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Getting Started in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3, Part 3
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Getting Started in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3, Part 3

Using the Develop Module and Output


This final part of my three-part tutorial on Lightroom 3 is devoted to the Develop module, where adjustments are made to images, and to the Print, Slideshow and Web modules, where images are exported to various uses.

Read parts one and two.

The Develop Module:  The Digital Darkroom

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 was developed to work with raw files for maximum image quality, although you can work on JPEG, Photoshop and TIFF files.  Highlight an image and click Develop at the top right of the screen.  The Develop module is an interface to Adobe Camera Raw and the panels on the right side of the screen give access to the same settings as those found in the tabs in Camera Raw.


The raw adjustments you make are nondestructive and are stored permanently with the image.  You can go back at any time and change the develop settings because you don’t open and close images in Lightroom as you do in pixel-based image editors.  Settings are stored as a small data file that is written in real time as each slider adjustment is made, so you don’t have a Save command.  The settings are not applied until an image is sent to Photoshop or another editor, exported or printed.

The adjustments are grouped in panels on the right of the screen. The top several panel dropdowns are shown in the figure below. The Histogram and Basic panels, where you will do most of the adjustments, are open here. Open the panels by clicking the triangles to the right of their name.

I won’t review raw adjustments here, for lack of space; I’ll just show you the layout.  The things you can do here are the same as in Adobe Camera Raw.

The top item is the Histogram panel that gives valuable information for achieving the best image; it is a light meter on steroids.

The Tools panel is under the Histogram.  These tools have equivalents in the upper left of the Camera Raw dialog window, but I like the way they are organized and implemented in Lightroom.  There is a Crop tool to straighten horizons or verticals.  You can cycle through several different crop overlays with the “o” key and rotate the frame from horizontal to vertical with the “x” key. 

To the right is the Spot Removal tool for sensor dust or small cloning fixes.  Use the square bracket keys to set the brush size and click on a spot and Lightroom will try to find a nearby matching source area from which to patch.  If its choice isn’t the best, grab either the source or target point and move or resize it.

The Red Eye Correction tool is very simple: just choose it, resize as needed and click on the red area.

The Graduated Filter tool and the Adjustment Brush tool allow you to make adjustments to part of the image.  They have similar sliders that allow correction for any combination of exposure, brightness, contrast, saturation, clarity, sharpness and color.  You can toggle all the possibilities or any one with the small triangle in the upper right, circled in red in the figure below.  The panel for the Adjustment Brush tool is shown here.  The Gradient tool panel is the same without the bottom Bush section.

An easy way to work with these tools is to set a very high or low Exposure so you can see the area, then change the settings as needed.  You can see where you are painting with the Adjustment Brush by toggling the “o” key to see a color overlay.  Press Shift-o to cycle through other colors.

There is a checkbox for Auto Mask, which guesses at the desired area by color range. But it can result in a gritty effect in smooth areas such as faces; examine the image at 100% and uncheck it if it is a problem.

When you close a tool adjustment panel, the small circles that indicate each adjustment will disappear.  Clicking the tool again will let you see them again and you can click one to edit its settings.  Caution: clicking Reset at the bottom of each panel will remove all your edits.

The Basic panel has the same corrections that are available in the General tab in Adobe Camera Raw.
Below the Basic panel are six others, which have the controls found in the other (sometimes ignored) tabs in Camera Raw, which are to the right of the General tab.  To go into them in detail is beyond the scope of this overview but they contain a lot of horsepower. Here is a summary:

The Tone Curve panel lets you make curve adjustments. There is a Target Adjustment tool in the upper left, circled in red in the figure below. Click it, move the cursor into the image, click on a tone you want to lighten or darken and drag your cursor up and down.  This feature isn’t in Adobe Camera Raw, at least as of this writing.

Next below is the HSL / Color / B&W panel which lets you do anything you want with colors. You can choose to display sliders for Hue, Saturation or Luminance, or all three at once. There is a Target Adjustment tool here similar to the one in the Tone Curve panel, and its powers are amazing.  It affects only colors near in hue to the one you clicked on.  As you click and drag over a color in the image you can watch the change in the relevant sliders.

The Split Toning panel lets you colorize a black and white image by adding different tones (usually warm vs. cool) to the lightest and darkest areas.

The Detail panel is for noise reduction and sharpening.  In Lightroom 3 you can now do stronger reduction without softening.

The Lens Corrections panel is new in Lightroom 3 and is a wonderful addition. There are two tabs, Profile and Manual.  The Manual tab lets you do corrections similar to those in earlier versions of Photoshop.  In the Profile tab, if you check Enable Profile Corrections your lens, and its focal length if it is a zoom, will be read from the image’s metadata and corrections will be made for a number of issues such as vignetting, chromatic aberration and any complex distortions for that particular lens. It is not analyzing the image to do this; it is relying on measured data for a wide assortment of lenses.  And of course these corrections are non-destructive and can be edited at any time.

The Effects panel lets you add light or dark vignetting to the edges of an image. You can now choose three different ways the vignette will interact with the image, similar to blending modes: Highlight Priority, Color Priority, or Paint Overlay (the legacy method). The term post-crop means that if you change the crop, the vignette will adjust to the new one. You can also add realistic film grain here.

The Camera Calibration panel provides another way to make adjustments to the colors in an image.  It is the same as the equivalent adjustment in Adobe Camera Raw.  The Profile dropdown lets you choose the equivalent of the settings on your camera (called Picture Styles for Canons).  You will only see the ones specific to the camera as read from the metadata.

On the left side of the screen you will see the History list, which stays with the image. When you “open” the image again you can see all the steps you have made.  You can click any step to see how the image looked at that stage.  But a warning:  if you go back to an earlier history state and do something else, you will loose the steps that were above (after) it.

Presets panel: The left side of the Develop screen contains a Presets panel.

Presets are sets of slider settings in the Develop panels that will give you different looks.  There are many presets loaded with the program and you can create custom ones and download many others from the Internet.  They will be in a User Presets list beneath the built-in Lightroom Presets that you see in the figure.  If you find one you like, you can tweak the sliders further to customize the look for a given image.

Another gotcha:  If you apply several presets you may get a cumulative effect, depending on whether the presets were saved with all the slider positions specified, or only some.

Virtual Copies:  You can have several “copies” of an image that have different adjustments.  Go to Photo > Create Virtual Copy.  It will appear in the Filmstrip next to its parent image, with a corner turned up to indicate it is a copy.  If you have started to make adjustments and decide you want to create a clean copy that doesn’t have your adjustments, click on the bottom history state, make the copy and then go back to the one you were working on and click the top history state again to be able to continue working on it from there.  This is necessary because a virtual copy will have any adjustments “flattened.”  That is, its history will start clean from whatever state it was in when it was copied.

Synchronizing settings:  Here is another very powerful feature. You can sync the settings for one image (the most selected one) to other selected ones with the Sync button above the filmstrip on the right.  You will get a dialog that lets you choose which settings to sync.  You can do this from either the Library or Develop module.

For images that have been keyworded, or had develop settings applied, a small icon appears in the lower right of each thumbnail in the filmstrip.  But when a folder has just been opened, it can take a few seconds for that information to be read and the icon to appear.  You can click each icon and the settings will be shown.  In the figure below I have clicked the crop icon and you can see the crop frame in the Loupe window.


Lightroom Plug-Ins

A plug-in is a shortcut to processing with another program, after which the resulting image will be brought back into the Lightroom catalog.  For instance, you can export a set of bracketed exposures directly to Photomatix Pro.  Select the set of images in the Filmstrip and go to File > Plug-in Extras > Export to Photomatix Pro.  You can also open a single image for tone mapping in Photomatix.  There are similar plug-ins for other programs such as OnOne PhotoFrame and the various Nik programs.  But these plug-ins will run as external editors and bring a .tif or .psd file back into the parent folder (and Lightoom’s catalog).  In the cases of PhotoFrame and Nik, I prefer to go to Photoshop and run them from there, where I have other adjustments and flexibility.  I prefer to run Photomatix from Lightroom for the ease of selecting the files. 

Integrating Photoshop and Lightroom

The Lightroom tools are so powerful that for many images they are all you need, but you will need to go to Photoshop to use filters and to work with many plug-ins and things such as layers and blending modes.  Once you save an image in Photoshop it will automatically come back into the Lightroom catalog.

You can open an image into Photoshop (or any editor of your choice specified in the Preferences) with Photo > Edit In.  In addition to opening it as a normal image, you can open it as a Smart Object, or if you select several images you will have choices to open them as layers or merge to a panorama or to HDR in Photoshop.  (If you open a raw file in an image editor it will simply open; there is no need for choices.)

If you open a Photoshop, TIFF, or JPEG file you will have three choices, as shown in the figure below.  The choice to Edit a Copy is obvious.  The top choice, Edit a Copy with Lightroom Adjustments, is there because you can make further adjustments to a Photoshop or other rendered file with the Develop module (but not with the power of working on a raw file).  If you have done so, you will want to choose that option.  If you haven’t done anything to the rendered file, or you don’t want to have anything you did be used, you can choose Edit Original.  Which of the three buttons is selected will reflect the last choice you made.

After you have done your Photoshop work, do a Save and the .psd file will be placed in the same folder as the raw file.  It will be added to the Lightroom catalog and will appear in the Filmstrip.  If you do not choose to give the file your own name, Lightroom will append –Edit to the filename.  If you want to give it your own name, do a Save As.

If you do a Save As to rename a file and it does not appear in the Lightroom filmstrip, go to Library > Synchronize Folder.  (First, make sure you are working from the actual folder to which it was imported, and not looking at the Last Import; externally edited files will not show there.) 

When a saved image comes back into Lightroom it goes to the end of the filmstrip. There is a Sort dropdown above the filmstrip in the Library and Develop modules that lets you re-order it with its parent raw file by capture time, or other choices.


I love the Export function in Lightroom.  Highlight an image or a set of images and click on the Export button in the lower left of the Library module, or go to the menu bar and select File > Export from any module.  You will get a dialog box that lets you specify the image parameters, and you can save custom presets for common uses such as e-mail or web posting.

As with any dialog, read the fine print and you will find everything you need.  I keep a folder on my desktop named Lightroom Exports so I don’t have to specify a location each time.  Then I later move the files from that folder as needed, outside of Lightroom.  (These exported files won’t need to be in the Lightroom Catalog.)

There is now a Watermarking panel, the second from the bottom in the export dialog, where you can add a custom watermark to all the images on export.  You have the same option in the Print, Slideshow and Web modules.

In addition, there is a new Publish Services panel in the Library module, below the Collections panel.  With the version 3.2 update there are setup managers for your accounts on Facebook, Flickr and Smugmug, and other popular services will be sure to follow.  There is an option to Find More Plug-Ins Online.


Printing from Lightroom is a dream and you don’t have to make a Photoshop file to do it; you can print any file in the Catalog, including a raw file.  Lightroom will make a temporary file sized as needed and then delete it when the job is printed.  Custom layouts can be printed but I’ll introduce the basics of printing a single image on a page. 

Highlight the image you want to print in the Library or Develop modules.  Go to the Pint Module, go to Page Setup in the lower left and choose the paper size.  In the Mac printer setup, leave the scale at 100 percent; you will set the size in Lightroom.  If you are using a PC you will not have the Print Settings button shown here next to Page Setup because that menu is reached from the Print settings dialog box.  When you say OK, the printer and paper size will be shown in the upper left of the main window. 

Then go to the right hand panels for print settings. 


In the Layout Style panel choose Single Sheet / Contact Sheet. 

In the Image Settings panel I prefer not to check Zoom to Fill.  I’ll set the size I want below.  If you have an image in landscape orientation, check Rotate to Fit.  You can add a stroke border if desired.

The Layout panel lets you set the size of the image.  In the example here, I have entered the numbers I want for the Cell Size.  You can also modify the size with the sliders if an exact number isn’t important 

The choices in the Guides panel are straightforward.  The Page Bleed choice relates to printers that have a wider bottom margin due to paper handling needs.  The margins for the given printer will be shown.

The Page panel lets you add a custom Identity Plate, watermark, or text information.

In the Print Job panel, as in Photoshop, you have the choice whether Lightroom or the printer will handle color management.  If you choose the former you will need to specify the appropriate paper profile.  You can also specify a print resolution and a sharpening amount.  The sharpening algorithm is very sophisticated and is to be trusted.

Then hit Print in the lower right of the screen and you will be taken to the printer driver, where you will need to enable or disable printer color management according to the choice you made in Lightroom.  If Lightroom is handling color management, turn it off in the printer driver.  You can’t soft proof in Lightroom to choose the best paper and rendering intent; you will need to go to Photoshop for this function.  But as printers, papers and profiles become better, different papers are now much closer in how they render an image and soft proofing is less important than in the past.

If you hit Print One you will bypass the print driver and use whatever settings are there from its last use.  I prefer to use the Print button instead so I can make sure the settings are right.

In addition to printing a single image on a page, you can choose from custom layouts in the Template Browser on the left of the screen, or create and save your own. 

With Lightroom 3 you can now place several different images on a custom or freeform layout.  You can size each image individually and overlap them if you wish.  In the Layout style panel choose Custom Package and drag images from the filmstrip.  Click on one to reposition or resize it (using the handles that will be displayed).  Right-click or Control-click on an image to get a context menu that lets you move it above or below overlapping images.


Making a slideshow from Lightroom is a snap.  Gather the desired images into a Collection and go to the Slideshow module.  (There is no need to make them JPEGs or to resize them; you can use a mix of raw files and rendered files.)  Go to the dropdown panels on the right of the Slideshow module and set the desired parameters.  To add music, check Soundtrack and navigate to the file.  Then you can click Fit to Music and the durations (the Slides value) will be adjusted to sync the length of the slideshow to the soundtrack.  If you change the Fades value (the transition time), click Fit again to re-adjust the Slides value.  If you don’t want to sync to the duration of the music, just set Slides and Fades values of your choice.  If the music is longer than the slideshow duration, it will be truncated (rather abruptly) when the last slide is done.  You may prefer to take the audio file into a music editor to fade it at the desired length and then use the Fit option.

If you want to play your slideshow on another computer or a TV, you can create a video.  In the lower left of the screen, click Export Video.  (There is also an option to Export PDF, but it is much more limited than a video; transitions will be at a set rate rather than the rate you specified, and there will be no audio.) 

You have a choice of video sizes; check the dropdown list in the Video Presets box and choose a sufficiently high resolution for your end use.  For a TV or another computer or projector, you will probably want 720p or 1080p, but check to see what resolution will work best on the device.  The others are small low-resolution files for the web and mobile devices.  A 1080p video file will be about 30 MB per minute of playback time.

Specify a name for your file in the Save As box and save it in a location you can easily find.  An .mp4 file will be rendered which will play in Windows Media Player 12, Adobe Media Player or QuickTime, and which can be uploaded to video-sharing sites.  (But be aware of licensing issues for commercial music.)  Play that rendered file (by double-clicking on its icon) to be sure it is OK.  You can then copy the rendered slideshow to a disc or thumb drive for portability.  To play it in a DVD player you will need to use a DVD disc.

The Web Module

Select a set of images, or highlight a Collection, and go to the Web module.  On the right side of the screen open the various panels and choose your layout options.  There are Airtight Viewers and Flash and HTML Gallery options.  On the left is a list of templates and you can add custom ones.

You can preview your layout in a browser, export the web pages and upload to your site.


For more on Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3, watch this AdoramaTV video, where Mark Wallace covers post-prouction workflow in Photoshop Lightroom 3:


Diane Miller is a widely exhibited freelance photographer who lives north of San Francisco in the Wine Country and specializes in fine-art nature photography. Her work, which can be found on her web site, has been published and exhibited throughout the Pacific Northwest. Many of her images are represented for stock by Monsoon Images and Photolibrary.


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