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Week 1 of 4: Learning about your Library and Develop Module

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So you just got Lightroom! Yay for you! It is one of my favorite programs so I'll gladly introduce you to an awesome tool that is fairly simple and destined to save you so much time! Today we are going to get familiar with the layout of Lightroom--specifically the Library and Develop Modules!

But before we start our tour, I just have to ask one question: Have you updated to the most current version of Lightroom 3? Adobe comes out with updates periodically to add functionality of new cameras and to fix little bugs and glitches that are found. Make sure you check and make sure you have the most current version. (Lightroom should remind you to do this, too!)

The next thing you need to do is to familiarize yourself with what you see in the window. In the upper right you'll see the words "Import," "Develop," "Slideshow," "Print," and "Web." These are the different areas (or Modules) in Lightroom that you can work. Most all the modules will have a similar layout, but the tools will change with each module.

On the right and left-hand side you'll see panels. These are where you will find most of the tools in Lightroom and how you will navigate around your photos. On the bottom, you'll see a filmstrip of all the photos in the folder you have selected as well. This is also used for navigation. We'll start in the Library Module.

Library Module Tour

The Left Panel is used to navigate through the folders and hard drives on your computer. You can also navigate through collections of photos you have made. This is also where you'll publish photos to Facebook, Flickr, or other sites that have Publish services available through Lightroom. If there is a place that you like to share your photos, check to see if they have a Lightroom Export Plugin. You can also check the Adobe site to find more!

In the Library Module's right panel, you can apply Quick Develop settings, add Keywords (keywords make photos easier to find) to your photos or group of photos, and check your Metadata (you know--for the person who wants to know which lens or settings you used!) Don't confuse Quick Develop with the Develop Module. Quick Develop allows you to make "quick" changes, but for most of your photos, you'll want to use the Develop Module to process your photos. We'll talk about that in a second!

Before we leave the Library Module, let's talk about the Filter Bar at the top of the middle panel. This is a great tool for helping you sort or find photos. You can use it to find photos from within a folder, collection or your entire catalog of photos. You can have the Filter find all the photos with certain text in the title or folder. You can have the Filter find files with a certain attribute that you assigned (i.e. stars, flags, or color.) You can have the Filter sort through your photos based on any Metadata information the file may have. Say, for instance, that you want the filter to find all the images you have taken using a certain camera body and lens combination. Or maybe you want it to find all the photos you have taken at a certain focal length. Lightroom has some Metadata columns set by default but you can change these to whatever you want them to be by clicking on the column title. You can even add or remove columns!

Develop Module Tour

Now let's move over to the Develop Module and take a look around. This place should look about the same as the Library Module. The biggest difference is there is no option for a grid view--you just see one photo at a time.

In the Left side panel you have a spot for your Pretty Presets (once you have them installed) and other presets you make or purchase. You'll also see your History. This history is a list of all the changes you apply to a photo and it is there for the life of the photo. If you come back to a photo two years later, the history will still be there. You can go back to any part of the history by just clicking on the step you'd like to start from. You'll also see access to your collections and snapshots in this panel.

In the Right side panel, you'll find all the options for developing your photos.

• The Basic Panel has the tools for adjusting your photo's white balance, color saturation, and contrast.

• The Tone Curve and HSL/Color/B& W will help you fine tune your color and contrast.

• The Detail panel helps you adjust sharpness and reduce noise.

• The Lens Corrections panel helps you adjust for any distortion caused by the camera lens.

• The Effects panel is where you apply a vignette to a cropped photo.

• The Camera Callibration panel makes adjustments to the default calibration settings for your camera.

Also on the Right side panel is the tool strip that allows you to make local changes to your photos.

• The Crop Overlay is where you'll crop and straighten your photos.

• The Spot Removal Tool has Clone and Heal options for removing spots in your images.

• The Red Eye Tool pretty much does what it says--helps remove red eye!

• The Graduated Filter allows you to gradually apply any adjustment you make with the sliders. It works great for adding more color and saturation to skies.

• The Adjustment Brush allows you to brush on exposure, brightness, saturation, and other adjustments to specific areas of your photo.

Helpful Tips:

Solo Mode: In the side panels it is easy to get lost of all of your panels are open at the same time. On a smaller screen, like a laptop, this is an even bigger issue. You can turn on Solo Mode so that only one panel will be open at a time. To do this, right-click on the panel title and choose "Solo Mode" from the drop-down menu. (i.e. right-click on the word "Basic" when you are in the right-hand panel in the Develop module)

Catalog Settings: One thing you'll want to make sure Lightroom is doing is automatically writing the changes you make to the file (or an .xmp file.) This ensures that the changes you make are always automatically saved. To turn this setting on go to Edit>Catalog Settings>Metadata and make sure that the "Automatically Write Changes to XMP" box is checked. The path may be different for MAC users.

Hope this has taught you something new and helped you feel more familiar with the layout of Lightroom!


Hi!! I am Gayle. I am a wife to my handsome husband and mom to 4 beautiful kids. In my spare time, I am a photographer and blogger at Mom and Camera. I have a passion for sharing my love of photography with others. I teach local photography classes and regularly share photography tips and tricks on my blog. I hang out there a lot—I’d love you to stop by and visit!

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