6 Secrets about Lightroom You Didn't Know - Digital Darkroom Academy

6 Secrets about Lightroom You Didn’t Know

Lightroom is quiet an amazing software and it has many amazing tools and features. While many of the tools in Lightroom are straightforward, there are some tools that are hidden from plain sight. They are not that commonly known. Today, I want to share 6 of these hidden secrets about Lightroom with you.

Subscribe on YouTube

1. Crop Tool Overlays

In the Develop module, when you’re using the Crop tool, you see these gray grid lines that help you with the composition while you’re cropping your photograph. These are called Crop Overlays. By default, it is set to Thirds, which helps you follow the famous Rule of Thirds of composition.

One of the secrets about Lightroom here is that the Thirds is not the only Crop Overlay you have. You can change these overlays. You can go to the Tools menu and in that at the bottom, you’ll find an option called Crop Guide Overlay. It opens a sub-menu from where you can choose from the different options available to you there.

secrets about Lightroom

The options you have available to you there are Grid, Thirds, Diagonal, Triangle, Golden Ratio, Golden Spiral and Aspect Ratio. These different overlays assist you in different ways to crop your photograph.

crop overlays in lightroom

Shortcut: If you press the O key, it will cycle through these different crop overlays and pressing Shift-O will change the orientation of the overlay from portrait to landscape or vice versa.

2. Display All Shortcuts

There are a lot of things in Lightroom that have shortcuts, which obviously make your workflow faster. But, it can be a little difficult to remember all the different shortcuts, especially if you’re just starting out.

If you want to see these shortcuts all at one place, you can simply press Ctrl – / on a PC or Cmd – / on a Mac; and that’ll show all the shortcuts for that module. So, if you’re in the Library Module, the shortcuts you’ll see, will only be for the Library module. If you’re in the Develop module, you’ll see the shortcuts for that.

lightroom shortcuts

3. Edit Capture Time

There may be times when you’ve gone to a vacation in another country where the time zone is different, or Daylight-Saving Time starts in your own country and you forgot to update the time on your camera. And now, the time on your photographs is not the correct time. Can you do anything about it? Well, yes. This is another one of the secrets about Lightroom. Lightroom makes it pretty easy to change the capture time of the photograph.

In order to change the capture time, simply select the photo(s) and go to the Metadata menu and from there choose the option Edit Capture Time. That’ll open up the Edit Capture Time dialog box.

secrets about Lightroom

In that dialog box, you have three options.

  • Adjust to a specified date and time: This allows you to specify a time and date and whatever time and date you will enter, that’ll become the new capture date for the photo.
  • Shift by a set number of hours: This one is for when you need to adjust the time by a certain number of hours to make up for time zone difference.
  • Change to file’s creation date: This option is used if you have accidentally changed the time when you didn’t really want to and now you want to reset it to the date of creation of the file.

4. Graduated Filter Refinements

Sometimes we need to use the graduated filter to make adjustments to only some part of the photograph. The most popular use for the graduated filter is when we need to make the sky more dramatic in our landscape photographs. I have this photo I took on a trip to the Swat Valley in Northern Pakistan. It’s a really beautiful place and I got some amazing shots there. Now, I want to add the graduated filter onto the sky with exposure a little bit down. But, I don’t want it to have its effect on the mountains.

Norhtern Pakistan mountains photo

I’ll select the graduated filter, I’ll take the exposure down to -1.50 and draw out using the filter. But when I do, it applies the adjustment all around. Even the mountains start to get dark. I don’t want that.

graduated filter

Here’s the interesting part. I can refine this graduated filter so that it doesn’t come over the mountains. I can remove the part of the graduated filter that’s overlapping the mountains. I can do that, by going to Brush option in the panel on the right.

secrets about Lightroom

Now, with the brush I can really refine where the graduated filter affects the photo and where it doesn’t. By pressing the Alt key, I change this brush into an eraser. Keeping it pressed, I can erase this mask from over the mountains and that way, I can have the effect of the graduated filter only over the sky.

secrets about Lightroom

5. The Shadows Slider

There will be some photographs that have ended up really dark in the camera while you were shooting and when you realized that they’ve turned out that dark, it was too late! But, you realize that you’ve taken them in RAW. So, you can take out the details using the Shadows slider. But, on some photographs, even that doesn’t quiet do the job well.

Now, if you’ve used Lightroom in its previous versions, especially before version 4, you would remember that these exposure sliders weren’t always like this. There wasn’t the Highlights, Shadows, Blacks and Whites. What was there instead was two sliders called Fill Light and Recovery.




Learn how to use Lightroom to get organized, create amazing photos and cut your editing time in half.

The Fill Light slider used to do what this Shadow slider does now. But it did in a way that it took out much more detail in the shadows than what we get right now. You can see the difference in the photo below. The top photo has been adjusted using the Shadows slider taken all the way to 100. The photo at the bottom, using the Fill Light slider taken up to 95. The Fill Light definitely took out a lot more detail than the Shadows slider.

slider effects
Comparison between Shadows and Fill Light sliders


So, can we get the Fill Light slider now in this version of Lightroom CC? Well, yes, we can!

What we have to do is simply scroll down to the Camera Calibration panel, go to this menu called Process and choose 2010 from there. That will change the Process Version of the photo to 2010.

camera calibration

Now, if you go back to the Basic panel; you’ll notice the sliders are the way they used to be before version 4 of Lightroom. We have the Fill Light & the Recovery sliders there.

lightroom sliders
The Basic Panel now has Fill Light and Recovery sliders

A word of warning though. All the other sliders will now also act the same way they used to before Lightroom’s version 4; and the results for those aren’t as nice. And the other bad news is that, you can’t mix and match. If you change the process version to 2010, ALL the sliders go back to that. So, my recommendation would be to only go back to this Process Version in situations where there’s no other option left. Photos that have gone really dark and can’t be recovered by any other means.

6. Quickly Edit Videos in Lightroom

This one is my favorite. Although Lightroom is more about photographs, but you can do a few things with video too. But, usually if you go into the Develop module, Lightroom gives a message “Video is not Supported in Develop”. So, how do you edit video? There are a few different ways that you can, but the easiest way to do it is to use the Capture Frame option in the Library module to capture a JPEG from the video.

edit videos in lightroom

Now, you can apply all the edits to this JPEG in the Develop module. Once you’re happy with how it looks, you can select the JPEG and the video file together and press the Sync… button and that’ll apply all the settings from the JPEG to the video.

secrets about Lightroom

Now, I can come back to the Library module, play my video and I’ll find that my video has those edits applied on to it. Just giving you a heads up. You can’t apply everything in the Develop module to a video. There are only a few settings that will get applied and they’re all global adjustments. None of the local adjustments can be applied to video. At least, not in Lightroom. You can learn about this in detail in our post: How to Edit Videos in Lightroom.

These were the 6 hidden secrets in Lightroom I wanted to share with you. Isn’t this going to make your Lightroom experience a lot better? I bet it will. Now, I am curious. Are there any things that you know about that are a hidden feature in Lightroom? I want to hear all of them. Let me know in the comments section!

Shajee Aijazi

Shajee Aijazi is the founder of Digital Darkroom Academy. He helps people speed up their post-processing workflow and organize their photos in a way that they don't have to waste time managing it and they can focus on creating great looking images.

View all posts

The Ultimate Quick Start Guide for Lightroom

In this free guide, I will take you through the basics of Lightroom to so you feel more confident.

Subscribe to Our YouTube Channel

Recent Posts



 A mini-course that teaches you a step-by-step system that you can use to take your photos from boring to amazing in no time.



Learn how to use Lightroom to get organized, create amazing photos and cut your editing time in half!