Thursday, May 9, 2013

Guest Post--Lightroom Workflow From Olivia Fulmer

Today you are in for a treat.  We have a guest post from Olivia Fulmer of OliviaIrene Photography.  Olivia, is going to walk you through a workflow using Lightroom.  You will see how she edits a beautiful still life image from start to finish.  If you have been thinking about using Lightroom or are already a fan, this is a great tutorial that shows you the power of this editing tool.  Thank you so much Olivia for putting this post together for us, I certainly learned a trick or two!

A Lightroom Workflow

l began using Lightroom when it appeared in beta form. Or rather I experimented with it in beta form, but didn’t start using it until LR 2 came out. Since then, it has become a regular part of my workflow. However, I did not have the patience, nor the mentors to really dig into LR to learn its secrets.

Today, I’m going to share a little bit of my workflow using LR 4.

I use LR to import images from my CF card to the computer. This is an expanded Import screen, but essentially, I choose the source and the destination:

I’ve begun important my files as dng (digital negative) files, and it does take a long time if there are a lot of photos. You can also leave the files in camera raw format as well.

Now that the images are in the LR catalog, the fun with LR begins.

This image is pretty much SOOC (straight out of the camera); the only addition is the watermark. I use the Develop Module of LR to begin.

First I check the histogram. In this case, I did pretty well in-camera! The two triangles at the ends of the histogram will indicate where there is some clipping in the shadows, blacks, highlights, or midtones, as well as in the RGB color channels.

Because there is nothing at the right side of the histogram, I may want to pull the histogram to the right some more to see what happens. The image does seem “brighten” a little, and there is no clipping, so I’ll leave it alone, but as you can see from the image below (histogram 2), there is a “well” in the middle of the histogram; the darks and lights have more data than the midtones.

Histogram 2

I’m going to play a little with midtones by scrubbing the mouse in the middle of the histogram. I want to try to even out the tones. I pulled the shadows to the right, making sure that the triangle on the left stayed black. Then I pulled the highlights to the right, making sure that the triangle to the right stayed black. I’m still not quite sure this is what I want, so I’m going to play in the middle with the exposure. I try to keep the triangles black, and just adjust until it “looks right” to me.

My next step is to play with eye dropper and see if I can get my whites whiter without lightening the image too much. The daisies are white, as is the background behind the flowers. I chose to use the flowers to set my white balance.

Right now, I’m pretty satisfied with my basic edits. I made a few adjustments to clarity (which acts something like sharpening and contrast combined), vibrance, and saturation.

My next edit comes from David du Chemin. I admit that curves baffle me, so anything that makes curves easier to use suits me. One of du Chemin’s first edits it to change the point curve preset to medium contrast. Usually this is enough for me!

Next I often click the Enable Profile Corrections under the Lens Corrections section. And next I’ll just click through the Camera Calibration Profiles.  For this image, I thought Camera Faithful looked best to me, so I’m choosing it.

There, I’m finished with my Lightroom Edits.

Before                                                      After                                                                  

The workflow is simple:

1. Begin with the histogram, and either scrub the mouse over the various regions (blacks, shadows, exposure, highlights, whites), or use the corresponding sliders.

2. Adjust the white balance, either using the eye dropper to choose a neutral (18% gray) or white area, or by using one of the White Balance presets.

3. Play with the curves adjustments, either by using the graph or by choosing a Point Curve present.

4. Adjust for Lens Correction.

5. Select a Camera Calibration preset.

You can also crop in LR and use other creative presets, but I think my workflow gives you a pretty clean edit.

From here, I will import into CS6 for additional edits and enhancements, possible adding some texture or text.

I’d love to see some of your edits using LR as well.


  1. Olivia, I could learn a lot from you on the editing side of things!

  2. Melissa, it's a lot of trial and error for me. What would you be interested in learning? I'm trying to get my regular blog ( up and running to feature regular editing tutorials.

  3. Thanks Olivia (and also to Moms Who Click for inviting Olivia here). I'm new to Lightroom. Although I've taken other on-line classes, it always help to hear it said in yet another way...eventually one or another just makes it 'click' for pun intended.

  4. Thanks so much Olivia for sharing your tips. Very clear and easy to follow. I am a new LR user and am still in the de-mystifying process....
    Thank you!!


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