Using Essential Adjustments in Adobe Lightroom CC

Have you wondered how the pros create beautifully edited pictures?

Here’s one of the secrets to editing in Adobe Lightroom CC. It’s not only about having the exposure, contrast, white balance, and saturation globally adjusted, it is also about correctly adjusting key parts of the image. Individually adjusting certain areas of an image can lead to more definition, detail, vibrancy, and clarity in your picture.

My go to tools for this image fine-tuning are in the selective adjustment panel in Adobe Lightroom CC. The selective adjustment panel is located in the Develop module above the “Basic” panel.

If you click on one of the selective tools you will see the basic adjustment panel. My favorite tools are the graduated filter, the radial filter and the adjustment brush. Depending on the areas you would like to adjust, select the appropriate tool.

In the photo to the right, the basic adjustments of exposure, contrast, vibrance and saturation have been made. There needs to be more detail and drama to the sky, and this can be done by using the graduated adjustment tool. If you would like to increase or decrease exposure in a particular area, use the radial filter, and to fine tune smaller areas, use the adjustment brush.

To enhance the sky, use the graduated adjustment filter and pull it down from the top of the image to just below the horizon line. Tick the box “show selected mask overlay” so the red mask shows the area being affected by the adjustment. Then make your adjustments in the sky adding perhaps saturation, clarity and exposure.

Then, if there are other areas of the image that need enhancing, add selected masks with the radial filter. In this image, I added a mask to the ocean and a couple of masks to the coastline as shown below. Then I made adjustments to my liking depending on the areas that needed the most attention. I mostly added exposure, saturation, and clarity to pop out the details.

Once you are happy with your selected results, the last thing to do as add sharpening and your watermark and your done!

If you would like some help with your photographic vision, join us at Jansen Photo Expeditions for one of our private or group workshops in California, Oregon, Wyoming, Iceland, or the destination of your choice.

You will have an enriching learning experience and go home with a camera full of prized photographs.

Did you like the subject of this article? Consider these blogs as well!

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Holly Higbee-Jansen is photographer, trainer, blogger, and workshop leader who enjoys teaching and the creative process. Her passions include teaching photography workshops in beautiful locations in California, Iceland, Costa Rica and the American West with her husband Mark. Holly also teaches online classes on Lightroom, Photoshop and photographic technique. Get Holly's Free E-Book on "Landscape Photography and the Light" and find out about her newest workshops at


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Jansen Photo Expeditions
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