How to Edit Photos for a Natural Look in Lightroom

We spend quite a bit of time studying how to perform more extreme edits, and while those techniques certainly come in handy quite a lot of the time, knowing how to create a simple, clean, natural-looking image is an important skill. Whether you're a beginner or more experienced, this great video will show you how to easily get that look in Lightroom.

Coming to you from Evan Ranft, this great video will show you how to create natural-looking edits for your images using only Lightroom. While modern digital cameras have loads of dynamic range and can stand up to some pretty extreme editing, we don't always have to push things to the absolute extreme, and often, a more subtle approach can be way more tasteful and desirable. One of the most important steps before you even begin editing is to really nail that exposure in camera. When you get the exposure dialed in correctly, you won't need to make extreme adjustments in Lightroom, and the file won't show any hints of you having done so, making it far easier to dial in a natural, organic look to the photo. Check out the video above for the full rundown of the technique, and remember that once you've done this, you can save your settings as a preset and easily apply them on import to lend your portfolio more consistency and make your post-processing workflow more efficient. 

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6 Comments

Greg Wilson's picture

Before was more natural indeed.

Sure, if you have vision problems. See an ophthalmologist soon!

Well worth watching. I learned a few things here, and was reminded of some things I once knew but had forgotten. I always appreciate these "back to basics" videos which show how to use Lightroom without resorting to plugins.

My god, where does Fstoppers find this stuff. I teach Lightroom and this made me dizzy with all this hacking and hauling and back and forth. Why adjust saturation before hue? Why start in the Tone panel instead of Basic? Why mess with the color calibration. If I were first starting out in Lightroom and saw this, I'd switch back to film and send my photos to Fotomat. Any why use such a bad photo as the basis for an instruction video? Editing a photo without someone's face in the photo?

Have you tried auto tone? Adobe fixed it a few days ago and it no longer dials in negative contrast. It's a great starting point, especially if you don't know what you are doing....

What's the idea behind publishing this kind of stuff? I'm not blaming the photographer for creating this video but come on guys... Pfff...

Leon Hascal's picture

Why would you change your photo to clip the highlights and shadows? He could sell that standard s curve, misapplied, as a preset that would work on any photo?

Oh I got further in the video now, so, we should adjust the curve to make the highlights and shadows clip and then use other tools to undo it. Then at the very end, if you want, you can just drop the contrast slider and mess it all up.

This is really something. I think the image looked much more natural before all the artificial alterations were made but maybe thats just me.