contrast
and made a number of adjustments to add some contrast back in to this image that didn’t
have a lot of contrast to begin with. So I’m gonna hit the slash key, before, after,
before, after. So we’ve got a great starting point for our
image, pretty simple. Brent Durand: Number three. There’s a number of different ways to interact
with your sliders, kind of like everything in Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Lightroom you can
make your adjustments in a number of different ways. So let’s quickly look at exactly how we can
move our sliders around. So we’ve got our sliders right here and what
we can always do as we’re adjusting is double click on the slider right here. Double click and it resets, it goes back to
zero. We can click and drag to get the effect we
want with the slider. Brent Durand: But then we can also type it
if let’s say I’ve got it really small here, I’m having trouble getting back to that .43
where I was, I’m just going to click and I’m gonna type .43. Boom, and then I’ll get it right to there
where I wanted it. One of the other tricks you can do with sliders
is to pull out the box and now I’ve got a lot more space. So now I might be able to actually get it
right to where I want it at .43, well .45, .43 I’ll type and now I’ve used the sliders
in a number of different ways. Brent Durand: Number four, four. Snapshots and resetting. So this is a really powerful tool. I love snapshots any time I want to save the
work that I’ve done so far and move in to something else. So if I’ve made a number of different changes
that are going to be hard to find again, yes I could go back in the history and try and
click on just the right one but you’re looking at 100 different adjustments, good luck finding
that point where you left off. What a snapshot does is it takes a snapshot
of your editing at that moment in time, you can call it anything you want and then you
can go ahead and make any changes you want, you can even reset, start from scratch, re-edit
your photo and always find that snapshot which is that point you left off in the image. So let’s look at how to do that. Brent Durand: So here’s our image inside the
develop module of Lightroom and we’ve got the edits, here’s what I’ve done so far in
this image. Pretty basic but we want to save it and I’m
gonna experiment some more. So what I’m going to do is go to the left
panel and I’ll see snapshots, add and it defaults to date and time which is pretty convenient
but not always. So why don’t I call that finished edit one
and I’ve created this snapshot. So now with confidence I can go and start
tweaking some of these other adjustments here and now I’m going, I’m doing all these edits
and I’m experimenting and I’m grabbing that tone curve and I’m doing all these things
and you know what, shoot, I just don’t like this, how do I go back to where I was? If I look at history, oh goodness, that’s
just too much going on there. Finished edit, let me just click my snapshot
and I’m back exactly to where I was. Brent Durand: And this is useful too if you
want to experiment with this edit as well and I’m gonna start over. Here we go, I’ve taken away all my edits,
this is a file straight out of camera and I’m going to start experimenting. Let’s see if I can get back to where I was
a little bit … with my edit and now I just … What I had before was great, I’m going
to give up on this one, I don’t like the direction I’m going with this, let’s go back to what
was my finished edit and as soon as that loads, boom, that was the edit I had before that
I really liked. So snapshots, really powerful tool and a great
tip. Brent Durand: Number five, that was fancy,
right? This is before and after and as you’re editing
it’s easy to go down a rabbit hole of applying too much editing. Maybe it’s too much color and saturation,
maybe it’s way too much contrast or something like that. So looking at before and after will help you
determine hey, I’m making the right amount of edits, look at the progress I’m making
towards a vibrant image with more pop but making sure I’m not going overboard too. So before and after is a powerful tool just
to see the edits you’ve made so far and where … what direction you want to take your editing
in. Brent Durand: Looking at our photo in the
develop module just hit the backslash key on your keyboard before, after, before, after. You can also come down here, hit this double
Y and you can see before and after here. Hit tab, you’ll get rid of those side panels
and now you can see the before and the after. There’s also a number of other ways you can
check out before and after views so feel free to experiment around with those. Brent Durand: Number six, lights out. This is a really cool feature as you’re getting
towards the end of your editing process and lights out is basically what it says, is it
turns the lights out. It gets rid of all the clutter around the
image and you can basically get rid of the panels in Adobe Lightroom to look at the image
exactly how you’d like to view it. Whether it’s a black background, a white background
or some sort of gray scale in between and it’s great just to see how your photo’s going
to appear whether it’s in social media, on your website or anywhere else you might share
it without distracting panels on the side. So a really powerful feature. Brent Durand: All you need to do is hit the
L key on your keyboard and you’ll see here we’ve got a slightly opaque black background
and here we have a jet black background. So now we can see our image without any distractions
which is really useful when you’re starting to look at the final product. What you can also do is go to Lightroom preferences
and go to the interface tab and you’ll see here lights out. You can choose a screen color, black, dark
gray, medium light gray, white, depending on your website or where you’re gonna host
it. So if your website has a white background
theme maybe you want to preview lights out with white instead of black or maybe you just
want a gray. You can also choose this dim level or the
opacity on what you want. The default here is black 80 percent, that
works for me, but it’s cool to be able to customize it. Brent Durand: Number seven is to watch the
clipping. So basically clipping is where the blacks
on the far left of the histogram or the whites on the far right of the histogram can get
clipped and when that happens your pixels have no data in them. So it’s possible to do that in camera if you’re
shooting way underexposed or way overexposed. But editing you can also start clipping the
shadows, the blacks or clipping the highlights, the whites in the histogram. So by toggling clipping on and off we can
see when we’re starting to lose the detail in those pixels on the black side or the white
side and take our editing from there. Brent Durand: You can view the clipping in
a number of different ways. The easiest to turn a clipping on and off,
to toggle it on and off, is to hit the J key on your keyboard and watch these arrows at
the top of the histogram. I’m going to hit J and you see they’re illuminated
now and we can see blue clipping in the blacks and around the eye we can see some red clipping
in the whites, the highlights. So I hit J, it turns off again, J turns it
back on. You can also turn on either one or the other. So I’ll manually click the black clipping
highlight, black clipping alert, that’s a tongue twister. Or you can click the whites and the highlights
clipping alert, there you go. You can also just hover the mouse and you’ll
see that red pop up or hover, you’ll see the blue pop up. So a lot of different ways you can look at
the clipping. Brent Durand: And number eight, the white
balance selector tool. So this is a really, really powerful tool
and when you have a powerful tool you need to be careful to moderate it. Too much power can be too tempting to create
too drastic of changes. So I like to use this white balance tool only
on occasion, it just depends. And everyone who has a different camera and
strobe set up is going to have slightly different color, especially while using auto white balance
which generally I’ll always suggest, unless you’re doing video. But what this does is it allows us to make
subtle changes to the white balance of the photo but it can be too powerful because if
you do too much adjustment you’re gonna start to see a red tint in the image, especially
towards the higher area of the water column when shooting wide angle. Some of the sun rays come down, might pick
up a lot of red hue which doesn’t look great. So let’s look at exactly how to use the white
balance selector tool and not go overboard. Brent Durand: So here’s our image from before,
the one where we used the auto tone to help create some edits in the image. And what we’re going to do now is take this
white balance selector tool and you want to look for a neutral place. Generally it’s gonna be a piece of white that
has some ambient light coming through or light from your strobes or your video lights and
we pick this neutral target, we’re going to click it and now you’ll see that that white
balance came through. We have a lot more grays and things in the
image but we have a lot more red going on here so let’s look at the before and after,
boom. Brent Durand: So you can see that we added
a lot of color here in the grays, made it more of a true color if you will. We can use red filters to do that sort of
thing but now we’ve got this red and that’s what I’m talking about with great power comes
great responsibility. So that’s a little bit of red. What you can do now in this sort of image
is adjust the temperature and the tint a little bit to try and make the effects a little more
subtle. And if you subscribe to my video series you’ll
see I did an entire photo edit that’s 15 minutes on exactly how I would edit this photo with
great color and some of the other settings. So definitely check that out if you haven’t
yet, the white balance selector tool is certainly a piece of it. Brent Durand: And number nine, here’s where
we get towards the end and some of the really exciting stuff. So this is star ratings in Adobe Lightroom. So we rank our photos, we rate them and this
is an effort to be able to find the photo later because when you apply a star ranking
system from one to five you can go through and search later on and let’s say I don’t
want my photos that aren’t that great, the zero stars, the one stars, the two stars,
boom click three star and here we go, now we’ve got all the three star and above, some
of our better images from the shoot. So let’s see exactly how we’re doing that. Brent Durand: And here’s our photo and you’ll
notice down below it that we have the toolbar visible. If it’s not visible go to view and toolbar,
you’ll say show toolbar and then you’ll see this toolbar and here we have a number of
different criteria. You can flag picks, flag for deletion and
stars, boom, that’s it, three, four, whatever you want. You can add a color system if you want. I’ll generally use starts as the primary ranking
system and then I’ll have colors to indicate various other things. And the beauty of this is that you can hit
… you can go to your … and the beauty of this is that you can go to library mode,
you can hit command or control F and now check this out, no searching for that reef but we
can search based on a number of different attributes here. Based on text, enter metadata, metadata. We can look at all these different criteria
here so I can search for three stars and above and go from there. So really powerful feature. Brent Durand: And number 10, our final tip
for today is creating collections in Lightroom and we know that Lightroom is a non destructive
editing tool and it does everything virtually. You’ve got your raw file here and then all
the edits take place in a virtual layer on top so you’re never hurting the original raw
file which is the beauty of this. You can always go back to a starting point. If you’re editing in Adobe Photoshop without
the original file saved and you save over it with those changes, bye bye first level
of changes, you’re now stuck with that edited product. In Lightroom you can always go back to the
starting point which is great and with collections what we do is we can arrange the photos based
on any criteria without moving the original file structure. Brent Durand: So all of our raw files will
stay in that format whether it’s folders organized by year and then location or whatever system
you use. And then we can organize the rest of our photos
by certain marine life, certain locations, certain colors. Maybe wide angle or macro, maybe certain techniques
like portraits or behavior, things like that. So collections are really a powerful tool,
let’s quickly look at how we can use collections. Brent Durand: In case you didn’t notice yet
I’ve been looking at just four photos inside Lightroom and how do I have these four random
photos just sitting here? Well I’ve actually got them in a collection. So inside the library or the develop module
just go to the left panel, open up collections and here’s where you’ll add a number of collections. So I’ve got tutorials and right here I’ve
got my 10 tips tutorials and I’ve got my four photos I picked from all of my other catalog
and added them in here. So one of the cool things you can do is as
you’re searching around I’ll say “Okay, I found this image,” what I want to do is create
a collection of all my Garibaldi photos. Brent Durand: So you’ll simply select a photo,
you’ll hit the plus sign, you’ll say create collection and what I’m going to do is leave
it inside my tutorials collection set and I’m going to say Garibaldi photos and now
what I do is hit create and now I’ve got this nice collection of Garibaldi photos. Again because this is virtual I didn’t move
the photo from where I originally had it, it is now in this virtual collection called
Garibaldi and I can go through all of my folders, all my archives and move all my favorite Garibaldi
folders in to this collection. So I also have a dedicated tutorial coming
on using collections and setting up target collections and ways to make this more efficient
and quicker. So be sure to stay tuned and subscribe and
you’ll get all the secrets with collections coming soon. Brent Durand: And there we have it, those
are our 10 tips for editing photos in Adobe Lightroom. I hope you found those useful. If you have any questions always feel free
to email me, [email protected] I hope you’re subscribed to the video tutorial
series at we’ve got a lot of exclusive videos in that series. But you can also check out my tutorial website
for written tutorials, gear guides and a lot of other cool stuff, that’s at And feel free, send me your questions, send
me your thoughts, if you want to see how I would edit one of your images go ahead, email
that to me, I’ll make a video for you and give you access to that video. Brent Durand: So a lot of great stuff going
on. Highly encourage you to get in touch, to snoop
around the website, check out all the tutorials there and hope that this inspires you to keep
shooting a lot and take your underwater photography to the next level. So once again Brent Durand and look forward
to seeing you on the next video. Thanks guys.


  • Reply Michael Mitchell February 5, 2019 at 1:49 am

    Thank you for the great vids, I've been shooting for almost 5 years, not as much as I wish (once a year). I was trying to follow the video on my ipad but some of the features such as Snapshot and clipping can't be found, also new to Lightroom. Could you address using devices outside of the desktop version of Lightroom? I know it's a lot of work and I understand if it can't be done. Love the music but I think it could be lower as the repetition overshadows what you're saying. Thank you so much for sharing. Great photos too!

  • Reply th4n February 5, 2019 at 7:43 am

    Great video, thanks! I feel the auto tone feature in Lightroom works poorly in UW Wide Angle – I tend to do everything manually. I would feel the same for presets as the light changes dramatically UW and affects output quality. Didn't know about the clipping feature!

  • Reply Underwater Videographer February 5, 2019 at 11:25 am

    Thanks for the video, once again very useful .
    Waiting for the next one .
    It helps me improve my channel .

  • Reply ki ka February 5, 2019 at 3:48 pm

    Hi, any chance to use Lens correction for Olympus TG5? Thanks.

  • Reply Denis Gauthier April 14, 2019 at 3:42 pm

    Great tutorial, it's nice to have an underwater oriented tutorial. I was surprised that you did not talk about the Dehaze slider in the basic module, I use this feature a lot and it speeds up things for me. What is your take on this? Thanks for the video.

  • Reply Ihab AbdelAziz June 19, 2019 at 7:08 pm

    Nice informative video Brent, it helps a lot many thanks! 
    How about editing videos? could I still use it or you have something else you advise to use?

  • Reply JCMontesHerrera July 14, 2019 at 3:00 am

    Great video bro! I'm kinda becoming good with UW gopro footage, I live in La Paz and will see your footage from here. Definitively subscribing to learn more from you.

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