Lightroom Tips

Why Lightroom Workflow Doesn't Matter

I was looking through my notes for my upcoming Lightroom seminar in Houston next month and I got an idea for today’s topic. One of the things I’ve added into the discussion at some point during the day, is the fact that Lightroom workflow (in the Develop module that is) doesn’t matter. Yep, it doesn’t matter one bit. Why? Because your settings in the Develop module aren’t “applied” by the order in which you add them. For example, we’re always taught to sharpen last in Photoshop. In Lightroom, it doesn’t matter if you do it first, second or last. Same with white balance, exposure, you name it. You can apply them at any point you’d like because they don’t build on top of each other. They’re all separate and whether you set the Exposure slider to +1.5 first or last won’t change the way it affects your photo.

That said, there’s kind of an unsaid order in which we do things. In fact, the Develop module is laid out in a pretty good order to start with. It almost leads you down the right path from top to bottom. For me, the only time I mess with the order is right in the beginning. I go to the Camera Calibration panel and adjust the Camera Profile settings (if I’m shooting Raw because they don’t work for JPEGs). Then I hop back up to the top and start working my way down. Usually it involves White Balance, then Exposure and everything in the Basic panel. Maybe a quick Tone Curve adjustment for some extra contrast, noise reduction and lens correction (if needed), and that’s usually it. If I’m going to Photoshop, I save all retouching, vignetting, and sharpening for there. If I’m not going to Photoshop then I’ll do the vignetting and sharpening in Lightroom last. But not because it matters that I do them last. It’s just because they’re closer to the bottom.

So what about you? Do you have a preferred order? Top down? Or something else? Let me know.