I am quite drawn to bright, vivid, colorful photos.

I think of children and their love of color and wonder. They are naturally bright and happy and I love to portray that in my photos (since I mostly photograph children).

Ninety-nine percent of my workflow is done in Lightroom, so I’ll show you how I edit a photo, step by step in Lightroom (5.6).

This is my fun, goofy daughter.  I chose this photo because presently it’s grey and sad outside and this photo reminds me of the warmth and color of summer. This was taken about 4pm in September, so not exactly golden hour but one of my favorite times to shoot regardless.

A before and after clean edit in Lightroom by Carly Bingham

I always edit top to bottom, meaning I edit exactly how one would intuitively edit in Lightroom; scrolling down the panels one by one.   First step is exposure.  She is quite dark.  I purposely underexposed in this photo to retain the blue of the sky, knowing I could brighten her face later. For now though an overall exposure of +1.07 looks good to me.  For the record this is by no means an exact recipe of every shot.  I edit each photo differently due to different lighting circumstances, but this is good ‘generalized’ editing process in my photography.

  • +21 contrast-Contrast is a tricky beast and one not to mess with heavily.  Too much and it will make skin look brassy and too saturated, too little and your photograph will lack depth and ‘punch.’
  • Shadows, whites and blacks are kind of a free for all.  I adjust very lightly.
  • -12 shadows
  • +14 whites
  • -17 blacks
  • +12 clarity- I love the clarity tool.  It will give your pictures a ‘pop’ when used with a light hand.
  • +17 vibrance- I LOVE vibrance and I’m not afraid to use it.  It brings out the beautiful colors of photo so wonderfully.
  • +7 saturation-Vibrance’s little sister.  Not too much or your photos will start looking fake (and bright orange skin to boot.)

A before and after clean edit in Lightroom by Carly Bingham

Next up is the HSL PANEL (Hue, Saturation and Luminance). These can be powerful sliders and again, use with a light hand. I almost always increase orange luminance with Caucasian skintones. It brightens the skin without brightening any other part of the photograph. Pretty nifty huh?

  • +20 orange Luminance
  • -18 yellow Luminance-the yellow highlights are very strong in this photograph so I decreased Luminance to tone it down.

A before and after clean edit in Lightroom by Carly Bingham

Next is SHARPENING.  I like my photos sharpened at 46.  Not rhyme or reason to that number, just a good point in the level of clarity for my personal taste.

A before and after clean edit in Lightroom by Carly Bingham

Down at the very bottom are the RED, GREEN AND BLUE PRIMARY SLIDERS I only use the blue, especially when enhancing a backlit photograph.

  • -5 blue Primary Saturation-give it more of a late summer feel.
  • +14 Blue Primary Saturation-giving an added boost of vibrance unique to this slider.

A before and after clean edit in Lightroom by Carly Bingham

The TONE CURVE PANEL is something I tend not to play around with too much in these types of photos.  I utilize this panel much more in a black and white photograph. But today I adjusted the lights and shadows only slightly.

A before and after clean edit in Lightroom by Carly Bingham

Lastly I use the adjustment brush tool on the far right to bring back the blue of the sky.

A before and after clean edit in Lightroom by Carly Bingham

I paint over the sky and decrease exposure by -0.51: just enough to pull in the color.  I then decrease the highlights slightly and increase saturation.

A before and after clean edit in Lightroom by Carly Bingham

I hope this helps someone in their editing journey.  Remember, in most circumstances, LESS is MORE!

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