Adobe® Lightroom® CC Photo Editing: The Complete Guide


Lesson Info

Adjustment Workflows for B&W, HDR and Panoramas

Welcome to another day of Lightroom CC Photo Editing. Let's take a look back at what we've done thusfar because if you're just turning in now for the first time, we've covered a lot already. What we ended up starting with is on the first day, and actually the whole first week, we were trying to establish a good, firm foundation of knowledge so instead of jumping right into small little settings in Lightroom, we were looking at the big picture. That means we were thinking about what makes Lightroom unique compared to other programs, how should you think differently when working in Lightroom, and what kind of workflow should you use as far as what order you do things in? We also discussed if you should use a single catalog file or if you might want to split up your work into multiple catalogs, and there's a different answer for each person depending on your workflow, but we discussed it so you had a good way to evaluate what would be best. We also looked at simple things like just how yo...

u name your folders and organize things. Sounds like the simplest of things, but it can actually radically transform the way you work with your images, especially when you see some of the stuff we'll talk about in the next week where we start using some automation, and if you've named your folders in consistent ways, you'll be able to use more automation than usual. Then, in the second week, we started out the first day of the second week with adjusting and organizing, the whole second week, and that's when we had things like retouching, noise reduction, vignetting, that type of thing. In the third week, though, on the first day where we talked about facial recognition, where instead of having to go through all your images and manually recognize each person, manually type in their names to make them searchable, we can use some automation within Lightroom where we just educated about a few of the faces that appear in photos, and suddenly, it could recognize the majority of people that show up in photographs so we could much more quickly make it so those images were findable. The second day of week three, we talked about the map module. So if you don't remember the name of a place or anything like that but you remember approximately where it is, you want to zoom up on a map and say, well, where are all the pictures I took in Colorado, or Utah, or wherever else, you could zoom up and see your photographs on a map and just have a different way of searching and finding those images. Well, if you think about it, we're 11/20ths of the way done. 11/20ths? That's just a fancy way of saying we're just over halfway. And out of our 20 days, we've gone through 11 of them. Today, we're gonna be talking about adjustment workflows for black and white, HDR, and panoramas, and so those are some special features that we have in some of the newer versions of Lightroom where we can actually combine together multiple images, like we'd take separate exposures at varying brightness, we can put them all together into a single file that has that full brightness range. You'll see once we get into it. And so let's jump right into Lightroom so we can spend as much time today as possible working with the program. We're gonna start off talking about black and white. I'll just grab an image here that has quite a bit of color in it, and I'm gonna type the letter D to go to the Develop module. When I do that, on the right side of my screen, up in the Basic adjustment area, you have an area called Treatment and you'll see the choice of color versus black and white. If you click on the word black and white, all the color within your image will be taken out so you have a black and white image. But that's not all the control you have. Once you've converted it to black and white, you can scroll down, and the main section you want to go to is below the Basic section will be an area that includes the letters B & W. That stands for black and white. So if you expand that, you're going to find a bunch of colors listed, and these represent colors that used to be in your picture and by moving these sliders towards the right, we can brighten various colors and moving them towards the left, we can darken them. But when you look at the picture, you might not remember what color used to be in various areas, so what I like to do is there's this little icon that I think looks like a donut, right up here. You click on it and that means that if I move my mouse over my image, it should think about what's in the original image, and if click the mouse on a particular area, and then I can drag up if I want to brighten or down if I want to darken, and all it's doing is it's looking at the original photograph and figuring out what color was under the area my mouse was and it's finding the appropriate slider over on the right side of my screen. So in this case, it's telling me that this area that I've clicked on used to be blue, and that's why it's moving the blue slider. Then I can move to a different portion of my screen, click again and drag, and now it's working on areas that used to be yellowish in color. And so by dragging up and down in various areas, we can fine-tune our end result. I'm gonna type letter G to go back to the grid, and we can use that on a bunch of different images and the more colorful the image is, like this one, the more control we're gonna end up having. And the more similar all the colors are, the more trying to adjust one area will affect another cause they're just too similar. But all I need to do is again, go to the top of my screen on the right side, choose black and white, and then come down to those sliders, most of the time grabbing that little donut-shaped item and then you can come in here and fine-tune various areas. Now, after I convert something to black and white and I might fine-tune those, I find that just having a straight-up black and white image oftentimes just doesn't look all that exciting. Here, the original color image, when I looked at it, I thought the colors didn't contribute much to the picture. We have the tiniest amount of skin tone in this picture, we have the tiniest amount of gold on the lens that my wife's holding, and you can barely tell, but there's that littlest hint of a color outside this window she was shooting. So any time I notice that the color within the image isn't really doing much for it, I consider converting to black and white. So after going to black and white, I'll then consider coming down to an area called Split Toning and we discuss Split Toning in a different session in more depth, but here I want to make sure you think about it when applying it to black and white. So what Split Toning allows us to do is it allows us to force color into the bright or dark portions of our image and if you come in here to the hue slider for highlights, you can pick what color you'd like to go into the bright portion of the image. When you move the slider around, though, you won't see anything change in the picture because the slider just below that that's called saturation determines how large of a change you're gonna make, and the default setting is zero, which means no change at all. There's a hidden feature, though, within the slider for hue and that is if you hold down the option key, which is Alt in Windows, it will act as if it moved the saturation slider all the way up temporarily, just to let you see what color you're picking. And therefore, I can choose a color for the highlights here that I think would look good in here, I'm looking for a somewhat skin-toned color, and then after you let go, it brings you back to the saturation setting you actually had, default being zero, so we don't have any color, and I can slowly bring up that saturation to determine exactly how strong I would like that hint of color to be. If I'd like to also push some color into the dark portion of the image, I can go to the sliders underneath the Shadows heading and again, when I move the hue slider, I can hold down the option key, which is Alt in Windows, to preview what color is gonna be applied with the saturation at full strength. In this case, since this will be applied to the shadows, I'm ignoring the bright portion of the image and just seeing what it looks like in the dark areas. I like that color. Then I can adjust saturation to control exactly how strong it is in the shadows. So in this case, we're gonna have warm highlights and cool shadows. Finally, there's a balance slider, and if you hold down the option key when you're clicking on that, it'll be easier to figure out what it does. If I move this slider towards the left, you'll notice that it considers most of the image to be a shadow because the color that I'm pushing into the shadows is taking over most of the image. If I move it the opposite direction, then whatever color is considered the highlight is what's dominating the picture, and if I move this back and forth, I can control how far those highlights extend in and how far the shadows extend. So I'm kind of controlling the balance of where do the highlights and shadows start and end. And so in this case, I'm trying to get it so we mainly have a yellowish look on the bright parts of the skin, and only once it gets into the darker shadows do we have a more bluish tone. When I let go of the slider, then I get back to the actual saturation levels that I had tuned in here, whereas earlier, I was holding down the option key, which was acting as if saturation was turned all the way up, which just makes it a little easier to see exactly where the color is going. And once I get to this point, I'm just gonna fine-tune the amount of saturation I have in each area to get what I like. I use presets a lot when using Split Toning because with black and white, I find there are certain looks that I like to use over and over again. There'll be a certain warm tone that I've used once on an image, and I just want to try to get back to it again in the future. If you've never used presets before, on the left side of your screen when you're in the Develop module, at the top is a choice called Presets and if you expand that area, you'll probably have some presets in here that Adobe provided with Lightroom. You won't have as long as a list as I do, but if you go to the right side of your screen, you'll find a plus sign, and if you click on that, you can name this preset and I'm gonna call this Yellow Blue Toning. And I can tell it to go into a folder to organize my presets and at the very top is a choice called New Folder, so therefore, if you've never created a folder before, you can go up there and you might want to call these Black and White Presets. I'm gonna call mine CL so I remember I made them at Creative Live, and then Black and White Toning and I'll hit Create. Now, we've created a brand-new folder to store them in and we have the name of the preset at the top, we have the folder it's going into, and then down here, it wants to know exactly which sliders over here on the right side should be included within that preset. I would usually click the button called Check None, and then, right in here, I can just turn on Split Toning so that in general, the only thing that's being saved in here, the only thing that will be overridden when this preset is applied to a different picture are the sliders that are found under the Split Toning area. I don't want it to apply things like the contrast setting and the clarity setting, cause I might've already fine-tuned an image and all I'm trying to do is add some toning to it. So once I've done that, I click the Create button and now, the next time I go to the left side of my screen, I should have a folder here called CL B&W Toning. That's the folder I made. And as long as that's expanded so I can see what's inside of it, right there is my preset. So in the future, if I have a different image, let's say I have this one, maybe I go to the Develop module and I fine-tune the image, cause this image I think needs a little bit of contrast, one thing I mentioned the other day was there's a special thing under Effects in the newest versions of Lightroom called De-Haze and it might really allow this to get a lot of contrast. I'll make it black and white, and now, instead of having to remember how to get that color feeling into this image with the warm highlights and the cool shadows, I just move to the left side of my screen and I try to find that folder that I've created, and all I need to do is click on that particular preset and now I have those warm highlights, cool shadows. But after applying a preset, I'll often need to come in here to the Split Toning area and fine-tune the Balance setting is the one that I have to usually fine-tune for most images and on occasion, I might need to tweak the saturation. So I'll hold down the option key and I'll tweak the Balance setting, trying to get those yellow highlights just in the absolute brightest areas, like that. One thing that's nice about working with Presets is that if you have the area just above Presets, it's called the Navigator, expanded, then, whenever you mouse over, just hovering over a preset, that Navigator image changes to indicate what your picture would look like if you were to apply that preset. So if you create a bunch of presets for toning a black and white picture, here I happen to have a bunch of them, I can just hover over these and quickly move up and down the list while I look at the Navigator and I can see, what would it look like with each one of those presets applied? And therefore, I can navigate over them until I find the one I like, and maybe in this case, I really want a strong purple look, and when I click, it actually applies it to the image. And so those presets are great for working with Split Toning and so I would suggest that over time, you develop your own set of presets for that. Part of the bonus materials you get with the class is a set of starter presets, and so therefore, you don't have to create them all yourself. You'll get some to work with with the class. Then, if I want to apply the same look to multiple images, all I need to do is select multiple images, I'll click on one and hold the Shift key, and if I come in here and go to the right clicking on it, I can either come in here and reset settings, copy settings between things, so let's say it happens to not be part of my preset, instead, all I remember is I have it applied here, I want that same look across these, I can right click, go to Develop Settings, say copy those settings, and again, I get the same dialog where I can check none and say I just want to copy my split toning from this picture, hit Copy, then I grab my other images and right click, paste the settings, and it'll take awhile for them to update, but eventually, we can get the same look across multiple images, copying and pasting or using presets. So then, our second topic is HDR. HDR stands for high dynamic range and what high dynamic range is is first, I'll show you a few examples and then we'll look at why this is not the norm and we'll look at how to create high dynamic range images. If you look at this series of images, look at how wide of a brightness range is represented in these images. If you imagine actually standing here where this photo was taken, in the noonday kind of sun, how bright it would be in that area, and then being in this darker area, if you were to take a photograph of this, you wouldn't usually get all this shadow detail and also get the detail up in the sky. Same would be true here. In order to get the detail in this blue sky and get it dark enough to get nice and blue, down here in the deep shadows, it would look almost black, as you'll see in a few moments. Or here, I'm in a very small room that does not have very much light at all. The only light coming in is really from up here and just a little bit from below. Usually this area at the top would be completely blown out to white, but I'm able to retain the detail. Same with these. So let's look at what it would look like if I were to actually take my camera into any of those locations. This is more of what I would get with a camera. I can decide to capture the detail in the blue sky, but everything in the dark part of the photo is just beyond the range my camera can capture. I could always adjust my brightness settings, my exposure, and either go darker or go brighter, brighter, and brighter, but if I keep going brighter and keep going brighter until I get the detail in that really dark part of the photograph, look at what happens up where the tree is and the blue sky would be. And that's very typical, especially when shooting under the midday sun. So if we capture multiple exposures, we can merge them together using Lightroom and let's look at that process. I'm gonna take a series of images here, selecting, in this case, one, two, three, four, five. Most of the time, I find people do this with three images, but in some extreme cases, you'll need four, five, six, or even more. Depends on how extreme the brightness difference is. I'll discuss in a few minutes how to determine how many exposures you'd need. But for now, let's just look at the process of combining them together. I'm gonna select these images. I'll go to the Photo menu, and there's a choice called Photo Merge, and that's where I find a choice called HDR. Now, if you don't have this choice available in your copy of Lightroom, it means you simply don't have the newest version cause it's a relatively new feature. When I choose HDR, it's gonna take these exposures and it's gonna attempt to combine them together into a single image. When it does that, it will also attempt to align them, which means if there was a little bit of movement with the camera, it should be able to handle it, as long as it's within reason. So it would be most ideal if you use a tripod, but if you didn't, it can still handle a little bit of motion. And that is what this checkbox called Auto Align does. Then, it's not trying to make the image look good right now. It's just trying to show me the result of combining them together, and then it would be up to me to adjust it later on, but there is a checkbox right here that can kind of preview what it would look like after adjusting the image. It's called Auto Tone, and if I turn that on, I might have a better idea of what the end result might look like. If there's any movement in the scene, like if it was windy on this day and those trees were moving in the wind, then we can end up having a problem where on the edge of the trees, you might see kind of a ghosted version of the trees where it looks like there's more than one version of the same branch. And if that's the case, then over here on the right side, you're gonna find an area called Deghost Amount. When it's set to None, that would be where it's not trying to correct for any motion in the scene, but if you have motion in the scene, there's a flag flapping in the wind, there's people walking across the scene, there's a river and the water is changing position between those exposures, then you'll definitely want to turn on one of these settings. If you choose Low, it's only gonna do a small amount of correction, it's not gonna be all that aggressive about it, but what you can do is wait for it to build a new preview and then see if any areas that had ghosting in the past have been fixed. And if you're not sure which areas within your image that it applied the deghosting to, there's a checkbox below called Show Deghost Overlay and all that does is put a red overlay on your picture wherever it detected motion. And it tried to compensate for it, so if I turn that on, in this particular image, it didn't see much motion. In fact, it found some in the lower left corner, maybe there's somebody that stuck their head out and looked at what I was doing or something, and the tiniest bit, actually, right here. It tells me that this was a pretty still day where these trees were not in motion. But if there was some obvious motion within my picture, I would turn on that Deghost Overlay and make sure the red covered up all of the areas that had motion. And if it didn't cover up enough of the image, that's when I would push this up to Medium or High for deghosting, and that would cause it to work on a larger and larger area. I'm gonna turn off the Auto Tone checkbox. Most of the time, I only have that turned on when I'm looking at my deghosting because I prefer to start from this original image when I'm done. I find that if I have Auto Tone turned on and I later on go to adjust this picture and I hit reset, there's a reset button in the lower right, it never resets it all the way back to the actual original of what came out of the camera kind of settings, it resets back to the auto toned version. And just for that reason, I usually have it turned off. It's not a problem to have it turned on, though. Don't feel bad if you have it turned on. It's just a personal preference of mine that there's a little quirk in Lightroom that makes it so I usually have it turned off. I'll click Merge and then, in the upper left, we're gonna find a progress bar and that's gonna say it's creating our HDR file, and when it's done, in the same folder as these files, we should find a new file, and that new file will end with the letters DNG. That's the file extension on the end. It's known as a digital negative file and it'll be a special image that contains the brightness range from all of these photographs. We'll just have to wait for it to complete. If we don't want to wait right now, I can come back to it, I'll just go to one that's already been created in the past, I have one sitting here. And I'll go to the Develop module and hit Reset so it looked like what it did right when I finished my merging. So just slightly different scene, but this would be the equivalent to the end result. The end result often doesn't look that great, and that's just because it hasn't been optimized, it hasn't been adjusted. What I usually do with my HDR images as a starting point is I go into the Develop module and I do the following. I take the Highlights slider and I turn it all the way down, and as I do that, the highlights get darker and I start to see the detail in the brightest portion of the image. Then I take the Shadows slider and I move it all the way up, which allows me to see what's in the shadows. So highlight's all the way down, shadow's all the way up. After doing so, I grab the Exposure slider and I use that as an overall brightness adjustment. And then, from this point on, I treat this like any other image I've ever adjusted, meaning my mindset isn't any different than any other image, and it doesn't mean that I'm gonna end up leaving the highlights at this setting or leaving the shadows. If I find that I need to change them, I will. Maybe I find in this case, the shadows are just a little bit too bright. I want it to look relatively dark in there so I might bring them down a tiny amount. As we discussed on a different session, there are three sliders that can make an image pop more and those are increasing contrast, increasing clarity, or increasing vibrance and so I might try some of those, see what happens if I boost my contrast a little, bring up clarity a little, that really brings out the textures in the image, and possibly vibrance. Gotta be careful when there's a blue sky, it's very easy to overdo it, so I'm not gonna bring vibrance up too high. And then you can incorporate any of the other settings that we use in Lightroom. So if you find that the image looks too yellow, remember that we had white balance in there. We can shift things away from yellow, or if it was too magenta, away from that and I can just fine-tune the colors in the image. But I don't have to treat it any differently than any other picture that I've captured, other than my initial adjustment of adjusting my highlights and shadows to get those areas to have the detail. I'll type G to go back to the grid and we can look for our file in here, it should be in here. If you look at our series of images, you'll see that each one of these images has a file extension, it's right here, called CR2. That means it's a Canon RAW file, that just happens to be what Canon uses at the end of theirs, and you'll see CR2, CR2, and if you keep moving over, eventually, you'll find one that ends in DNG. And on the end of the file name, you'll find that it added the letters HDR to indicate that that's the end result right there that it just created. And oftentimes, it'll be just kind of along with your other pictures. If, for some reason, you don't find it sitting along with your other pictures, scroll all the way to the bottom. It might be sitting down there because you might have the sort order on your pictures set to sort by either creation date or modification date, which would put it down either at the top or bottom. So anyway, let's optimize that picture. I'll hit the letter D and I'll do my standard thing, which is to bring my highlights all the way down, shadows all the way up, and then adjust my exposure for an overall brightness. After doing that, now it's just like any other picture. So that means think about the sliders the same way you usually would. I'm gonna see what happens if I maybe boost contrast a little, little bit of clarity, get the sky to be a little bit more colorful. And so if you compare this end result to the original photographs that were taken, look at how much detail we can see in the dark portion of the image. We could try to get even more by moving the sliders further. I mentioned that there is a setting, if you ever max out your Shadows slider, there was a trick and that as you move the Exposure slider to compensate, to get even more of that kind of thing, but let's compare this to the original exposures. Here's one of them. Do you see how the sky just has pretty much no detail? Here's another one where we might get a little bit more sky detail, but by the time we do, the detail at the bottom is really difficult to see, and so on. And if you remember when we adjusted images in other sessions, any time you attempt to brighten up the really dark parts of your image on a normal, single exposure file, that's when a lot of noise shows up. But by capturing HDR, where you get more than one exposure and combining them, usually you avoid that noise. And so therefore, we can get a lot more detail out of our shadows, and it can look much better. So let's talk about capturing HDR images. Most of the time, you take your camera and use a setting that's called auto bracketing. And with auto bracketing, you usually have your camera in aperture priority mode, and therefore, the aperture setting is consistent between each shot. That means the depth of field, how much stuff is sharp in each shot is consistent. And all it's doing is changing your shutter speed. When you turn on auto bracketing, you can usually choose how many photographs you want your camera to capture. Usually, it starts off with three. Depending on your camera, you can tell it to take five, seven, nine shots. The other setting that you choose when turning on auto bracketing is how much of a difference there is in brightness between the shots, how many stops of exposure. And so the most generic setting most people use for shooting HDR is to turn on the auto bracketing setting and tell it to take three photographs with the difference between them being two stops. And that's kind of a generic setting that most people would use, day to day, when you're out shooting. There are times when you want to deviate from that. The times you want to deviate from that is whenever there is an abrupt change in brightness. If you have something like a neon sign at night, think about how bright the neon would be and how dark the area nearby would be, and there's a relatively quick transition between that glowing neon and the really dark building that it might be on, you know, a few feet away. That's when you might want to change the difference between the exposures from the standard that most people use, which is two stops, and bring it down to one stop between. That's gonna give you a smoother transition between those images, and it'll make it so it can make the transition between the glowing neon and the dark building that it's on more smooth. But it's only when you have those things, like a really bright light source and an otherwise dark environment where you need to narrow it down to one stop between shots. Otherwise, two stops is fine. If you want to determine if you need more than three shots, here's how I think about things when I'm in the field. If I have my camera set up to take three shots, I take those shots, click, click, click. Just press and hold the shutter, it'll take them for me. And then I play back the images and I look at the darkest image and what I'm looking for in the darkest image is to see if I have highlight detail. That means detail in the brightest part of the image. And so if I have highlight detail, then that image is dark enough. If the highlights are blown out where I can't see the detail, it wasn't dark enough. I need to change my exposure setting on my camera to take a darker set of photographs. I need to re-capture it. There are a few exceptions, and that is if there's something that's so bright, it would hurt your eyes to look directly at it. The noonday sun would be an example or the sun being reflected off of a car's windshield or the water on a lake or something where you'd get a really bright highlight. That's okay to not have detail in there, but anything else, I want to make sure we have detail in the highlights. That's what I'm looking for in the darkest part of my image and if I don't have that detail, I need to re-capture that scene by changing my camera settings to make it a darker exposure. The next thing I do is I look at the brightest exposure I got. If I take three, I'll just review them and look at the brightest one. Here is the brightest one in this particular case. And what I'm looking for in this case is in the dark portion of the image, can I see whatever's important there? So if the side of this piano was not important at all, then this would be fine, but if we're selling that instrument, that's what this is an ad for, then you probably want to be able to see the detail in the dark portion. So I'm merely trying to make it so whatever's important in the dark portion of the image is easy to see. I usually actually call it well-lit. It looks like it's lit up nice and bright. So if it's not, that means I need more than three exposures. I just didn't get enough. So I need a fourth or a fifth exposure that goes even brighter, where hopefully, I'll be able to suddenly see the detail in that area. Now, we don't always get to that point where we have a perfect set of exposures where the darkest one gave us as much highlight detail as we could get, and the brightest one made it so whatever's important in the dark portion of my image looks well-lit. We just need to deal with whatever we captured, but when I have the time and the image that I'm taking is important, that's what I do, evaluate the darkest, make sure we have highlight detail, evaluate the brightest, make sure you can easily see what's important in the dark part of the image and if we can't, continue taking brighter and brighter pictures until we can. And that's why, on some of these images, you'll notice that I have a lot more than just three exposures. And so when it comes to the little area here where if you look at how dark it needed to be to get the detail in the trees that were outside that area, it was so bright out there, it was crazy, then by the time I get it brighter, there's not much here in the dark, so I had to keep going and keep going until this looked well-lit. If this part in here was important, it doesn't look well-lit yet, so I'd need to keep going. Now it's starting to look, so that's the brightest I went right there. I considered that to be a little bit more well-lit. And by doing so, when I combined them together, I can get detail in all of those areas and I will have no noise. If I didn't go far enough to get this to be well-lit right here, instead, I stopped at maybe this point here, then I might be able to get the detail to show up here, but when I do, just like with a normal, single image when you brighten up a really dark area, this would be full of noise. But because I went bright enough, then this area will be noise-free in this end result. So start off with HDR, if you've never done it before, with just taking three shots two stops apart and 80% of the time, that'll be fine. And it's when you get to extreme situations, you have a train tunnel where you're a half mile in and it's really dark and you can see out the end where it's daylight, that's when you're gonna have to start thinking about more than three shots. Or you're doing a client's shoot, it's really important to get it right and you can't afford to do it wrong, then just take more shots just to make sure you have it covered, even though you might not have needed that many, it's just better to get home knowing you have everything you could've used, than come home and go, "Oh, man, I really wish I would've taken one or two more." Remember to combine them together. All I did was select the images, I went to the Photo menu, chose Photo Merge, and that's where I found HDR. Then, let's switch over and talk about panoramas. In the newer versions of Lightroom, we can stitch panoramas directly from within Lightroom. They don't have to be horizontal panoramas, sometimes they're verticals, like this one. There's another vertical. This one, you'd have to zoom up way up here, there's a bear in the tree. So I got the bear in the tree first and then I started tilting the camera down and down and down to get it all the way to the bottom. Here's another example of a panorama. And there's some advantages of stitching panoramas in Lightroom compared to using other programs. If you use other programs, it's usually important that you adjust your picture before you end up stitching it into a panorama, and the reason for that is there are certain features that work best on RAW files and if you were shooting with RAW format, you need to make sure you have things like white balance established before you stitch your panorama, you need to make sure, if you're gonna pull out any detail in the shadows or in the highlights, you do it when it's on the RAW file because the RAW file contains more information than a TIF or a JPEG or any other format, and therefore, you can get more quality out of it. But when it comes to stitching panoramas in Lightroom, the end result is still a RAW file, it still has all the qualities of a RAW file, which means you can either adjust the individual exposures ahead of a time, or you can wait until after the panorama is stitched. It's much easier to figure out what settings to use once it's already one image, one piece. So let's look at the process. Here are the individual exposures that I want to combine together. To accomplish that, I'm gonna click on the first image, hold Shift, and click on the last image. Then, I'll go to the Photo menu, I'll choose Photo Merge, and I'll choose Panorama. Then, it's going to attempt to stitch those into a single image. It might take awhile cause those are high-resolution images. And once it's done, we have a few different methods that it could use to align those images. These control how it was able to bend the pictures to make them match up. If you want to get a better idea for what these do, you might want to turn off this check box called Auto Crop cause then, you'll actually see the shape of the end result. And if I switch here between the top setting and the middle one, it'll take it awhile to recalculate this, but you'll see the end result usually looks slightly different. In this case, you can barely see the difference. It looks the tiniest bit taller with the middle setting. And if I go to the bottom one, you can see it's bent differently. So what I would do is start with the top setting. Most of the time, that works out fine. And only if that doesn't give you a good-looking result would I switch to these others. You'll find the more you shoot handheld and the more you shoot with the subject matter really close to the camera, then the more critical these settings are. The more you're on a tripod and you have your subject really far away, these aren't gonna make as dramatic of a difference because when you have your subject matter really close to you, if you swing your camera to shoot the far left of a panorama, usually your camera's gonna be further away from that section of your subject matter, let's say it's a car, and then when you swing to point straight onto it, your camera's gonna be closer to that middle portion of the car and when you get to the end, again, you're further away, physically, if you used a ruler to measure it, and so there's more distortion. If that same car was three miles from you and you shot the front, the middle, and the end, there'd be so little difference in how far away your camera is from the subject that there's not as much distortion. So then, if you end up with a result that doesn't look like a rectangle, which will be always, there's a check box here in the newer versions called Auto Crop, and that's just gonna get rid of any of that extra space that was out there. On occasion, I'll have that turned off because I'll decide I'm gonna go into Photoshop and fill in those areas manually or using some special features in Photoshop, and so therefore, I don't want to crop them. There's a brand-new feature in here, though, called Boundary Warp, and if i bring that up, watch what happens in those empty areas. It's going to stretch the picture to try to fill in those empty areas and so if I turn that all the way down again, you see how much it was able to try to fill in. And sometimes, it can make a big difference, but be careful. Sometimes it can also distort things in ways that you wouldn't like. If you have, let's say architecture, stretching a building the littlest bit can make it rather obvious quickly. But with a landscape, where you have things that don't have really precise rectangular shapes, you wouldn't usually notice it as much. But that's a new feature where if you find it's cropping in too much, when you turn on Auto Crop, try bringing up your Boundary Warp setting a little bit until it's no longer all that tight. When you're done, click the Merge button and we'll wait for that to merge these images together. We'll see a progress bar near the upper left of my screen, right there. So while we're waiting for that to finish, let's just talk a little bit about shooting panoramas. It's relatively important that when you shoot a panorama, that you use manual focus. You can auto focus and then just click the lens over to manual so that when you go across the scene, it's not varying in focus. I had a shot I took of about three dozen elephants in a panorama and I used a narrow depth of field, like shooting it at four or something like that, and I shot this panorama, it stitched and it was beautiful. But then somebody asked for a big print of it, I zoomed up to 100% view, and I noticed my focus point was different on each shot and it made it so when you stitched it together, only when you zoomed up real close, which you'd only notice in a big print, would you notice that the feet of the elephant are sharp in one shot and then just about a foot in front of the feet, they're sharp in the next shot, and so on, and so it can end up being an issue. And so I usually click my lens over to manual focus. I actually set up my camera so that I have a special mode on it where there's a button on the back, and using that button, you have to press it manually to focus. And I call it my panorama mode, where I just click that to focus, then I let go and it stays the same. The other thing is you want to keep the exposure consistent. Usually, there's a button on the back of your camera, sometimes it's labeled AEL, that stands for auto exposure lock. On other brands of cameras, it might look like an asterisk where it's just not really labeled, and it means if you press and hold that, it'll keep the exposure the same for however long you hold it. So you pick whatever part of your panorama is the most difficult part to expose for, maybe it's where the sun is in the scene, you test your exposure until that looks good and you press and hold the AEL button. Keep that in when you do your panorama. Or another method of getting that same result would be just to be in manual mode in your camera where your exposure doesn't shift. Alright, here's our end result. I'm gonna press letter D to go to the Develop module. And now, this has the same qualities of a RAW file as long as we started with a RAW original, and that means it wasn't important that we adjusted it ahead of time, I can still get the same quality that I would otherwise usually get. So I might come in here and fine-tune this and I can see it as a whole, cause otherwise, it's relatively difficult to figure out how to optimize an entire panorama when all you're seeing is the individual pieces but once it's stitched together, I find it's much easier to think about. So it can work with both vertical and horizontal panoramas. It can also work with a grid, so if I want to capture across one side, go down and do a second row, go down and do a third row to capture a large area, that type of thing. And I really enjoy it, mainly because it's still a RAW file, so the quality is still there in my adjustment and it's not critical if I adjust it ahead of time or not. Yes. Will Lightroom handle the panorama in a grid? I believe it will, at least I can do verticals and horizontals, and I believe I've done more than just one row. I'd have to test it to be sure, but as far as I remember, it does. Okay. I haven't tested it in the last short period of time, so there's a small chance I could be wrong. Let's go to an extreme. We talked about HDR, didn't we? And the HDR allows us to get a wider brightness range in our scene. We talked about panoramas. Why not combine the two ideas? If you look here, here is a scene where in order to see what's outside where the clouds are, I have to underexpose. It's just like being in normal architecture where you can see out the window and in order to see what's out there, you have to underexpose. In order to see what's inside, I've gotta get brighter and in order to see what's inside this dark stuff, I gotta get brighter, right? So this is HDR. I'll show you the end result first just so you can see the scene. Check that out. If I want to find out where this is, I'll look at the name of my files and it'll tell me that here, we're in Singapore. My brain was not thinking of where I was traveling at the time, but this is in Singapore. Really interesting dome structure. Really difficult to photograph because you can see outside the windows and if you want to get any of that detail as well as the detail in the dark stuff, let's see how this was made. So first, this was shot as HDR and if you look at the series of images here, I'll show you what I got. Here is a three exposure bracket. Underexposed, normal exposed, overexposed. I've already taken those three, selected them, and I went up to the Photo menu. I said Photo Merge and combine it into HDR. When I did that, it produced this file. Do you notice that that file says DNG? That's what we got when we did our panorama. And I've done the same thing for the other shots that I had captured. In this case, I have these stacked so that it will slide and hide the original exposures so they're hidden underneath this, so I'll just click on the number that's on the top. So all we're seeing here are the end result of those HDR mergings. If I grab all of those results, where we merge the individual exposures of each little section of our panorama, then I can go Photo, Photo Merge, Panorama. And now I have an HDR panorama that's still a RAW file, meaning I can still adjust white balance, I can still get more detail out of highlights and other things that even if they weren't in some of the original previews. And it'll take awhile, though, for it to stitch this because that's an awful lot of data that's in there, but it's capable of doing it. I'm not gonna click Merge cause I already have the end result sitting right here. If you want to see what it looked like before I ended up adjusting it, I'll hit the reset button and that's what it looked like with my stitching. You can see the shape of the panorama. I happened to have stitched this one before they added that feature that could stretch the edges to fill back in, and it might've been nice to use that here. But then, once I optimized it, I rather liked what I had. So you can combine those ideas and do an HDR panorama. You just have to make sure you captured what you needed, make sure your exposures were consistent across all those panorama shots, and then manually merge together the individual sections into your HDRs and only after you've done that, grab the end result HDRs into a panorama. Pretty crazy. Alright, well, let's think about what we've been doing here. We got some homework for you. I have some images that I've captured all over the world that you get some of the RAW files for, and therefore, you can stitch an HDR panorama or if you want to get an interesting content to do an HDR with that might be one of those extreme ones where you need more than three shots, the ones you might not have in your Lightroom catalog yet, part of your homework is to get good at processing those HDR images and possibly try an HDR panorama. You've been thinking about this 20-day-long course, we've only got seven days left. We've done quite a bit through this course, but we still have a lot to cover. We still are gonna talk about organizing keywords into a structure so they're in an organized fashion. We'll talk about doing slideshows. And I might, if you guys are good, show you how to cheat and use the slideshow feature to make a time lapse, meaning a slideshow that's going so fast, it's like 30 frames per second fast, but it can make a cheat, so Lightroom can make time lapses, even though it wasn't really designed for that. We'll talk about, also, things like book layouts and we'll get into tips and tricks and troubleshooting. If you want to find me online, here's where you can find me on various social media sites. And of course, you can find me on my website at This has been another day in Lightroom CC Photo Editing. I hope you've been learning a lot here. We've still got a bunch to go and I hope you're having as much fun as I am.

Welcome to CreativeLive’s comprehensive Lightroom® workshop! Join one of our best software instructors, Ben Willmore, to learn how to process and organize your images more efficiently - and have more time to spend doing the stuff that matters. In this series of lessons, you’ll learn how to:

  • Import and organize your images
  • Optimize your photos and workflow
  • Make your images searchable within the program
  • Exporting, printing, and troubleshooting

When you purchase this course you’ll gain access to both an enduring resource to build your skills and a community with which to share the fruits of your work. Ben will provide a workbook that acts as a reference guide.

Don't have Photoshop yet? Get it now so you can follow along with the course!

Software Used: Adobe Lightroom CC 2015.2 - 2015.3



  • Creative Live is a godsend and, in my opinion, Ben Willmore is one of their best instructors - if not the best. He is as natural and thoughtful a teacher as he must be a learner. He knows a lot! He is clear about what his students want and need to know, from basic to advanced concepts, and he is constantly aware that he has students watching who are of different knowledge levels. He never takes off, leaving the less experienced behind - instead he moves forward at a good pace while referring back to create mental links during the progression; good for all levels. I work with Lightroom already and so have both experience and questions about how to work more efficiently and creatively. This bootcamp is definitely helping me. I've watched others of Ben's classes, and they always help. Thank you, Ben and Creative Live.
  • Thanks again Ben, for your fabulous teaching and your ability to actually teach and not just show and tell...As other people have commented you have a gift to teach in the way that you do. I have purchased many of your courses and was not going to purchase this, thinking I have all your prior courses...alas, you are just too good!!! I had to buy it in the end and thanks again for all the goodies, so worth the money: Really looking forward to June for your Photoshop class. Once again, I have taken many of your photoshop courses but you keep adding such great info that I cannot resist...see you in June!! Keep up the fabulous work, byw, I love all the yoga poses, what fun you both have with this idea...
  • I have had the privilege of participating in this excellent class from the front row seat in the Creative Live San Francisco studios. After only a few of the 20 sessions, I quickly appreciated the many features and benefits of using LightRoom to organize and edit all of my images. If you're like me, you've had access to LR for a while, and have opened it and fumbled through the myriad of complex menus a few times, then have gone back to using Photoshop. After these classes with Ben Willmore, (and they're not even done yet), I have tackled the job of re-organizing and keywording tens of thousands of images that reside on various backup drives, many of which I've never even had time to look at. I now have a path forward to enjoying what is in my archives rather than letting them gather dust. I have made HDR images, panoramas, slide shows and Blurb books with ease based on the techniques learned in class. Throughout the class, we lobbed many questions at Ben, and every single time he knew the answer in an instant, or could give us a work-around or several ways to do what we're trying to accomplish in LR. His deep knowledge of LR (and PS) simply cannot be matched, and he's a natural trainer. The days have flown by, and after each day I can't wait to get home and start working on my images. Regardless of your type of photography - professional, avid amateur, or hobbyist - if you shoot and edit a lot of images, LR can be a huge benefit in your workflow. Even if you think you already sort of know how LR works, there is still plenty of useful info in this course that will help you to extract maximum benefit from Lightroom. For me it has been nothing short of transformative!