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5 Tips That Will Save You Time in Lightroom 3

A Guest Post by Scott Williams.

Post processing is an important part of a photographer’s work and can be time consuming and overwhelming. The more time you spend behind a computer post processing, the less time you have to spend behind the camera. Luckily there are things you can do to streamline your post processing.

Adobe Lightroom 3 has a number of tools that you can take advantage of to dramatically cut down on your post processing time. In this article I will cover five tips that will save you time in Lightroom 3.

Tip # 1 – Copy and Paste Settings

Lightroom Copy and Paste Settings.jpg

Lightroom 3 allows you to copy the actions you performed on one photo and apply it to other photos. This comes in handy when you have a series of photographs that are very similar. I recently used the Copy and Paste Settings when post processing a series of dragonfly photographs, and I didn’t have to spend time editing each photo. I simply edited the first dragonfly photo in the series, and once I was satisfied with the result I went to Settings in the toolbar and selected Copy Settings. I then selected the next photo in the series and went back to Settings and this time clicked Paste Settings. The changes I made to the first dragonfly photo were applied to the second photo with a click of a button.


Tip # 2 – Presets

Presets in Lightroom 3.jpg

Presets are similar to Copy and Paste Settings but by using the preset option you can save your post processing process and apply it at a later date. When converting photographs to black and white I typically adjust the same settings. By creating a preset I can simply click on my black and white preset and all my saved adjustments are applied to the new photograph.

It is very easy to create and use presets. You make the necessary adjustments to the first photograph and once you are happy with the results click on New Preset which can be found in the Develop menu in the toolbar. Name the preset and click Create. You can also create a preset by clicking the + sign next to the preset menu on the far left. You can access your saved presets from the left preset menu under User Presets.

Tip #3 – Learning the Keyboard Shortcuts

Like most computer software programs, Adobe Lightroom 3 has built in keyboard shortcuts. Utilizing these shortcuts can save you a lot of time and energy. Moving your mouse around the screen takes time. A second here and there can add up to minutes or even hours over a long period of time. The shortcuts can be found next to the tasks you wish to perform in the drop down menus of the toolbar.

A few of my favorite shortcuts:

Ctrl Z – Undo
Ctrl Y – Redo
Crop – R
Ctrl –Shift – C –Copy Settings
Ctrl –Shift – V – Paste Settings

Tip #4 – Adding a Watermark

Watermark Example-1.JPG

Adding a watermark in Lightroom 3 is fast and easy. Creating a watermark takes place at the bottom of the Export pop-up menu. It is here you can create a custom watermark and apply it to your exported photo. Once you have created your custom watermark it is as simple as checking the watermark box before you export.

Lightroom 3 Export Menu.jpg

Tip #5 – After Export

After Export allows you to direct what action you want to take place after you have exported your photograph. This can be very beneficial if you plan to do further post processing in Adobe Photoshop or any other applications. I find it easier to clone out objects in Adobe Photoshop; therefore, when I need to use Photoshop I select the Open in Photoshop CS5 in the After Export box. After the photo is exported it then opens in Photoshop automatically. This cuts out having to open Photoshop and locate the folder you exported your photograph to.

This all happens at the bottom of the Export pop-up menu. You are able to select what action you want to take place after you export your photograph. You can also choose ‘Do Nothing’ if you are finished with the photo.


Post processing is an essential part of photography. These simple tips can cut your post processing time down and save you a lot of time in the long run.

About Scott WilliamsI am a self taught photographer that enjoys photographing the great outdoors. My photographs, tips and more can be found on my blog.

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