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Getting Great Editing Results in Lightroom – Master the Basic Panel

The most important step to getting the most out of your photos with Lightroom is to master Lightroom’s Basic panel. In the 20 minute video below I go through several examples to teach you all aspects of this most important panel in the Develop module. This video is one of the 76 in my Lightroom CC/6 and 5: The Fundamentals & Beyond video series. With the purchase of this series you receive all the photos I use in this video and in all of the photo editing videos.

UPDATE OCT. 2017: While this is for the newly renamed “Lightroom Classic” program that has modules (Library, Develop, Map, etc.), it is also applicable to the new cloud-based “Lightroom CC” program – the sliders in this program are in a different order, but do the same things, and I recommend the same workflow.

For best quality, after hitting Play, click on the sprocket wheel in the bottom right of the video and choose 720/HD. (Purchased videos are larger and of higher quality.)

2019-01-01T14:46:51+00:00May 1st, 2016|11 Comments


  1. Ron Dunstan May 1, 2016 at 5:52 pm - Reply

    Thanks Laura, really informative relearn for me. Appreciate it. With regard to your April Fool’s Joke – We in Australia received it on April 2 (so I thought it was real)(No I didn’t just thought you would want to be time-zone sensitive next year.) LoL

    • Laura Shoe May 1, 2016 at 6:12 pm - Reply

      You’re welcome, Ron. I was aware that I was late for all of you down-under, since April 1 crept up on me, but the show had to go on! 🙂

  2. Warwick Selby May 2, 2016 at 8:39 pm - Reply

    Thanks Laura. I notice that you often pulled the slider all the way to the limit. Is there any downside to doing this? Does this increase noise in the photo that should be corrected as well.

    • Laura Shoe May 3, 2016 at 9:08 pm - Reply

      Hi Warwick,

      I don’t usually max out the sliders as much as I did in this video – these particular photos needed a lot of work (which makes them great teaching examples because I can use just about every slider). When a photo needs it though I don’t hesitate to max out one or more sliders. I do watch for some issues:

      – revealing noise (not creating it): brightening up dark shadows will reveal noise that otherwise is hidden in the dark. In this case I would follow up with noise reduction as you suggest. In the balcony shot there is a fair amount of noise throughout the photo because it was so underexposed, and there is a ton in the end of the wicker sofa (the darkest part of the photo). I would do global noise reduction with the controls in the Detail panel, and then local noise reduction with the adjustment brush to remove more in the wicker. The wicker end also has pink blobs of color – that can be addressed with the Smoothness slider in the Detail panel. Darkening and intensifying a blue sky can also reveal noise, as the blue channel is the poorest quality (of Red, Green and Blue that make up the photo).
      – blowing out highlights (white with no detail) – I check the histogram to make sure that I am not inadvertently blowing these out
      – blocking up shadows (black with no detail) – same
      – blowing out individual colors – increasing saturation too much can lead to areas of solid color (loss of detail)
      – creating harsh shadows along edges with the old version of Clarity (Lightroom 3 and earlier); the Lightroom 4+ version is much, much better
      – introducing banding – extreme adjustments can lead to banding, where the otherwise smooth gradations of color and tone (think of a blue sky that gradually becomes darker or bluer from one part of the photo to another) become discrete bands – this is much more likely when working on a JPEG than on a raw file. Extreme work on a JPEG can also lead to color blotchiness.

      The most important things you can do prevent some of these issues are to shoot in raw rather than JPEG, expose as far to the right as possible without blowing out important highlights, and then in post-processing, keeping an eye on your histogram and reviewing all areas of your photo.

      Ugh – my quick answer turned into a blog post! Some day I’ll come back and illustrate these in an official post.

      • Warwick Selby May 3, 2016 at 11:05 pm - Reply

        Thanks. That helps a lot and makes it very clear.

      • Clare Colins January 3, 2017 at 4:15 pm - Reply

        Thank you so much Laura for your great response to Warwick’s question. I enjoyed following along too.

        • Laura Shoe January 5, 2017 at 7:22 pm - Reply

          You’re welcome, Clare!

  3. Jeff H. May 3, 2016 at 6:20 pm - Reply

    Thanks Laura, for a great overview of the Basic panel. I’ve been using LR since Ver. 4, but still learn something new every time I let the experts explain. Your videos are very informative and well produced, and I like how you pick topics about the software that others miss. Lastly, how refreshing to see an expert working in the Windows environment! I have cohorts who swear using LR on a Mac results in better images that under Windows, but clearly your work puts that myth to shame. Keep up the great work.

    • Laura Shoe May 3, 2016 at 8:43 pm - Reply

      You’re welcome, Jeff, and thank you for your wonderful note. I’m sorry to tell you this, but I did switch from PC to Mac! However, it wasn’t because one is better for photography or for Lightroom than the other – for this they are exactly the same (unless somehow using the Cmd key for a shortcut rather than Ctl makes one’s images better! 🙂

  4. Monroe Elkin August 7, 2016 at 9:21 am - Reply

    Is there a function that will make photos look like paintings

  5. Clare Colins January 3, 2017 at 4:12 pm - Reply

    Thanks again Laura,
    I’ve watched this before but to watch again has added another little spark to my editing.
    All the very best for 2017

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