Adobe Lightroom Quick Start Crash Course Tutorial

Hey all! I put together this 20 minute overview/walkthrough video tutorial to help you get started with editing your photos inside Adobe Lightroom.

In this tutorial I assume nothing and start right at the beginning by showing you Lightroom’s library and importing process and then we dive right into editing photos through the develop module.

I’ve also made available a FREE RAW photo that was taken with my Phantom 4 so that you can follow along. You can download that by clicking here.

What is Lightroom?

Basically it is a super powerful tool that allows you to organize and edit all your photos in one place. If you are shooting in the RAW format then you definitely need to consider adding Lightroom to your workflow because that is where this program really excels.

Topics covered:
– Importing photos
– Library module
– Rating photos
– Develop module
– Spot removal, cropping
– Color temperature, tint, exposure, highlights, shadows, vibrance, saturation, clarity
– Vignette
– Lens profile
– Copy & pasting edits
– Keyboard shortcuts
– Exporting

If you don’t yet have Adobe Lightroom you can buy it here on Amazon or you can pick up a free 30 day trial here.

Download my FREE Lightroom Presets by signing up for my newsletter here.

As always, leave a comment below if you have any questions or ideas for future tutorials and if you liked this video please give it a thumbs up!


Lastly, if you enjoyed the post could you please do me a HUGE favor and share it on social media for me? Just click the big social media icons at the very top or very bottom of this page. This blog is simply a hobby and labor of love and your support helps keep this website going!

Thank you!

Have a question or comment? Feel free to contact me directly at [email protected] or just drop a comment down below.

About this site
Dirk Dallas, also known online as @dirka, is the founder and curator of From Where I Drone, a blog dedicated teaching drone pilots how to capture better aerial photos and videos.


How to make creative edits with adobe lightroom

top 7 apps for drone pilots

Transcript of video:

Hey everyone, this is Dirk with and I have another tutorial for you today, hopefully this will help a lot of you out, I’ve been getting a lot of questions about adobe Lightroom. So I thought I would record a tutorial that kind of walks you through the most important things that you need to know. Now of course, we could talk about light room for a long time but these are the basic things I think you should start working with and slowly move up as you get more advanced, so what I’m going to also do today is give you one of my free files from my phantom 4, so this is a raw file that I will give you, you can download this in the link below and you can follow along and do exactly what I do. First if you don’t have adobe Lightroom, what is adobe Lightroom? Well this is a super powerful tool that you can use to organize and edit your photos, now if you’re using iPhoto to organize and even do some edits, I highly suggest you give Lightroom a chance, this is where all my photos go from my big DSLR camera to all my drones and if you want a free trial 30 days, come to the adobe website and you’re going to click down here, it’s a tiny little link and you’re going to see that it says Photoshop Lightroom, you’re going to click this link right here and then you can go and download it and play with adobe Lightroom for 30 days for free, so really cool. So you may have a question like what’s the difference between Lightroom and Photoshop. Well Lightroom is awesome for organizing and editing raw photos and while Photoshop can do that as well, it’s really best for like kind of one-off photos or maybe a handful but not like a whole card of photos, it’s just not ideal, so I’m using Photoshop these days for like a final finishing touch or to do just really complicated edits. So anyways, let’s just get right into it, so I’m going to open up Lightroom and just real quick, I’m going to bring in two photos and I am going to drag and drop them on the Lightroom icon and it’s basically going to say, do you want to bring these and they have check marks and up here it says, copy as DNG and I do this because I like to convert all my files to the DNG format and I’ll do another video on that later, over here on the right-hand side, I am just going to give it a name, something simple right now like beach drone, the start number will be one and I’ll give it a keyword, so I like to just give it a few key words that I could come back and search at any time so like phantom 4, the drone I used and beach if I’m searching for photos I shot at the beach and then once all that’s done, all I have to do is come over here or actually select where I want to save it, so you know, pick where you want to save it on which drive and then just click import and then what that’s going to do is, that’s going to kick you over to the library and I only have two photos in here because I’m trying to start from scratch since I’m guessing some of you guys are going to be brand new to this but if over time, you start importing a lot of photos, this will be completely filled up with tons of thumbnails. So anyway, let’s just check out the two modules that you need to keep track of, it’s really important that you pay attention to the dialog box up here and if this is hidden, it’s probably because the arrow is clicked and it kind of disappears, so you want to click the arrow right at the top and it will leave it in place. So here I have library and right over here is develop, so I’ll get to this in a second but library is where you see all the photos, it’s where you can rate photos so you can click on a photo and push three and that means that you give it a rating of three out of five, so maybe that means it’s an average photo, you can flag photos by clicking you know down here on the flag. So there’s a whole bunch of different things you can do, what I’m going to just go do those, I’m going to jump right in to develop and you’re going to see, there’s some settings here. These are for like just doing quick little edits when you really want to start to tweak the photo though, select the photo you want to edit and go to develop. Now it’s important to know that any changes that we make on this photo are non-destructive and what that means is that any time you can undo your edit and any of these edits that we’re going to do, do not affect the photo permanently, so it lets you just mess around until, you know, you are done trying new things. So the first thing I’m going to do is I’m going to close these panels because I don’t want to freak you out, I’m going to walk you through these in just a second but really quick below the histogram which is right here, I have some options and this first one is our crop and straighten tool, this next one is our spot removal, the third one over is the red eye, the fourth one over is our graduated filter and the fifth one over here is the radial filter, I did a tutorial on these if you want to go check that out and then our local adjustments tool. So I always go straight to the crop tool and actually like this crop but if you wanted to, you could drag it and choose a new crop, if you hold shift, it will keep it constrained but I actually like this crop so I’m just going to go to reset and put it back how it was but you can see that I actually have kind of a crooked image here, so what I’m going to do is I’m going to click on angle and I’m just going to draw a line like this and let go and you see that it figures out, oh this is how much we need to tilt the image, if you like that, just hit enter and now it punches in a little bit to compensate for that tilt and now the photo and the horizon looks a lot better. So you know once we’re done with that, you can close the box right here, the next thing I’m going to do is I want to get rid of some distracting elements. So I’m going to come over here to the spot removal tool and because I want the focus to be on these surfers, I’m going to get rid of these guys in the water, so I’m going to click and basically paint let go and it says do you want me to take what’s over here and put it here and I’m going to say, yes that’s awesome, so hit enter again and then now those guys are gone, so pretty cool and that’s probably it for up here, so I’m just going to close this panel. And the next thing I’m going to do is come down here to the basic panel and this is pretty cool, this is really where all the magic and the fun happens, now if you’re shooting with a raw file like you can see down here, it says DNG or maybe your says cr2 or something like that, you’re going to have a lot of latitude, you’re going to be able to play with the settings in some really impressive ways, if you’re shooting with just JPEGs, you’re not going to really get to take advantage of Lightroom. So I highly recommend you shoot in raw but basically what I’m going to do is I’m going to kind of run through these settings, so this top one right here is temperature, if I go left with it, it cools the image down, turns blue right, if I go right with it, it warms the image up. So let’s just say for whatever reason I accidentally shot my photo like this and it doesn’t actually look that good, I could play with the temperature setting and try to get it to you know something that looks a lot better and if you want you can play with the presets over here, so if you want the white balance to be set to shade, you know click on shade, this is in the daylight, so you know you select daylight, I’m just going to go back to as shot though because I like this white balance and I said it before I started capturing imagery. The next thing I want to show you is the tint, so if i go left it’s going to start to tint the image green, if I go right obviously I’m going to start to get into you know the Magenta’s, the pinks and if I double click on these settings, they will go back to their default settings, so pretty handy. The next thing is I have exposure, now what exposure does is this actually adjust the mid-tones and does an overall brightness change, so if I go to the left, you see my image starts to get darker, if I go to the right my image gets brighter, so this lets you compensate depending on how you actually shot your image when you’re out flying. So I’m going to leave it maybe just a little bright, not much, what contrast over here does is this adds definition, so if I go to the right, you’re going to see that my light and dark areas become more defined, if I go to the left, you start to see everything kind of becomes a little softer and muted, so I’m actually going to kind of keep it punched up and I can’t give you exact settings for all of these because depending on the image, it’s always going to be different. So you just need to kind of understand these concepts and then adjust them to your liking, alright, this next slider is really where like I think the magic starts to happen, so I have the highlights slider, so if I move this to the right, do you see how my sky starts to get brighter but if i move it to the left, I start to pull back some of these clouds and this is awesome because I want to see the clouds, I don’t want them blown out. Now the whites does the same thing basically, so if I bring it back even further, I get a little bit more, if I start to push it that way, then my white start to blow out and I have a lot of whites up here so that’s kind of why it’s blowing out. And now the shadows does the same thing but what it does is it, as I pull it to the left my shadows get darker, as you pull it to the right your shadows get brighter. So maybe I’ll make my shadows a little darker and the blacks; what that does is obviously it makes the black pixels darker or you can brighten the black pixels. So I’m basically, you know, looking up here at the histogram and I’m seeing you know here my deep pixels, here my bright, excuse me, my deep dark pixels, here are my bright white pixels and then in here are my mid tones, so this is the histogram kind of showing me that. Now if I come down over here, I have the clarity adjustment slider and what this does is this is a pretty interesting tool but people really get carried away with it but it crisp up your images, so if i push it all the way to the right, you can see that you know like all the wave detail starts to really come out and you know even up here in the clouds, if you push it to the left, you start to see your image gets really soft and nasty, so you know why would you need this, well if you’re doing a landscape, maybe you want to have things be pretty crisp then you might want to push it to the right, if you’re may be shooting a portrait of a person, maybe you want to punch a little to the left so that their skin is nice and smooth. Alright I’m going to double-click it and it’s going to reset, I’m going to go over here now to vibrance and these two are very similar but they do have a difference, so what vibrance does is as you punch it to the right, it starts to add saturation to some of the more muted pixels, excuse me, and the difference is, is that what saturation does is it adds intensity to all the colors in the whole entire image. So you know maybe if you wanted to kind of punch up some of, you know, up in here, you know, it’s not very colorful or even in here, it’s not super colorful, my color is really heavy in here, maybe you want to play with the vibrance but you don’t want the overall saturation to get too carried away so you leave it here. So that’s one reason why you might want to play with those two sliders. Alright, so let’s do an before and after, I like to hit the back slash key and that’s before and hit it again and that’s after, you can also hit Y into a side by side and there’s a button for that down here as well and you can go back to normal view and then let’s just say you wanted to see this without any of the distracting panels on the sides, hit tab and you can hit shift tab and it will get rid of the bottom tab as well, so what I’m going to do is I’m actually going to show you how to see it without anything distracting in the way, so I’m going to hit lights out, which is L and one more time hit L and now everything is black, so that is pretty cool. Lastly if you have F, you can go full screen, hit F again and you go back to your edit view, so those are key shortcuts that I always use and I wanted to share them with you. Real quick I’m going to twirl down over here to where it says history and you can see that I have a history of all the edits I just made, so for whatever reason if you wanted to go back to when I was playing with the tint, you know, go click in here in the history and you know, start playing with these settings and you can go back in time essentially. I’m going to just go back to over here because I liked how it was and I’m going to leave it like that. So what we’re doing is you can probably tell, is we’re doing like a top-down approach and this is how you can, you know, not get stressed out, just take one panel at a time, so let’s now collapse this and go to the tone curve, this is to be honest a more advanced tool, basically you can do some of the same adjustments by playing with this curve and clicking and adding points, if you’ve ever heard of an s-curve, that’s where you can make an s-curve, I’m going to just undo that hitting command Z because I don’t want to play with those at the moment. The next thing is our hue saturation and luminance, color, and black and white panel, this basically lets you play with the colors and tweak them around and black and white lets you, you know, get different black and white tones depending on how you play with these sliders and it’s you know mimicking film. So if you go into the blue channel, you know, you affect the black and white, look but we’re not going to play at that so I’m just going to go back to the HSL and close that. If for whatever reason you ever want to like turn off something, like you messed around, like let’s say the tone curve, this will make a little more sense, so let’s say you did like an s-curve and you’re like, I don’t like that, toggle this switch and it turns that off, so you can toggle it on and off, so I’m going to leave it off. Alright so the next thing is split toning, this basically lets you add color to the highlights and you can add color to the shadows, again slightly more advanced tutorial that I might do on this one to help you guys out in the future but not really needed for right now. The next panel we have is the detail and this is where you can sharpen your image, so you can see right now my cursor is set to a magnifying glass, so I’m going to punch in and I have a hand now, I’m going to put this in the center and I’m going to punch up the sharpening, just so you can see how crisp my surfers get and again toggle on and off, you can see it’s a little soft there and then now, it’s crisp but the other thing that happens when you actually sharpen your images, you introduce noise. So if you come over here to the noise reduction, you can go you know, like twenty percent and what it does is, it starts to soften. So I’m going to turn this down because this is way overkill but people tend to stick to like an 80-20 kind of rules, so 80 on the sharpening and you know like a 20 on the noise reduction. Again you know, it depends on the image but right now that seems to look pretty good. So I’m going to click on my image again and zoom out and then see if we can tell before and after and I could do the back slash, or the backspace, the backslash, I’ll get that right in the future, ok. So that’s looking pretty good, the next thing I’m going to do is the lens correction, if you shot with the Phantom or GoPro or the DJI drones have, all profile settings in here, they still don’t have a profile setting for the phantom 4 unfortunately but if you’re shooting with the vision they do and you can see the reverse effect is happening but by default, some cameras give you distortion on the edges, so this is where you would correct that. You can also come over here into the manual setting and you can do that manually with these settings, so this is really handy if you want to fix like a bulge in the center, you know you can fix these here, pretty cool, so I’m just going to toggle that off because I don’t need to do any lens correction right now. And the next thing is the effects, so right here is the slider for the vignette, so if I punch it to the left you start to see my edges get darker and if I punch it to the right they get lighter and start to turn white, so this is really one of those like, be subtle with it, in my opinion, so maybe you just kind of want to make your focus like in the center of the image, so if you toggle this back and forth you see that there’s a little bit of a focus because the edges are vignette. If you wanted to add some grain, lets punch in, maybe have like a film look, you could punch up the grain and you get all those like dots and it starts to look like film. I tend to, you know, not add too much of that to my images. Alright and lastly is camera calibration and this is you know more advanced setting, just leave it to the default settings in my opinion and you will be just fine. Alright so that is how you basically work with all the panels in the develop module. Now what I’m going to do is, I’m going to do a quick reset all and that can be done at the top by going to settings; reset all settings or just do the shortcut command or shift command R and I’m on a mac, so you’re going to have to adjust if you’re on a PC but now I am at my default raw image. So what I’m going to do is show you how quick it is to use one of my free presets which you can download in the link below and I’m going to go over here to Newport and you see right now I just applied an edit to this photo with one click and in my opinion, it’s a little cool, so I’m going to come over here to my white balance and I’m going to just warm it up a little bit and I like that, so I’m going to do the backslash before after and I like that, so I’m going to keep it, so what I would do real quick though is, you know, I’d adjust my horizon and maybe try to bring a little more contrast in and then you know, probably get rid of the guys again and just in a couple clicks, take you to get rid of that. I have a finished edit and I really like this, so let’s say I want to apply this to more photos, I can come over here and choose copy and it says, hey, what do you want to copy? If all of these are checked, it will copy all of these, if none of them are checked and just one thing is checked, it will only copy that one parameter, I’m going to check all of them now except for the spot removal because I just did that right over here and except for the straighten, so hit copy and now go to this next photo and I’m going to hit paste and it will apply that same edit right to this photo. So now all I need to do is basically just straighten it, real quick, hit return and this image is good to go. So let’s say we wanted to export these, I will select both of these by hitting shift and clicking, now I’ve selected two images, I’m going to come up here to file and go to export and then what I’m going to do is make sure it says export to hard drive and I’m going to make sure that I come over here to file settings and want to make sure it’s as a jpeg because I want to post it online and I keep the quality at 93, an opinion on where you want to post it, you know if you’re going to post on tumblr, then maybe you know like 1200 for, you know, the long edge is fine, I mean this really depends on what you want or just uncheck it and it’ll do a full res export and if you want, you can remove the location data but if you want to geo-tag some photo on Instagram then make sure this is unchecked, if you’ve set up watermarks, then you can click that and then hit export and it’s going to say, where you want to do that, so I’ll make a new folder inside of here and put JPEGs and open and up here, you can see it’s processing these two photos that will pop up a new dialog in the finder for me and I can see that I have my edited photos and I can now go and post these. Alright so that is it, I hope that was helpful to you guys, if you want more tips, check out my other tutorials on or my YouTube channel, please leave a comment or give me a thumbs up, I love to hear if these are helpful to you guys, if you have any other questions please let me know in the comments below, be sure to download that raw photo, play around with it, have some fun, if you happen to do a cool edit on it, you know, send it over, I’d love to see it, thanks for watching guys and I will see you guys next time.


11 Comments on “Adobe Lightroom Quick Start Crash Course Tutorial

  1. Hi theгe, I ԝish fߋr toߋ subscribe for this webpage tօ oЬtain most up-to-dаte updates, thus where can i do іt pⅼease assist.

  2. Great video! Just edited my first drone photo from my DJI P3A using this tutorial. Keep it up!

  3. Just watched your lightroom video. Learned something new with the spot removal tool. I did not know you can just drag the circle over things you dont want. I thought it was just one spot and click to another. But great video tutorial Dirk!

  4. Pingback: How to create an aerial panorama with a drone using Adobe Lightroom

  5. Pingback: 10 Useful Tools For Editing Your Drone Photos On Your Computer -

Leave a Reply