Adobe Lightroom CC – top tips from leading photographers

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Adobe ran an online event last week to provide photo-editing tricks and tips from some of the UK’s most followed photographers on Instagram, including Alistair HorneCarolyn Stritch, Julia Smith and Ryan Howard.

Helpfully, Adobe recorded the event and added it to YouTube. I’ve embedded the full video below. (You might want to get some tea ready; the video is 1hr48…)

The most useful parts for charities are the bits where each photographer shows exactly what they do to get their photos ready for publication in Adobe Lightroom CC, for which registered charities can access 20% discounts through Charity Digital Exchange.

In those moments, each of the speakers explain what they’re doing and why, and you can see how they’re doing it so you can replicate it yourself. If you don’t have a couple of hours to kill, I’d recommend skipping through to those bits in particular.

Assuming that time is money for you, I’ve also written up summaries of the tips they talk through in the video! 😃


‘Preset packs’ – edits already done for you

Alistair Horne explained that the first thing he does with his photos is to add a VSCO preset pack, which are pre-set filters that are specifically designed for different camera / lens types.

Once he’s done that, he tweaks the hues and saturations of individual colour ranges to make standout elements pop (imagine you take a photo of a green field and want a poppy to stand out more – you can reduce the green saturation while increasing the red really easily with a couple of sliders.)


Just right meme

Getting the brightness and colour just right

To lighten her image, Carolyn Stritch removed the black ranges while increasing the prominence of the whites. As opposed to just universally increasing a photo’s brightness, this keeps the colours in the mid-range at the same level, but just affects the edges.

As doing so does remove some of the subtler colours, she uses the Lightroom colour panel’s luminance settings to bring back specific colours that had been lost – without over-saturating the bits that already look fine.

Carolyn also used a great feature in Lightroom on one of her photo; when sharpening an image, it can add noise to the image. Lightroom has a ‘noise reduction’ panel that allows you to sharpen your image and offset the noise – ideal!


The best size ratio for Instagram

Carolyn always uses Lightroom CC before uploading her photos to Instagram. Whereas Instagram used to only allow square images, it let’s you add different sizes now, and Carolyn discussed use of 4 x 5 ratio to keep the scale of the imagery.

Julia Smith also posts to Instagram using a 4 x 5 ratio. By setting the ratio as the start of the editing process, it allows her to focus on the elements of the photo that should stand out. The exposure of different colours are usually the last variable that she touches.


A “hidden gem” in Lightroom CC

When editing his photo, Ryan Howard showed how easy it is to use the ‘Grad Filter’, which brings out the edges and detail of certain elements of an image, allowing him to completely change the mood of the photo in a really smart way. This can be combined with the brush tool so that you can filter the background of a picture without affecting the foreground. There’s even an auto-mask in Lightroom that can do it automatically for you!

The Grad Filter - a "hidden gem" in Lightroom CC

One final tip

Ryan also shared a really good tip: if you hold the Alt key while dragging the masking slider in Lightroom, it highlights exactly what is being masked – be it for sharpening, exposure, or anything else. If you were sharpening a face, for example, this makes it really easy to set the level of masking to make the subject’s eyes pop without making their skin look blotchy.




Don’t forget to download a free trial to Lightroom CC and Photoshop CC, so you can start putting your new-found skills to practice.

Remember: any UK charity that has registered on Charity Digital Exchange can access 20% discounts on those products through the Adobe CC Photography Plan.


  • You can view details on the Adobe CC Photography plan here.
  • If you haven’t already, register your charity on Charity Digital Exchange (for free!) here.



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