The Lightroom Develop Module (Mastering Lightroom in 7 Days)

Lightroom Develop Module

The Lightroom Develop Module

(Day 4 of Mastering Lightroom in 7 Days)

The Lightroom Develop Module is where you will be developing (editing) your photos and is the most exciting place to hang out in Lightroom!  There are so many options for editing your photos in this module and when you are finished here your photos will look fabulous!

There is lots to know about the Develop Module, so let's dig in and get you oriented!

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1. Navigator Panel

We covered this in the last lesson, but as a review, this is where you will see a preview of your image.  As you use the zoom tools above this small view of your photo, a rectangle will appear and you can drag it around to decide what you see in the main image area of the Develop module.

This is also where you can see a preview of any presets you want to apply.  Just hover over the preset name and a preview will appear in the Navigator.

Lightroom Develop Module Tutorial

2. Presets Panel

This is where Lightroom will store all the presets that you install as well as any that you make.  If you don't see the individual preset names, you may need to open a preset collection using the disclosure triangle to the left of the preset collection's name.  The disclosure triangle will be pointing down when its open.

Remember, to see a preview of the preset in the Navigator area before you apply it, just hover over the preset you want to see.  If you want to apply the preset, just click on it.

How to enable develop module in Lightroom

3. Snapshots Panel

Lightroom allows you to take a Snapshot of your photo at any given point while editing.  Click on the “+” on the Snapshot Panel to add a Snapshot.

Snapshots is a great feature.  For example, let’s say you edit your photo using one preset but want to apply another preset to see how it looks.  Just take a Snapshot of version and then you can go back and forth to decide which you like.

Lightroom 6 develop module

4. History Panel

Lightroom’s History Panel keeps a record of everything you do to your photo from the time you import it into Lightroom.  This is one of the main reasons I choose to use Lightroom over other editing software.

Using the History Panel, you can go back to any point in your history and start from there or go all the way back to the beginning and start over.

And when you exit Lightroom, your history won’t go away.  It will still be there the next time you open Lightroom and will still be there 5 years from now if you need it!

Lightroom CC Develop Module

5. Collections Panel

You will notice that the Collections Panel is available in the Develop Module just like it was in the Library Module.  In fact, the Collections Panel is available in every module and will look the same throughout all the Modules.  

However, you will notice that you won’t have access to your Folders in the Develop Module.  This should help you understand why creating collections is so valuable and time-saving.

For example, if I finish editing one session and want to move on to another, as long as I have already created a collection for the next session, I won't have to leave the Develop Module.  If I haven’t created a collection, I will need to navigate back to the Library Module find that folder of images and then come back.

Lightroom 5 Develop Module

6. Toolbar

The Develop Module Toolbar is located in the same place as the one in the Library Module, but will have different tools available.  

The tools I like to have available in the Develop Module Toolbar are:

  • Before/After Tool (shown by two Y’s in boxes - click the arrow next to the boxes for different ways to view your before/after).
  • Flag Tool (allows you to flag favorite images).
  • Rating Tool (allows you to rate your images using stars).
  • Zoom Tool (gives you a handy slider for zooming in at varying amounts).
  • Soft Proofing Tool (the way you can view your photos the way your lab will see them.)

Lightroom Develop

7. Histogram Panel

The Histogram Panel will give you loads of information about your photo.  The histogram is a graph of the different tones in your image.  The darker tones are graphed on the left and the brighter tones are graphed on the right.

One of my favorite things you can do is view the RGB color values of any area of the photo that you hover over.  This can help you edit skin tones and proof your photos.  You can also make adjustments to your photo by clicking and dragging directly on the histogram.

Lightroom Develop Module

8. Local Adjustment Tools

Local Adjustment Tools that will allow you to make adjustments to small/local areas of your photo.  These tools include (from right to left)

Clicking on any of these tools will open a new panel giving you options for using it. For the Brush, Radial Filter, and Graduated Filter those panels will look similar to the Basic Panel.

Lightroom develop module tutorial

9. Basic Panel

The basic panel will be your MOST used panel when making adjustments to your photo.  This is where you will adjust your white balance, exposure, contrast, shadows/highlights, clarity, and saturation.

Moving any of these sliders to the right will increase the value and moving them to the left will decrease the value.

The dropper at the top-left of the panel gives you the option of adjusting your white balance by clicking the dropper over different areas of your photo.  This will work best if you choose a neutral area of your photo.  I typically look for a gray tone to click on.

Develop Module Lightroom

10. Other Panels

I won’t go into depth with each of the other panels or this post will get way too long, but I will provide a brief description of them and you can click on the links to read more.

How to use the develop module

  • Tone Curve Panel: Adjust your photos contrast, highlights, shadows using a curve similar to the one found in Photoshop.  If you don’t feel comfortable adjusting the tone curve, you can use the some of the presets found in the Point Curve section.
  • HSL/Color/B&W Panel: HSL stands for Hue, Saturation, and Luminance.  Essentially, you can make adjustments to the colors in your photo using this panel.  You can also use this panel to completely remove all color and create a black and white photo.
  • Split Toning Panel: The Split Toning Panel is where you can add a little color to to the highlights and shadows of your image.
  • Detail Panel: This is the panel you will use to sharpen your photo and where you can reduce the noise in your photo that can occur when using a high ISO.
  • Effects Panel: This is the panel that I use to add a vignette to my photos by dragging the amount and midpoint slightly to the left (to create a dark vignette) or to the right (to create a light vignette).  You can also use this panel to add grain to your photo.
  • Camera Calibration Panel: This is where you can change the Camera Profile and the Process Version.

11. Previous/Reset Buttons

The Previous and Reset Buttons are found at the bottom of the right-side panels in the Develop module.

The Previous Button allows you to apply all the same settings you applied to the last photo you developed - super simple and easy!  It will also apply any crop, brushes, or filters you applied, although you may need to adjust edits separately for each photo.

The Reset Button will reset your image back to the Lightroom default settings. This is a quick way to start over!

How to Enable Develop Module in Lightroom

Congratulations! You have just completed Day 4 of Mastering Lightroom!

But Don't Stop Now!

Make sure to read the rest of our series to help you Master Lightroom.  If you’ve missed any of the posts, you can read/review them at any time by clicking these links!

Day 1. The Lightroom Catalog

Day 2. Lightroom Import

Day 3. Lightroom Library Module

Day 5. Basic Lightroom Editing Workflow

Day 6. How to Use Lightroom Presets

Day 7. Lightroom Export and Everything Else

Do you have any questions or comments about the Lightroom Develop Module?  Just leave us a comment below - we would LOVE to hear from you.  And PLEASE SHARE this post using the social sharing buttons (we really appreciate it)!

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