4 Tips For Supercharging Your Lightroom Workflow

In this article, we will be discussing four tips to assist you with supercharging your post-processing and Lightroom workflow. That way you will be able to spend more time on photography, which is the part you actually love doing!

The Issue

It can be a very time-consuming and daunting task to have to go through several hundred photos following a photo session to the point it can feel more like an unpleasant chore than a creative and enjoyable part of the overall photography process. Those late nights of staring at the collection of photos on your computer monitor can really take all the fun away from photography. It may make you want to throw your computer monitor out the window, and toss your camera gear in the garbage and look for real estate prices on desert islands so that you don’t have to edit a photo ever again in your life.

Fortunately, a majority of image editing programs come with some kind of built-in photo management system to help with streamlining your editing. A set of tools comes with Lightroom that have continued to be perfected over the course of many years worth of iterative development. They can really help you with cutting down on the amount of time you need to spend on your post-processing workflow. Whether you are just getting started with photography or are a seasoned veteran, the following are four technique you can use to help you save valuable time and perhaps bring back your artistic spark that you might have lost somewhere along the way.

1. Create presets of your own

A majority of people realize that Lightroom provides an extensive selection of built-in presets for you to use. You can even purchase additional sets. However, although these can be very useful, they may not meet all of your specific photography needs. If you are anything like me, you have a tendency to use the presets as your starting point and then continue tweaking your images endlessly. However, it can be tricky at times to get to the right starting point.

The solution for this is user-created presets. Lightroom allows you to save adjustments in any combination as a Preset within its Develop module that can be applied at any time to any photo. When going through my initial photo imports I find this very useful. I like to add some vim and vigor to my RAW files coming out of my Nikon D750 right away. So on import, usually I apply a preset that I made and named “Nikon RAW Import. It adjusts shadow levels, white, black and a couple of other parameters. It provides me with a great starting point for practically any image and when editing helps save a lot of time.

Saving Your Presets

In order to make presets of your own, go into the Develop module and then changing your sliders values dial in the levels of noise reduction and sharpening that your prefer and adjust the tone curve and you will be 90% done. Once you have created your initial edits, go into the Develop menu and select “New Preset.” Choose the parameters you want to include in your Preset. Finally click on “Create.”

Now your Preset is ready to use and can be applied with just one click to a set of images or one image. You can do this through choosing them (via the thumbnails) within the Develop module. Just right-click on the images you and want and then select “Develop Settings > User Presets > Your Preset Name.” Your Preset can also be applied to all of your photos when you import them by going to the Import screen and choosing the option “Apply During Import” located on the right-hand side of the screen. Pull down the menu called “Develop Settings” and your presets will be in the list.

As an added bonus, it is even possible to share your Presets by navigating over to the folder where they are stored on your hard drive (“Preferences” menu > Presets > Show Lightroom Presets Folder), and then copy the file that has your Preset data in it and then share it with whoever you want to.

2. Sync edits over multiple photos

This option is something that photographers are crazy about! You can save so much time for your Lightroom workflow through using this one odd trick! It might sound cheesy and something that might be found on a used car site, but it really is true in this case.

Over numerous photo sessions you’ll end up having dozens of images which are fairly similar to one another and therefore can frequently benefit from having the same kinds of adjustments done to them. For example, you photograph a wedding and end up with 20 very nice images of all of the groomsmen getting ready in the church office and adjusting their vests. It could easily take you 5 to 10 minutes to adjust the noise reduction, color saturation, highlights, black levels and white balance. Finally you have one photo looking just right. Then you suddenly realize there are still 19 more for you to do. At that point you thinking about how much you could sell your 70-200mm lens for on Craigslist since you know it’s going to be another long editing session of staying up way too late and drinking too many cups of coffee.

Syncing Your Processing Setting

There is actually some hope after all! To sync the edits instantly from your first photo to all of the others that are similar, choose the initial image while in filmstrip view which is located on the bottom of your Develop panel. Next hold the shift key down while choosing the rest of the images and then click on the Sync button, which is located in the lower-right corner of the screen.

You can select which edits you would like to sync, and then once you click the button, all of your other images are edited instantly just like your first one. You have just saved a ton of time. You are very welcome.

Or you can use the Copy/Paste option for copying edits from one photo over to another one. However, you can only do this with one photo at a time. In my experience, the Sync option is a lot more useful.

3. Use the White Balance Eyedropper

As a beginner digital photographer, I was the type of individual wanted to do everyone on my own. Auto mode? No thanks, I can set the exposure on my own. Autofocus? No, I don’t think so.

I learned over time to let go some of my tendencies except for one glaring exception. For far too long I stuck with setting the while balance in post-production on my RAW files.

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Setting the white balance properly is the absolute foundation for most photo editing. Usually you can achieve a good result if you fiddle around with the Tint and Temp sliders long enough. The problem is that takes a very long time, particularly when you have hundreds of images to work on. It takes lots of guesswork as well as trial and error to get the white balance just right.

How To Use The Eyedropper

There is a strange icon located on the left-hand side of the Develop module’s Basic Panel. It looks like a light saber or maybe a medieval dagger. It is actually an eyedropper. It can help you a great deal when it comes to getting the proper white balance to use on your RAW files.

Click on the icon and then locate a slightly gray (neutral) spot on the photo. Not pure white, but a bit off-white to provide Lightroom with a reference point for calculating the value for how the other colors in the photo should look. It neutralizes any shift or color cast in the area. Then in half a second your photo is now white balanced correctly. However, in case it doesn’t look exactly right you can still use the sliders to make adjustments. When you use the eyedropper, it isn’t a totally guaranteed method. However, it almost aways will get you very close or right on the mark.

4. When Culling Images, Flag/Reject

Recently I was chatting with a friends who takes lots of photos of his children using his DSLR. He said that for him one of the toughest things to do was going through his images and removing the bad ones. So his solution is just to not delete anything.

If that sounds like you, whether you happen to be an amateur or profession, and you aren’t able to bring yourself to click on the Delete key whenever you are looking through your photos – Lightroom can help you.

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Maybe you did a family portrait session and you got 20 pics of just dad and mom, 50 that were taken in burst mode with their children sitting on their laps. And also a few hundred when the pet ferret joined in on the shoot. It would be easy to discard some of your imaged due to them being poorly composed, or out of focus, but what about all of the others? What about the ones are still pretty good but also fairly similar?

Flagging Images In Lightroom

When you are in Lightroom and scanning through your library, the arrow keys can be used for moving from one image to another, and the X and P keys are for marking images as rejects or keepers. Tap on the X to give is a small black flag that denotes it is a rejected image or tap on P to give a pic a white flag.

A Rejected photo isn’t worthy or your consideration while a flagged pic is one you have highlighted as being especially good. When you mark a photo as Rejected it doesn’t delete it. That way you can go back any time and look at it later if you want to. However, as you are culling it does signal to you that it doesn’t need to be considered.

Filter Your Image

The filter bar located on the bottom of your screen can also be used for showing only the images that are Rejected, Unflagged or Flagged by clicking on the corresponding icon. If you mark an image improperly by accident, just press on the U key in order to remove its Rejected or Flagged status.

Using the Rejected and Flagged marking has reduced my editing time by a significant amount and will most likely decrease yours also. In a similar way, the number keys 1-5 can be used for marking images to give them one to five stars. You can also use the number 6-9 for labeling images with various colors. I don’t find these as useful as just using the Rejected/Flag method while doing my initial culling. However, I do find it a lot more useful when deciding, for example, which of the images are worth showing to clients, sharing or printing or are the very best images.

Your Turn

I hope you find the above tips to be useful. Definitely there are a lot more options to help make your Lightroom workflow go even smoother that we don’t have time to cover in just one article.

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