Using Lightroom to edit your iPhone photos

Even with the new iPhone 7 causing a stir with its brand new camera functions, the old iPhone 6 is still a heavy-hitter when it comes to High Quality images

I always tell those who join me on my Beginner’s Photography Workshops that activating the shutter is just the start, and learning how to edit your pictures leads you on to a path of discovery.

It might all sound a bit mystical, but the truth is, only you – the photographer – can define your style and no-one else. So the sooner you get to grips with some form of editing software, the sooner you’ll start reaping the benefits.

My own experience with editing took a while to develop. At first I didn’t really use anything; maybe some built-in software on my laptop. At some point I obtained a copy of Photoshop and started playing around with it, but it was such a mammoth tool that I didn’t really know where to begin.

Adobe Lightroom came to the rescue when I started studying photojournalism and I haven’t looked back since. The programme keeps getting better and better (in regards to workflow and usability), but the fundamentals remain the same.

Ten years later and I think it’s safe to say I am a fairly experienced user of Lightroom, which is understandable as I use it every single day to upload, edit, store and manage my images. So it should be no surprise to learn that this year I launched an Introduction to Adobe Lightroom Workshop.

The workshop is really aimed at anyone wanting to take the next step with their photography and learn what all those sliders and buttons are for. It may seem daunting at first, but it doesn’t take long for the information to stick.

To hammer the point home I wanted to show you a very simple edit I worked on earlier. The photo on the left was taken with an iPhone 6 on a very boring day. I was just on an afternoon walk and made my way down to the HQ of Aller Media in Copenhagen.

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For those of us living in Copenhagen it’s common to see this iconic structure on Instagram. No shame there – it’s a great building, after all. Reminds me a bit of the FlatIron in New York.

The picture on the right took about five minutes in Lightroom and I’m sure you agree that it makes all the difference. Hell, I should be selling this one in a gallery somewhere.

So for now I thought I’d share with you the simple adjustments made in Lightroom to get this relatively ordinary photo looking a lot more impressive

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The first thing to work on is the exposure and contrast. You really want to make that building stand out from the background, but without ignoring that moody sky behind. To do this, increase the Shadows slider to +100, do the same with the Clarity, and increase the Contrast by +85. You’ll need to play around with the Tone Curve too.

Those colours are the next thing on your list. Experiment with different levels of saturation and Split Toning. In my case I’ve settled for a purple / green combo – two colours that naturally go well together.

Finally I’ve sharpened the image, added some Noise Reduction, and straightened the image using the Lens Correction feature. I’ve also added a vignette, which seems to be something that happens on Auto Pilot.

Once you get the hang of working with these settings on a regular basis you’ll soon start to notice an increase in your creativity. For me the editing process is by far the most enjoyable part, even though it does mean sitting behind a desk!