LIGHTROOM MOBILE: Creative Image Editing

Tips & Tricks

A Mobile Revolution

Lightroom Mobile is revolutionising how and where photographers edit their image. We can now gain access to all of our images on all of our devices and changes are synchronised automatically courtesy of Adobe’s Creative Cloud.
To start editing an image in Lightroom Mobile simply tap on an image in your Lightroom Photos or one of the photos in a ‘Collection’ you have created.

For more information on how to set up Lightroom Mobile, add and organise your photos check out the movies on the Lightroom Mobile YouTube channel.

Editing Projects Overview

One of the best ways to become comfortable with editing images in Lightroom Mobile is to follow along with a few simple ‘how-to’ projects.I have put together three projects with links to download the image used in each of the tutorials. It is advisable to complete the first two projects first before proceeding to the third as it proceeds assuming you will have some level of understanding about some of the editing procedures covered in the first two projects.
I have also prepared some movies that can be accessed here: Lightroom Mobile Tutorial Movies

Project 1: Basic


st kilda marina photograph  st kilda marina photograph edited

Project 2: B&W


Houseboat on the Stikine River Alaska  Houseboat on the Stikine River Alaska edited

Project 3: Advanced


Millennium Bridge, London  Millennium Bridge, London Edited


Project 1: Basic Edits

lightroom basic edits

St. Kilda Marina, Melbourne © Mark Galer



Download the tutorial image HERE
Lightroom Movie Tutorials

Auto Tone

Lightroom Mobile can quickly optimise an image in just a minute or two.This first example is edited on an iPad (the interface for the iPhone differs slightly).
At the base of the screen click on Edit icon and then click on the Aperture icon to reveal the seven options for optimising colour,tone and lens corrections.
If you are unsure where to start simply click on the Auto Tone button in the Basic section to apply an automated ‘quick fix’.Tap the ‘i’ icon at the top of the screen to change the available Info. I usually work with the Histogram visible in the top right-hand corner so that I can see if tones are too dark in the shadows or too light in the highlights.

lightroom auto tone


I have selected the Vibrance option by tapping the name of the adjustment feature and then dragged my finger on the scale above to the right.You don’t have to worry about precise adjustments as any adjustment you make now can be modified later without any negative impact on the image quality. If you have the option to shoot and edit in Raw/DNG you will find that you can push the edits further without any JPEG artefacts appearing.
Note > Vibrance is a little more sophisticated than the Saturation adjustment when we want to increase the richness of the colours.

lightroom vibrance


If you click on the Aperture icon you will again bring up your editing options. I have selected ‘Color/B&W’ panel (these are known as the HSL controls in the desktop version). I have then selected Saturation from the options and dragged the blue circle to the left.This cleans up the blue boats in the foreground that really should be white.
I then proceeded to tap on the Luminance option and dragged the blue dot to the right to raise the brightness of the boats.
Note > The button above all of the colours allows you to touch on any colour in the image and then drag left or right. Lightroom will auto-select the colours for you.

lightroom Color/B&W

Non-Linear Editing

Returning to the Basic panel I have decided to raise both the Exposure and Contrast of the image. It is important to note that there is no specific order to editing in Lightroom as it is a ‘non-linear’ and ‘non-destructive’ editing space. At any time I can simply tap the curved arrow in the top right-hand corner of the screen to go back or choose to Reset the image back to its original state.
All of the adjustments I am making are ‘subjective’ adjustments, i.e. there is no right or wrong to the edits.This is simply a matter of finding a way to express what I saw and felt about this scene (I find that cameras very rarely capture the emotion and reality that I have experienced).

lightroom Non-Linear Editing


In the latest iOS versions or Lightroom Mobile, Adobe Creative Cloud members are now able to make Selective edits. This includes the ability to add Linear or Radial adjustments. I have tapped Selective and then the Linear icon (recently located from the top of the screen to the left-hand side).
I have now dragged my finger from the top of the screen to the horizon line to add the graduated filter. It is then a simple matter to lower the exposure for the overly bright sky to increase the drama.
You are not restricted to a single graduated filter and you can add multiple adjustments to a single graduated filter. I have also dialled in a negative value for the Temperature to add a Cyan hue to the top of the sky.

lightroom selective edites


When you are done editing your image it is a simple matter to Share the image. Just tap the Share icon at the top of the screen and then choose whether you want to share a small image (2048px is an optimum size for Facebook and Twitter etc.) or the maximum size available. This is good where Ultra HD(4K)images would be more appropriate.
As this edited image will also be available on all your devices and in your Adobe Creative Cloud account you can share at any stage of the game.

lightroom share


As Lightroom offers a completely non-destructive editing space it is always possible to ‘Reset’ the image and just try an alternative edit. If you are synchronising your desktop Lightroom app with Lightroom Mobile, the images edited on your mobile device will appear in their edited state in the Collections panel on your computer. All of the adjustments carried out in Lightroom Mobile can be fine-tuned on any other device running Lightroom or Lightroom Mobile. It is even possible to log in to your Adobe Creative Cloud account in a web browser and edit there.
Note > If changes do not appear quickly on your other devices you can click on the Cloud icon and ‘Force Sync’ to push the changes to the Cloud immediately.

lightroom reset

Project 2: B&W

Houseboat black and white

Houseboat on the Stikine River, Alaska ©Mark Galer

Download the tutorial image HERE
Lightroom Movie Tutorials


I have chosen to Straighten this image as the first step in my Black and White conversion (just tap the Crop icon at the base of the screen to enter the Crop options). I have chosen to straighten the image manually by holding my finger on the corner of the image and sliding diagonally.Tap the check icon in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen to commit the crop.
Note > Remember that this is a non-destructive crop, so the parts of the image that are now hidden from view by the straightening process will be visible again when you re-enter the Crop dialog.

lightroom crop

Lens Corrections

If you are editing a Raw image that was captured on an Interchangeable lens camera(ILC) you are advised to go to Lens Corrections and switch the Profile Correction to ‘On’.
Note > Some cameras now have options to apply the Lens Corrections in-camera.

lightroom lens correction

B & W

In the Basic panel switch the B&W option to On and then tap the Contrast option and swipe right to raise the contrast to +75.

lightroom b&w

Color & B&W

Tap the Aperture icon (on the left side of the adjustments to access the other panels options) and then choose Color/B&W. Tap the Luminance Option and then drag the blur dot to the left to darken the blues. Notice how the Sky will become a lot more dramatic with this adjustment. Sliding the Red, Orange and Yellow dots to the right will give render the river bank behind the houseboat lighter.

lightroom Color/B&W


Choose the Vignetting Panel, and then tap the ‘Amount’ option. Swipe left on the scale to lower the amount to -20.
Note > Selecting the ‘Color’ Style option, as opposed to the Highlights options will prevent some of the darker tones in the corners losing too much detail.

lightroom Vignetting

Selective: Radial

The introduction of ‘Selective’ edits to Lightroom Mobile (for Adobe Creative Cloud members) has greatly increased the performance capabilities of the app.
The age old skills of ‘dodging’ and ‘burning’ areas of tone lighter or darker are a key ingredient to the effectiveness of creating a dramatic Black & White image.
Tap the Selective Edit icon and then tap the Radial option.Tap and drag outwards from the centre of the hut until the red masking colour completely covers the boathouse.Then tap the Exposure option and swipe right to raise the value to +0.50EV. This will help draw the viewer’s eye towards the focal point of the image.

lightroom Selective: Radial

Selective: Linear

Tap on the ‘Linear’ option and then tap and drag down from the top of the mountains to the top of the boathouse. Adjust the Exposure to -0.33EV and the Highlights to -50. Raising the Shadows value to +50 will make sure we protect the tonal values of the mountain in the top right-hand corner.

lightroom Selective: Linear

Selective: Linear

We are not restricted to a single Linear or Radial adjustment. If you tap the Linear icon a second time we will have the option to add a second linear adjustment.
Tap and drag from the base of the image to the bottom of the houseboat and then lower the Exposure value to -1.00EV.
Note > Only one Selective Adjustment can be active at any time so if you need to modify a previous Selective adjustment simply tap on the small blue square to make that the active adjustment.

lightroom Linear adjustment

Whites and Blacks

It is typical in most Black and White images to use a full range of tones. When applying lots of Selective edits it is advisable to visit the Blacks and Whites in the Basic panel before signing off on the edit. Select Whites from the adjustments and then place two fingers on the scale and swipe to the right. Lightroom will go into what is called ‘Threshold’ or ‘Clipping’ view. If you have selected the Whites adjustment you will only see tones that are ‘clipped’ to absolute white.The way to find the optimum White point for the image is to slide right until see you small areas of tone appear and then back off slightly until the screen goes black again.
The light source or its reflection (called a ‘specular highlight’) should clip. Repeat the process with the Blacks adjustment.

lightroom whites and blacks

Project 3: Advanced

Millennium Bridge edited lightroom

Millennium Bridge, London ©Mark Galer

Download the tutorial image HERE
Lightroom Movie Tutorials

Profile, Crop and Auto Tone

The first three adjustments I made to this image was to Straighten the image in the Crop options, switch the ‘Profile Correction’ to ‘On’ in the ‘Lens Corrections’ panel and then tap the Auto Tone option in the Basic Panel. These adjustment features were covered in more detail in the previous two projects.
Note > The precise order of editing in Lightroom is not important.

lightroom Profile, Crop and Auto Tone

Basic Corrections

I have fine tuned the Colour and Tonality in this project by raising the Vibrance to +75, the Saturation to +20, the Clarity to +25. I also fine-tuned the Auto Tone adjustment by raising the Exposure to +1.70EV, the Contrast to +50 and the Shadows to +47. l also lowered the Highlights to -47 and raised the ‘Color Temperature’ to 6150K.

lightroom basic corrections

Color / B & W

The overly saturated Cyan colours were brought into check in the Color/B&W by sliding the ‘Aqua’ dot to the left to a value of -62.

Color / B & W adjustment

Selective: Radial

I have used a Radial graduated filter from the Selective edits to lighten the two central figures on the bridge by a value of +0.50EV.

selective radial tool

Selective: Linear

The first of two Linear graduated filters dropped the exposure of the sky by -2.00EV while raising the Saturation to +20.
Clicking the Linear option a second time allowed me to add a second graduated filter rising from the base of the image to the feet of the two figures. This second graduated filter dropped the ‘Exposure’ slightly, while raising the ‘Saturation’ and lowering the ‘Color Temperature’.These adjustments were made so that the wet paving stones in the foreground are seen to reflect the rich warm tones visible in the sky.

selective linear tool

Vignetting and Basics Revisited

A ‘Color Vignette’ with a value of -30 was added from the ‘Vignetting’ panel and then I returned to the ‘Basic’ panel to fine-tune the adjustments. Contrast and Shadows were both raised to +70. It is often necessary to fine-tune Basic adjustments after applying ‘Selective’ edits and creative Vignetting.
Note > There is no negative impact to image quality that will result from making multiple adjustments using the same controls.

Vignetting and Basics

Noise Reduction

A combination of a raised ISO setting in the camera+underexposure and major editing in Lightroom has given rise to increased levels of Noise. Noise Reduction is available in Lr Mobile in the Presets section. Go to Detail > Noise Reduction 2 (Med). Noise Reduction will take several seconds before the image preview shows the effects of this particular adjustment. By the time you return to the Basic panel you should see a substantial improvement in the levels of noise visible in this image.

lightroom Noise Reduction

These three projects highlight just how effective Lightroom Mobile has become as a sophisticated editing tool for both images captured with your mobile device but also for images captured with keen amateur and professional ILC cameras.

You can also download a PDF of this tutorial: Lightroom Mobile Editing by Mark Galer


Tips & Tricks

Posted on 12-22-2016

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