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I love taking pictures but I (almost) enjoy editing pictures even more. These few examples were executed inside of Adobe Lightroom but can be done in any photo editing software. This top ten list is very subjective in the way I use each step BUT I do strongly believe that each of these adjustments (whether more or less in intensity) will change your picture for the better. I added the Lightroom effects box in the final photo so you can see the changes. *All of these pictures were taken with an iPhone 6.

1. SHADOWS

I tend to fiddle with this one first, especially if I have human subjects in the foreground. The Shadows setting will boost any dark area and make it look more detailed. It’s astonishing on faces.

2. CLARITY

Clarity is the second one I play with to make my images pop a little more. It will make every edge crisp and intensify the feeling. Don’t go overboard with this setting on faces but it works wonders on cityscapes.

3. VIBRANCE

Playing with Vibrance (up or down) affects the general color. In combination with Clarity, it can make your picture look like a dystopian future type image.

4. SATURATION

To be used in moderation, Saturation affects the color intensity. A few percentages up and your blues and reds all of a sudden will bleed all over.

5. WHITES

Plays with the intensity of whites in the picture. This setting is fun to use since it only affects the pure white part of the picture, boosting it up or bringing it down. I usually boost it just a tad to wash my whites and not get into boring grays.

6. BLACKS

The same as the Whites, Blacks will affect the darkest part of your picture. I usually bring this one down to make sure my blacks are as dark as possible.

7. EXPOSURE

I only play with this one if my picture needs a lot of work. It can usually only be played with by very small increments before blowing out a picture.

8. CONTRAST

Playing with this setting between -60 and +20 will yield the best results. Anything beyond those will really change the feel of your picture but then again that might be what you want 😉

9. HIGHLIGHT

Very similar to Whites, it will boost or diminish your white sections.

10. GRADUATED FILTERS

The most underused techniques by amateurs are the gradient filters that can be easily applied inside of Lightroom and Photoshop. In most of my picture I usually have a few of these going in various directions with different levels of temperature, tint, exposure, saturation and clarity. They make a whole lot of difference when you are trying to bring the attention to a single part of a photo. It’s like focusing on objects or people without pointing arrows at them.