4 Easy Lightroom Photo Editing Techniques For Beginners

Inside: Learn 4 simple Lightroom photo editing techniques that will transform your photos.  This post may contain affiliate links.

Photo Editing Techniques for New Photographers

New photographers get intimidated by the idea of editing their photos.

I remember looking at all the options in Lightroom and feeling overwhelmed when I was new to photography.

But it doesn’t have to be hard.

You can keep your edits simple, and small adjustments can make a BIG impact!

Check out these 4 simple photo editing techniques you can use right away to improve your photos:

1. Fix Your Horizon

Are you a crooked shooter?  Don’t feel bad, it happens to all of us.

But a crooked horizon line needs to be straightened, and there’s a simple fix.

lightroom photo editing techniques

Inside the Lightroom’s Develop Module, click the crop tool, then click “Auto.” Lightroom will straighten your horizon line for you! Click “Done” to accept the crop.

You can also manually adjust the angle using the Angle slider.

photo editing tips for beginners

Ahh, much better!

2. Improve Your Composition

One of the photo editing techniques that can make the biggest impact is cropping your photo to improve it’s composition.

I recommend using the rule of thirds grid available within the crop function in Lightroom to guide you.

•Click on the crop tool inside the develop module in Lightroom

•Drag the corner of the image until your subject is intersected by one of the rule of thirds lines.

•Hit DONE!

white balance examples

For an even more interesting composition try to crop your image so it consists of 1/3 ground and 2/3 sky (or the other way around).

photo editing tips for beginners

Pro Tip: Hit “O” on your keyboard to scroll through various crop guides.

Related: Basic Photo Editing Tips

3. Adjust Your Color

One of the photo editing techniques every beginner should know is how to correct your photo’s color – also known as white balance.

Lightroom has a simple tool called the white balance dropper.

You’ll find the white balance dropper in the Develop Module under the “Basic” dropdown menu.

Or, you can hit “W” on your keyboard to activate the white balance dropper.

You can use it to click on any area of the image that is or should be white or “neutral” gray. 

Neutral gray is halfway between black and white.

When you hover the white balance dropper over an area that should be neutral gray, you’ll see a grid come up that says “pick a target neutral,” and some numbers for Red, Green and Blue (RGB) at the bottom.

A neutral gray would be halfway between Black: R:0 B:0 G:0, and White: R:100 B:100 G:100

So ideally, somewhere near R:50 B:50 G:50.

You won’t always be able to find a perfect neutral gray (50,50,50) but look for something in the middle range between 0 and 100.

Use the white balance dropper to click on an area of the image that should be white or neutral gray and when you do it will correct your image’s color.

The closer the RGB numbers are to each other, the more accurate your white balance is. 

In this example, I hovered my white balance dropper over the shady area on the white pot on the table.

Notice how it looks more blue than white.

Pro Tip: an area of a white object that’s in shadow often makes for a great neutral gray.  Common examples of this are the whites of the eye or a shadowy area of a white t-shirt or sock.

As you can see here the RGB numbers all in the 50’s, but several digits apart: R: 50.9, G: 52.2 and B: 58.3.

After I click the white balance dropper on the pot, the color of my photo changes and the three RGB numbers are now exactly the same R: 52.5, G: 52.5, B: 52.5.

This means the gray on the pot is now “neutral” and my white balance is accurate!

It won’t always come out that perfectly, but the closer the numbers are to one another, the better the result.

white balance settings

Check out the before and after:

To learn more about white balance and to watch a video tutorial on using the white balance dropper check out this post on Two Easy Ways To Correct White Balance.

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4. Add A Vignette

One of my favorite photo editing techniques is to add a vignette using a radial filter that will bring the focus in on my subject.

The radial filter is inside the Develop Module.  Activate the radial filter by clicking on the circle on the righthand top side of your screen, or hit Shift+M on your keyboard.

I often create two radial filters

one to brighten my subject

and one to darken the areas around them.

This draws your eye to the subject and makes them “pop” from the scene around them.

Check out the before and after: 

Check out this video tutorial on how to use radial filters to enhance your photos:

If you’re a beginner, no need to be intimidated by photo editing.  You’ve now got 4 simple Lightroom photo editing techniques that will make a big impact on your images!

Try it and have fun!

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