10 Secret Lightroom Tools

Let me tell you something not many photographers know – Adobe Lightroom is packed with underused and underrated features that will speed up your workflow and improve your edits.

I’ve got 10 secret Lightroom tools that will uncover new possibilities in your photo editing workflow, allowing you to achieve results that were either cumbersome or seemingly impossible before.

Here are ten of my favourite secret tools in Lightroom Classic, what they do, where to find them and how to use them:

1. Match Total Exposures

Found in the Develop module under the settings menu, this feature allows you to match the exposure across different photos. It’s incredibly useful for maintaining consistency in images shot under similar lighting conditions but with slight exposure variations.

Where to Find It

In the Library module, select the photos you want to match. Go to the Develop module and on the menu bar choose Settings > Match Total Exposures.

How to Use

This feature adjusts the exposure of selected photos to match a target photo’s exposure. It’s particularly useful for a series of shots taken in the same lighting conditions but with slight exposure differences, ensuring consistency across your images.

Step 1: Select two images whose exposures you want to match. The first image selected will be the reference to match to.
Step 2: Choose Settings and Match Total Exposures
Step 3: The selected images will have similar exposures

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2. Visualise Spots

The ‘Visualise Spots’ tool under the Spot Removal tool helps you identify dust spots or blemishes in your photos that are hard to see. This feature overlays a high-contrast, black and white preview of your image, making it easier to spot imperfections.


Where to Find It

In the Develop module, under the Spot Removal tool (Q), you’ll find the Visualise Spots checkbox at the bottom toolbar.

How to Use

Once enabled, you can adjust the slider to change the visualisation’s contrast. This helps in identifying and removing dust spots or blemishes on your images more efficiently.

Image: The image inversion helps you see subtle dust spots that need removing

3. Targeted Adjustment Tool (TAT)

This tool allows you to make adjustments to the Hue, Saturation, and Luminance of specific colours within an image directly from the photo itself, rather than using the

sliders in the HSL/Color panel. Simply click and drag up or down on the area of the image with the colour you wish to adjust.


Where to Find It

In the Develop module, within the HSL/Color panel, click on the circular icon next to the HSL sliders.

How to Use

After selecting this tool, click and drag up or down directly on the colour in your image you wish to adjust. This directly adjusts the Hue, Saturation, or Luminance of that colour, making it intuitive to fine-tune specific colours in your photo.

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4. Auto Mask

Within the Adjustment Brush tool, the Auto Mask feature helps to automatically detect and apply brush adjustments to areas with similar colour and tone, making it easier to avoid going over the lines when making selective adjustments.


Where to Find It

Within the Adjustment Brush tool (K) options, there’s an Auto Mask checkbox.

How to Use

When Auto Mask is enabled, Lightroom will automatically detect and constrain the brush adjustments to areas of similar colour and tone as where you first click, making it easier to apply selective adjustments without “spilling over” onto contrasting areas.

5. Survey View for Culling

The Survey View (N) in the Library module allows you to select and view multiple photos side-by-side without distractions, making it easier to compare similar shots and choose the best one. It’s a hidden gem for speeding up the culling process.


Where to Find It

In the Library module, select multiple photos you wish to compare, then click the Survey View icon (N) or press the N key.

How to Use

This displays the selected photos side by side, allowing you to visually compare and pick the best shot. It’s invaluable for narrowing down selections from shoots with many similar images.

Image: In the Library module, press N and select multiple images

6. Colour Grading

Beyond just split toning, Lightroom’s Color Grading feature gives you control over the midtones in addition to highlights and shadows, allowing for more nuanced colour correction and styling across different tonal ranges.


Where to Find It

In the Develop module, find the Color Grading panel.

How to Use

This feature replaces Split Toning, offering control over the Midtones in addition to Shadows and Highlights. You can adjust the hue and saturation for these tonal ranges separately, or use the Blending and Balance sliders for global adjustments, adding complex colour effects to your images.

7. Range Masking

Used in conjunction with the Graduated Filter, Radial Filter, or Adjustment Brush, Range Masking allows for more precise adjustments by applying the effect based on colour or luminance, giving you greater control over where your adjustments are applied.


Where to Find It

After applying a Graduated Filter, Radial Filter, or Adjustment Brush effect, you’ll find the “Range Mask” option at the bottom of the adjustment tool panel.

How to Use It

Choose between ‘Color’ or ‘Luminance’ to make your filter or brush adjustments apply more selectively based on the chosen range. For instance, you can adjust only the blue sky without affecting the landscape or highlight specific brightness levels in your image.

8. Reference View

The Reference View in the Develop module lets you display a reference photo alongside the photo you’re editing. This is especially useful for maintaining a consistent look across a series of photos or for matching edits to a specific style.


Where to Find It

In the Develop module, click the ‘R|A’ icon in the toolbar below your image to enter Reference View. If the toolbar is not visible, press ‘T’ to toggle it.

How to Use It

This view is useful for matching edits between images. Drag a reference photo into the left pane, and then as you adjust your working photo on the right, you can ensure your edits maintain consistency with the reference image.

Two photos of the Statue of Liberty merch

9. Camera Calibration Panel

At the bottom of the Develop module, the Camera Calibration panel can be used to tweak the overall colour rendition of your photos. This tool can be particularly useful for creating a specific look or correcting colours that don’t seem quite right.


Where to Find It

At the bottom of the panels on the right side in the Develop module, you’ll find the Camera Calibration panel.

How to Use It

Use this panel to adjust the primary colours’ hue and saturation to tweak the overall colour rendition of your photo. It can be particularly useful for creating a unique look or correcting colours that don’t look quite right.

10. Sync Settings Shortcut

While syncing development settings across multiple images is a known feature, using the shortcut Ctrl (Cmd on Mac) + Shift + S allows you to quickly open the Synchronise Settings dialog without navigating through menus.


How to Use It

Select the photos you wish to synchronise in the Develop module, then press ‘Ctrl’ (‘Cmd’ on Mac) + ‘Shift’ + ‘S’ to open the Synchronise Settings dialog.

Where to Find It

This isn’t a feature you find but a keyboard shortcut for quickly accessing an existing feature. It’s a faster way to sync development settings across multiple images without going through the right-click menu.

By incorporating these features into your workflow, you can unlock new creative possibilities and improve your efficiency in Adobe Lightroom Classic.

Each offers a unique way to enhance your images, whether through refined adjustments, streamlined editing processes, or new approaches to colour and exposure.

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