On this blog I talk about cameras, lenses and the tools that I use to make photographs. So, I would be remiss not to talk about a tool that is one of the most essential pieces of my entire photography workflow, Adobe Lightroom.
Without Lightroom I would not be able to shoot, edit and share as quickly as I do. More than just a photo filing cabinet and editor, Lightroom is a photographer’s sandbox, allowing you to try things out and play with every aspect of a photo in a completely non destructive environment.
One of the many things I love about Lightroom is the keyboard shortcuts. I’m a huge fan of using the keyboard in general to move around within a program, and Adobe has always been great about their implementation of “one key” shortcuts to allow you to get things done fast. I use these one key shortcuts to move from module to module in Lightroom, pick different tools, and to organize and view variations on photos.
One thing about keyboard shortcuts in Lightroom if you’re not familiar with them — unless noted, you just need to tap one letter. No command or control key combination, just the letter.
B – Quick Collection
When you’re dealing with a library of tens of thousands of photos, there are many times that you want to “collect” up a subset of photos for something. Tapping the “b” key adds a photo to the “Quick Collection”, a default collection that Lightroom has set up. You’ll also see a a small, grey opaque circle in the top right corner of the photo that’s been collected, indicating that it’s part of the quick collection. Tapping the “b” key again will remove it from the collection.
PRO TIP: The plus (+) next to the Quick Collection signifies that it’s the “target collection”. This means that anytime you tap the “b” key, your photo will be added there. But, did you know you can set ANY collection as the target collection? Just right click on a collection and select “Set as Target Collection”. That collection will now have a plus (+) next to it indicating that it’s the target collection and pressing the “b” key will add any photos to it.
V – Toggle Black & White
Often I want a quick peek at how a photo may look in black and white before I proceed with a full on black and white processing. Under the “Basic” panel in Lightroom’s develop module, you can click on the words “Black & White” to do this, but there’s an even faster way. Select any photo in any module (Library, Develop etc.) at any size and tap the “v” key. This will change the photo to black and white so you can make a quick decision if it’s the path you’d like to take. Don’t like how it looks? Tap the “v” key again to toggle back to color.
R – Activate cropping tools and overlay
This is probably one of my most used shortcut keys, and often how I enter the Develop module from the Library module. Tap the “r” key when you’ve selected a photo in any module, and it will take you into the develop module and activate the cropping tools and overlay. Cropping is an essential part of my workflow, so much so that I wrote an entire post on it.
\ – Toggle between before and after versions
Whenever I wanted to see how a photo looked before I started processing it, I would usually go back to the bottom of my history stack and click on the step when the photo was imported. Then, I would scroll back to the top and click on my current step to how it looked now. Thankfully, there’s an easier way! While you have the photo selected in the Develop module, tap the “\” (backslash) key. This will show you a “before” version. Tap it again to show you an “after” version.
I – Toggle Information
One of the best parts of digital photography is having all of the information about a photo at your fingertips. The time the photo was shot, the size, the aperture, focal length, ISO and shutter speed are all very important things that we want to see sometimes and don’t want to see other times. By tapping the “i” key in Lightroom you can toggle between:
- No text overlay
- Filename, date, photo resolution in pixels
- Filename, aperture, ISO, focal length and lens used
In my opinion, keyboard shortcuts are a crucial part of an effective workflow in Lightroom. Without them, I wouldn’t be able to move around and manage the thousands of photos that I’ve taken in an efficient manner.
Do you use keyboard shortcuts in Lightroom? What are your favorites? Let me know in the comments and make sure to check out the follow up to this article, 5 Essential Keyboard Shortcuts in Lightroom: Part 2, for more time saving Lightroom hotkeys.