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10 Key Tools for Editing Portraits Using Adobe Lightroom Mobile

Image: Photo: Jye B

Photo: Jye B

As humans, we relate to and love to capture photos of other people. Be it family, friends, strangers in street photography or professionally in a portrait studio.

Image: Model/Actor: Patrick Walsh, Jr.

Model/Actor: Patrick Walsh, Jr.

However, we don’t always have time to sit in front of a computer at home or in an office to edit our work. With the fantastic creation of Adobe Creative Cloud, you can now sync your Lightroom library to all your devices. You can create and edit images directly on your mobile phone or edit images created in any fashion, including in a studio. You can edit them in Lightroom Mobile on the go via laptop, tablet or smartphone.

While editing portraits, Lightroom Mobile, like its desktop counterpart, has many tools available to help take a snapshot of a great portrait. While it is helpful to explore every tool in the toolbox, here are ten key tools for editing portraits using Adobe Lightroom Mobile.

1. The Exposure Tool

Whether it’s midday outdoors and your image is a little overexposed or its a bit overcast and your image is a little underexposed, the exposure tool in the Lightroom Mobile app is a quick fix to brighten or darken a photo to your liking arbitrarily. In the image below, the mirror image of my subject was a little bit dark, so I bumped up the exposure just a little. Doing so lightened some of the shadows in the subjects sunglasses so that you could see his eyes better. It also helped to show more detail in the black coat.

Image: In this case, bumping up the exposure helped bring out details.

In this case, bumping up the exposure helped bring out details.

2. The Contrast Tool

Adding contrast to an image creates more emphasis between light and dark colors in an image. However, sometimes contrast needs to be subtracted because too much can make similar tones can blend and lose definition. In the image below, I lowered the contrast to enhance the detail in my subject’s coat. Adding exposure in the first step brightened the subject as well as the mirror image. Although, it brightened the subject a little too much. I also dropped the highlights to put less focus on the brightest parts of the subject’s face.

Image: Taking away contrast can show more detail. Taking away highlights can lessen the glare.

Taking away contrast can show more detail. Taking away highlights can lessen the glare.

3. The Shadows Tool

You can utilize the ‘Shadows’ tool when sculpting to a face or body is required, or you can remove them to show more detail. In the image below, while I did bump up the exposure a little bit, I also took away shadow to show more of my subject’s eyes through the sunglasses. You can now see the irises and catchlights in the eyes. It has also lightened some of the lines on the face too.

Image: Removing shadow can sometimes reveal more detail.

Removing shadow can sometimes reveal more detail.

4. The Healing Tool

One of the most amazing Lightroom Mobile tools recently introduced is the ‘Healing’ tool. This tool allows you to correct things on portraits such as blemishes. In the image below, I tried to preserve the model’s natural moles and birthmarks while only removing unwanted blemishes using the Healing brush.

Image: Before and after images using the Healing Brush in Lightroom Mobile.

Before and after images using the Healing Brush in Lightroom Mobile.

5. The White Balance Tool

Sometimes you may capture an image where the white balance is a bit off. It could be too warm or too cold. The ‘Temperature’ slider under the ‘Color’ tab for ‘White Balance’ allows you to cool or warm an image. The below-left image was too cold, and the skin appeared gray. So, I boosted the warmth using the Color Temperature slider from 4400K to 4768K, giving a more natural color to the skin.

Image: You can cool or warm an image using the ‘Temperature’ slider for ‘White Bal...

You can cool or warm an image using the ‘Temperature’ slider for ‘White Balance’ under the ‘Color’ tab.

6. The Clarity Tool

The ‘Clarity’ tool has a very magical effect when it comes to editing portraits – especially of women. If you have a portrait with harsh shine on the skin or the pores are extremely visible, softening the ‘Clarity’ helps to blur out some of those imperfections subtly. It can make skin appear smoother, as in the image below.

Image: Softening Clarity can subtly blur out some imperfections and make skin appear smoother.

Softening Clarity can subtly blur out some imperfections and make skin appear smoother.

7. The Sharpening Tool

In portraiture, a sharp image is key. An essential portrait element to be sharp is the eyes, or at least the eye closest to the camera. Sometimes you may need to sharpen your image in Lightroom Mobile to achieve this.

Image: Sometimes sharpening is necessary to get key features, like the eyes, crisper.

Sometimes sharpening is necessary to get key features, like the eyes, crisper.

8. The Noise Reduction Tool

After sharpening, zoom in to check for unwanted noise in your image. If there is unwanted noise, Lightroom Mobile has an entire ‘Noise Reduction’ section under the ‘Effects’ tab that you can use to minimize noise in your portraits. The Noise Reduction tool is also helpful in smoothing out any highlighted rough skin.

Image: The Noise Reduction tab helps get rid of noise and smooth out the rough skin under highlights...

The Noise Reduction tab helps get rid of noise and smooth out the rough skin under highlights.

9. The Presets Tool

The ‘Presets’ tab is a fun tab. There are several sub-menus under Presets with a variety of readymade one-click settings you can quickly apply to your portraits. As examples, I chose two from the ‘Creative’ sub-menu under Presets to apply to the original image below-left.

Image: Left to right: Original image, Soft Mist, Aged Photo.

Left to right: Original image, Soft Mist, Aged Photo.

10. The Crop Tool

The last tool you may find you need while editing on-the-go is the ‘Crop’ tool. Sometimes we have too much in an image, whether by accident or on purpose, knowing we can edit it later. Lightroom Mobile allows you to select the area of an image you wish to keep. Using your fingers, you can drag the borders to where you want them placed, as per the image below.

Image: Using Lightroom Mobile, drag borders with your fingers and click the checkmark to finished wh...

Using Lightroom Mobile, drag borders with your fingers and click the checkmark to finished when cropping images.

Tying It All Together

Lightroom Mobile grants photographers many tools to edit on-the-go. You can take a regular capture and make it an extraordinary image. Take a few images, use the various tools of Lightroom Mobile, and learn how they can be adjusted more toward your vision. You’ll find the convenience of Lightroom Mobile second-to-none, with results being similar to those of a desktop computer.

Have you used Adobe Lightroom Mobile? What are your experiences with it? Let us know in the comments below.

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Dawn Wayand
Dawn Wayand

Dawn Wayand is a photographer, curator, and educator specializing in studio work, exhibiting, travel and creative photography. She teaches workshops through Dawn M. Wayand Photography. Sign up for her free newsletter to learn more about her private workshops in New York City here.