I recently had to do some rough photo adjustments on a computer that only had an older version of Lighroom installed on it (Lightroom 3).
WOW – I had no idea how much I rely on some of the pretty fundamental tools available in Lightroom CC that were either not available or were not that good in previous versions.
So here is my list of the five most under-appreciated tools in Lightroom CC, and how I use them.
The Spot Removal Tool
Removing logos is one of the most tedious and time consuming tasks I do on a daily basis (if anyone knows where I can buy good looking running shoes that are not branded to hell – let me know).
Remember when the Spot Removal Tool was a circle – and it was really only good for removing spots? Now I can do everything except the most complicated removals right in Lightroom CC – which really speeds up my workflow.
And while we’re talking about removing spots – the Visualize Spots tool in Lightroom CC is a lifesaver for finding and removing sensor dust spots.
To use the Visualize Spots tool – select the Spot Removal Tool, then click the little Visualize Spots check box in the bottom right corner. This will bring up the Visualize Spots mask, allowing you to see where all those little bits of sensor dust are (especially helpful if you’re in the middle of a windy desert). You can now remove them with the Spot Removal tool. When you’re done, un-click the Visualize Spots tool and check to make sure your spot removals sampled the right areas and look good.
OK, Lightroom 3 did have noise reduction – it just didn’t work that well. In fact, Photoshop’s noise reduction tools that were available at the time weren’t that much better – which led to a whole niche industry of specialized noise reduction plugins (I still use Topaz DeNoise for the most stubborn noise reduction).
Lightroom CC’s current noise reduction tools are much much better than they were in Lightroom 3, and along with the images produced by modern cameras I find I rarely need to leave Lightroom – even for heavy noise reduction.
For heavy noise reduction you have to start with a RAW file. From there, select an area with a typical level of noise for a 1:1 preview and increase the Luminance noise reduction slider until you see the noise mostly smoothed out – then back it off a touch. If your image is looking a little too smooth, you can try increasing the Detail and Contrast Sliders. With RAW files, I rarely touch the Color noise reduction sliders.
Chromatic Aberration Removal
Another tool that was technically available in Lightroom 3 that didn’t work very well.
I am always amazed that even with modern high end glass how often chromatic aberration is a serious problem in my images (the problem is even worse for underwater photography).
Fortunately, Lightroom CC has very effective tools for removing chromatic aberration.
Basically, if you are photographing something with a bright background, you should look around the edges of well defined objects in your photo for chromatic aberration (magenta, purple, green or cyan fringing). To remove it – start with the Lens Correction panel, click on the Basic tab and select the check boxes for both Enable Profile Corrections and Remove Chromatic Aberration.
Personally, if I do have a problem with chromatic aberration, I don’t find that this does much to get rid of it – but its worth starting here.
If that doesn’t do the trick, zoom into an area with the worst chromatic aberration at 1:1, go to the Color tab and use the eyedropper tool to select a representative area of the color fringe. This usually takes care of the problem – but occasionally you will have to adjust the sliders as well.
I love the perspective correction tools in Lightroom CC.
Previously, I would have had to go to Photoshop to fix perspective and straighten and level my images with strong horizontal and vertical lines. The perspective crop tools in Photoshop work well, but doing the same thing right inside of Lightroom CC is so much easier and faster.
The perspective correction tool (Upright) is also under the Lens Corrections panel. I find that the Auto setting usually works the best – it applies enough perspective correction to fix any obvious slanted lines, but not too much that the entire image is distorted.
If I am working on an architectural image, I do occasionally use the Full setting – but in most cases I find this to be too much.
The Entire Basic Panel – FTW!
While we’re at it, I just want to note how awesome the current Lightroom CC Basic adjustment tools are, compared to those available in Lightroom 3. In particular, the Highlights and Shadows sliders are so much more sophisticated and useful than the old Recovery and Fill Light sliders.
What Are Your Favorite Tools In Lightroom?
Leave a comment below and let us know what your favorite tools are in Lightroom!