Lightroom on Mobile Tutorial

Lightroom on Mobile Tutorial

Lightroom on MobileLooking for a Lightroom on Mobile tutorial? You’ve come to the right place. 

Lightroom on mobile not only is a great camera app but also one of the most powerful photography editing tools on the market. It’s a perfect solution for photographers who want more control over their smartphone camera – and also the ability to sync their photo collections to any device.

With Lightroom Mobile, you can edit on the go without being tied down to a desktop machine.

There are often times that need to do some quick edits before you get home. This is where Lightroom Mobile is a game-changer. 

Maybe you’re a wedding photographer whose client asks you to post a few reception photos to social media. Or you’re a travel or landscape photographer who wants to share the beauty of your location with friends and family before you return home.

All of these situation are tailor-made for Lightroom Mobile.

The best news? The Lightroom Mobile app won’t cost you a penny. But there is a slight catch. 

Free, With a Slight Catch

The Lightroom Mobile app is an extension of Lightroom CC, Adobe’s Cloud-based storage and editing suite. Nearly all of the features included in Lightroom CC are also available on the Lightroom mobile app.

For example, you can do all basic edits like exposure, white balance, contrast, highlights, shadows, cropping, sharpening, noise reduction etc.

But without a paid subscription to Adobe’s Photography Plan, you’ll miss out on the app’s most powerful features.

Adobe Photography Plan Inclusions

A subscription includes access to Lightroom Classic (the desktop version of Lightroom that has powerful cataloging features), Lightroom CC (the cloud-based version of Lightroom) and Photoshop CC (Photoshop in the cloud.)

While you can definitely use the Lightroom Mobile app without a subscription, you’ll miss out on some amazing features.

A Subscription Opens Up Access to Extra Lightroom Tools


Selections tool in Lightroom MobileA paid subscription give you access to Lightroom Mobile’s Selective Edit tools (which allows you to make local edits.)

You also have access to other Adobe editing tools, such as Photoshop Mix, Photoshop Fix, Adobe Spark Page, Adobe Spark Video, and more.

Want to create an online portfolio of your best images? A subscription to Adobe’s Photography Plan gives you a free customizable website too.

But RAW file handling is what sets the paid version of Lightroom Mobile apart from the competition.

RAW Shooting and Editing on Lightroom Mobile

Have RAW photos that you haven’t imported into Lightroom Albums yet that you’d like to edit on your device?

Then use the Lightning to SD card adapter for Apple devices, or an SD card reader for Android. After import, bring them into Lightroom Mobile and edit the same way you would if the photo was part of your Lightroom Albums.

If you’re concerned that RAW photos will take up a lot of storage on your phone, Adobe is one step ahead of you. They created Smart Previews to solve this issue.

Smart Previews on Lightroom CC/Mobile

smart previews in lightroom mobileSurprisingly, huge RAW files sync’d over from Lightroom CC to Lightroom Mobile take up little storage space on your device if  you saved them as Smart Previews. (This is the default import setting in Lightroom Mobile.)

According to Adobe, “Smart Previews in Lightroom Classic CC allow you to edit images that are not physically connected to your computer. Smart Preview files are a lightweight, smaller, file format, based on the lossy DNG file format.”

1 GB of photos only take up about 25-50 MB of storage when saved as Smart Previews or around 2% of the space needed to store RAW files.

If you want to avoid importing RAW files that aren’t Smart Previews due to storage constraints, you can choose that option in your settings under ‘Cloud Storage and Sync.’

But can Lightroom Mobile edit photos shot on your iPhone or Android? Sure it can, and even better, it’s an awesome camera app!

The camera options help you get it right to cut back your editing workflow.

Access Your Lightroom Presets and Profiles


Lightroom Mobile presetsAny presets or profiles you uploaded to the desktop version of Lightroom will automatically sync to your Lightroom mobile app – without you having to lift a finger. 

A common question I get is “Can I upload Lightroom Presets directly  from my mobile app?” 

The answer at this time is “No.” 

The best workaround if you want to add Presets to your mobile device is to upload them on the desktop version of Lightroom, where they’ll automatically sync to your mobile device. 

At the present time, bulk editing by applying presets to entire Lightroom Albums is not yet a Lightroom Mobile feature. 

The best you can do is apply presets in bulk in the Lightroom desktop app, then tweak them in Lightroom Mobile. 


Using Lightroom Mobile as Your Camera App


Camera Options for LIghtroom MobileNow here’s where things really get fun! Lightroom Mobile is a full-featured camera app as well as a remarkable editing tool.

Access the camera by clicking on the camera icon located at the bottom right of your phone’s screen. Once the camera opens, click on the three dots on the top right of your screen.

On the top of your screen, you’ll see the flash options when you click on the Lightning icon. You can set your flash to AUTO, off or on. I recommend that you turn your flash off unless you’re in a specific situation that needs it.

Lightroom Mobile has three shooting modes:  Automatic, Professional or HDR (High Dynamic Range.)

Naturally, Professional and HDR mode give you more options.

Automatic Shooting Mode Options

Adjust exposure by swiping left or right. Choose to shoot wide angle or telephone by toggling on the “T’ or “W” icon at the bottom of your screen. Lock exposure by clicking the lock icon or apply presets by clicking the two circles on the bottom right of your screen.

Set your preferred file format to DNG (smaller version of a RAW file) or JPG by clicking on the top of your screen. I recommend that you leave your format set to the default DNG.  

Choose your aspect ratio, set a timer, or apply a grid or level by tapping the three dots at the top of the screen on the right hand side. The grid and level feature is a huge help to get your horizons straight.

Professional & HDR Shooting Mode Options

access pro mode in the lightroom mobile cameraAlong with the main options available in Automatic mode, professional mode allows you to adjust white balance, exposure, ISO, shutter speed for more control over your photo.

Usually, photographers have to decide whether to expose for the highlights or for the shadows and then fix the difference in post processing. That’s where HDR mode can help bridge that gap between bright and dark. 

Lightroom Mobile’s HDR mode automatically scans your scene to determine the correct exposure range and then captures three bracketed DNG files. Lightroom then merges the three files and tone maps then automatically.

Try HDR mode the next time you shoot a landscape or architecture photo with your phone and see the huge difference it makes! 

Now that you know how to capture photos with Lightroom Mobile’s built-in camera feature, here’s what you need to know before you share your photos.

Lightroom Mobile Photo Sharing Options

Adding a watermark with Lightroom mobileIf you didn’t apply a watermark when you sync’d your photos in Lightroom CC, you can still add a simple text watermark in Lightroom Mobile.

To apply a watermark, access the settings on the Lightroom Mobile homepage and choose “Sharing Options.” 


Just as in the desktop version Lightroom , you can choose one of ten anchor points and select the text size, offset and opacity for your watermark.

As well as including a watermark, you can also choose to include the photos metadata, camera & Camera RAW info, as well as a caption and location information.


Try Lightroom Mobile for Yourself

Lightroom Mobile is an amazing tool for amateur and professional photographers alike. Download the free app and try out its many options today.

If you’d like some help editing your photos shot on Lightroom Mobile or even on your DSLR or mirrorless, check out my FREE training, “The 5 Step Editing Recipe.”

Editing is fun and easy with my Recipe, so why not join me for this workshop? 

Sign up by clicking the image below!

Action Sports in Low Light

Action Sports in Low Light

Action Sports in Low Light

You took yourself out to the ball game last night, hoping to capture some great action shots. 

Deciding to relax a bit, you set your camera on ‘Auto’ mode. Then you have a great evening cheering for the home team, and enjoying some ballpark food (and maybe even consuming an adult beverage or two.) 

To top it all off, your team comes from behind to win the game in the last inning. Your night just couldn’t get any better! 

But when you get home and look at your photos, your victory smile vanishes. A furrow grows between your brows…

A lot of your photos are nothing but a blur. 

And many of your shots are just too dark to be usable. 

What the heck just happened? 

What the Heck Just Happened? 


What happened was the photographer’s trifecta of sorrow. 

The result? Not only did your photos turn out  blurry and dark…they’re grainy too!

So what can you do? 

When you want to capture action sports in low-light you have to plan ahead.

What to Know Before You Head to the Game – and What to Avoid

 It’s crucial that you fully understand the exposure triangle before you hit the field.

And not only do you need to understand which lenses to use – but also know which ones to avoid when lighting is less than ideal. 

But armed with a little knowledge you can capture exceptional action sports photos in low light. 

Your Shutter Speed Must Be Fast

A shutter speed that’s too slow is the usually the main culprit whenever you see a blurry photo.

Although you might think that your blurry photo is out of focus, it’s probably not the case.  It’s much more likely that your shutter speed was too low to freeze motion in a moving subject. 

How low is too low? 

Consider the level the players are at when deciding what shutter speed you need for a crisp, clear photo.

What do I mean?

A Shutter Speed Fast Enough for Elementary School Athletes Isn’t Fast Enough for College Athletes

Seven-year-olds playing tee ball are fast, but nowhere near as fast as a high school varsity basketball team. And high school athletes aren’t as fast as elite college level or pro athletes are. 

For elementary-school aged kids, I’d start with a shutter speed of 1/400 then check for motion. 

I’d keep bumping up my shutter speed until I was satisfied that I had frozen motion in my subject. 

Older, more elite athletes require even fast shutter speeds all the way up to 1/1000 in order to freeze motion. 

Fast Shutter Speed Tradeoffs

But as with everything in photography, there are trade offs. A fast shutter speed does freeze motion, but it also has an unintended effect. 

The faster your shutter speed, the darker your image becomes. 

It’s like Newton stated so many years ago: “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” 

So when your shutter speed is very fast, it doesn’t give the sensor as much time to record the light. 

The result is a darker image – something you don’t need when the light is not great in the first place.  

So what can you do to lighten up that image? 

One thing you can do is to shoot with a wide aperture. 

However if you shoot with a kit lens, it will definitely limit you in low light conditions. 

Your Kit Lens Won’t Cut It in Low Light

For photographers just starting out, it’s great that most camera manufacturers sell their entry level cameras as part of a kit, commonly along with an f4-5.6 18-55mm lens. 

These lenses work great on a nice sunny day when you can safely close down your aperture.  But when the sun goes down, kit lens drawbacks quickly appear. 

Below is an illustration of the differences in aperture size between f-stops.

Illustration by Cbuckley

I think the illustration helps to understand why kit lenses don’t work well in low light.

Your kit lens with a maximum aperture of f4-5.6 only allows half as much light in through its as a lens with a maximum aperture of f2.8. 

To capture action sports in low light, the sweet spot for your aperture is f2.8 – f4. And most kit lenses have a maximum aperture of f4-5.6, which is less than optimal in low light conditions. 

What About a ‘Nifty-Fifty’ Lens?

I always recommend a 50mm f1.8 lens as an inexpensive option for both new and experienced photographers.

But although this lens will open up to f1.8, and creates sharp, detailed photos, its drawback for capturing action sports is that you can’t zoom in with it. 

With a prime lens you have to zoom with your feet by moving closer to the action. (Of course this may not always be possible, especially if you are photographing collegiate or pro sports.) 

This is one time that shooting with a crop sensor camera can be a real advantage. 

Crop Sensor Cameras and Sports Photography

With a crop sensor camera like the Canon Rebel or Nikon DX series that you effectively gain focal length because of the magnification factor of the smaller sensor. 

A crop sensor effectively adds focal length of approximately 1.5x, which makes shooting with a 50mm more like shooting with a 75mm.

In other words, you can zoom in closer without needing huge heavy telephoto lenses. 

If you have a bigger budget, then by all means go for a f-2.8 70-200mm lens so you can zoom in close on your subject.

This doesn’t mean that you necessarily need a brand-new lens from your camera manufacturer though!

There’s Nothing Wrong with Used or Third-Party Lenses

Don’t rule out used lenses as an option when you’re ready to upgrade. Sometimes you can pick up a great deal.

You may already know that can pick up some great deals on Ebay and the Facebook Marketplace. But you may not know that reputable camera stores like B & H Photo have used departments where you can score big discounts on used equipment. 

As well as name-brand lenses, consider lenses made by third party manufacturers like Sigma, Tamron and Tokina because they offer excellent quality for far less than you’d pay for a name-brand lens.

Another way to get more light into your sensor when lighting conditions are less than ideal is to increase your ISO. 

But again, be prepared for a trade off.

Higher ISO = Increased Light Sensitivity = Increased Risk of Noise

Turning up your ISO allows you to shoot at the faster shutter speeds needed to freeze motion in low light because it increases your camera sensor’s sensitivity to light. 

Shooting at high ISO can introduce noise into your images, so many photographers are hesitant to turn up their ISO.

But if you’re only interested in posting your image to social media instead of printing your images, then noise is less of an issue. 

(The larger your print, the more imperfections you’ll see in your images.) 

But that doesn’t mean you should avoid turning up your ISO if you need to shoot at a fast shutter speed.

Don’t Be Afraid to Turn Up Your ISO

You might be quite surprised how high you can push your ISO without any significant consequences, despite all the fear-mongering on popular photography forums. 

Most modern DSLR and mirrorless cameras introduce a minimum of noise at ISOs of 1000 – 1250, so don’t be afraid to turn up your ISO if needed.

Plus, if you shoot in RAW mode, you can easily reduce any noise in Lightroom or Adobe Camera RAW. 

To follow are more tips on capturing athletes in dark gyms and outdoor nighttime events. 

More Tips for Shooting Action Sports in Low Light


Here are a few more quick tips on how to capture action photos in low light. Combine these tips with the advice above for some incredible sports photos.


  • Don’t use flash – while it might be tempting to try flash to add a little more light to the scene, the reality is that light from a flash falls off quickly and will likely never reach the field.  All flash will do is annoy the people around you. If for some reason you do decide to use flash at a sporting event, make sure you have permission from the facility first (flash is banned in many stadiums.) 
  • Artificial lights and low-light can create some funky color-casts – Turn your white balance to tungsten for regular bulbs or fluorescent for shooting under fluorescent light. Or let your camera figure out the white balance with AUTO white balance. You can always use the eye-dropper in Lightroom or Photoshop to make a correction to your white balance in post-processing. 
  • Use continuous focus – trying to adjust your focus manually while capturing action is just too much for mere mortals. Instead, use a continuous focus mode like AI-Servo to keep your subject in focus at all times. 
  • Shoot in burst mode – because athletes move fast! You’ll end up taking more photos than in single shot mode, so you have more chances to freeze motion in your subjects 
  • JPG instead of RAW (maybe!) – While I generally advise students to shoot in RAW mode, if you decide to use burst mode, you might prefer to use JPG. The reason is that RAW files are so large that you’ll fill your memory card fast in burst mode. Or stick to RAW, but be sure to use a memory card with large storage capacity like the SanDisk 128GB Extreme PRO UHS-I SDXC Memory Card. I would also keep some backup cards handy in my bag because memory cards can and do fail on occasion. 
  • Crouch down and shoot up – it makes the athletes look more powerful and impressive. 
  • Shoot in Shutter Priority mode – if you’re nervous about getting your camera settings right, shoot in Shutter Priority Mode. In this mode, you only need to select your shutter speed and the camera will take care of the ISO and aperture settings. 

Don’t Forget to Have Fun!

Above all, don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Practice makes perfect, so try out these tips the next time you want to capture sports when the lights are low. 

We’d love to see your action sports in low light photos on our Facebook page! 

Here’s the link to join us:


Afflilate link disclaimer: If you purchase from the links on this page, I will receive a small commission. This helps me to keep bringing more helpful content like this to you.

6 Times You Shouldn’t Go Without a Tripod

6 Times You Shouldn’t Go Without a Tripod

6 Times You Shouldn’t Go Without a Tripod


Do you ever worry that your images aren’t as tack-sharp as you’d like them to be?

It’s disappointing to come home from a shoot and realize that your images are a little soft. But it’s even more devastating when you realize that you only have a handful of decent images to show your clients.

If there is one piece of gear  you can count on to help you get the kind of images that are crisp, clear and ‘all-round-amazing!’…

It’s the…(drum roll, please)

Humble tripod.

You know that thing with the three legs that you brought home from the store and promptly chucked in your closet? Yes, that thing!

Let’s look at some situations when (and why!) using a tripod make a huge difference in the quality of your images. 


#1 Shooting at Shutter Speeds Below 1/60″

 You say you have some fancy tricks to shoot steady at slower shutter speeds without a tripod, like bracing yourself against a building and holding your breath as you press the shutter release?

Trust me, I’ve been there, done that and bought the blue v-neck t-shirt.

While there will be times when you have no other choice but to put yourself through a few contortions to get a decent shot, it’s a heckuva lot easier just to put your camera on a tripod before you start your session. 

Yes, you can use a few tricks to shoot at shutter speeds below 1/60″, but at some point you’re going to have to breathe.

And if you’re shooting in low-light conditions, you couldn’t possibly hold your breath long enough for a decent exposure (at least not without turning blue in the process!) 

It’s true that if you have a lens or camera with image stabilization, you can probably hand hold a few stops slower than 1/60″, but even it has its limitations. 

If you’re shooting at 1/60″ or slower, do yourself a favor.

Just get out your tripod.

#2 You Shoot with Long, Heavy Lenses

Sports or wildlife photographer?

No doubt you’re using extra long lenses in order to zoom in close on your subject.

The extra length adds a lot of weight to the lenses too. And that means they are even harder to hold steady without introducing camera shake.

I would never suggest hand holding these type of lenses unless your name happens to be Chuck Norris. 

If you need to move around a lot and a tripod isn’t practical, try using a monopod instead. 

#3 When You Want to Avoid High ISO

In low light conditions, you’ll often need to turn up your ISO in order to get a good exposure. (Increasing ISO makes your camera sensor more sensitive to light.) 

Even though you can open up your aperture as wide as possible to let in more light, at some point the lens will max out. You’ll have no other choice but to increase your ISO to get a correct exposure in this case.

But when you turn up your ISO, you also risk introducing noise into your photo.

While you can eliminate a lot of noise in post-processing, it’s always better to keep your ISO turned down as low as possible.

Mounting your camera on a tripod helps you to reduce ISO because it also allows you to slow your shutter speed. (A slow shutter speed allows extra light to reach your camera’s sensor and create a correct exposure even when your ISO is turned down. ) 

#4 Bracketing Your Photos

If you’re a landscape photographer, bracketing is a popular technique to get more detail out of the shadows and highlights.

The technique consists of taking three identical photos at different exposures, although taking as many as five isn’t uncommon.

Typically, the first photo of the series is deliberately underexposed one stop, the second one correctly exposed and the third overexposed one stop.

Because you don’t want anything else to change even slightly until you’ve completed your bracketed shots, using a tripod to capture bracketed images is essential. 

#5 Astrophotography and Other Long Exposures

It all comes down to this:

a) Astrophotography consists of very long exposures, sometimes lasting for minutes.

b) You can’t hand-hold longer than 1/60″ 0f a second without introducing camera shake.

There is is no real alternative but use a tripod if you want to capture star trails and other types of astrophotography, such as photographing the Milky Way and photographing the moon. 

In fact, any type of long exposure, such as capturing fireworks or showing motion in moving water calls for a tripod. 

#6 – Creative Portraiture

While of course a tripod isn’t necessary to capture a portrait, there are times when it will help you create a more unique photo.

The photo above is an example that shows a frozen subject with motion all around them to convey the hustle and bustle of a busy train station. 

Another technique is uses a long exposure where your subject is still, but there is movement going on behind them. This is a lot of fun for parties like wedding receptions, or for a unique sports or dance portrait.

Now that we’ve explored a few scenarios where having your camera on a tripod makes a huge difference in your photos, let’s talk about how to set it up. 

Best Practices for Using a Tripod

sThe most important rule for using a tripod is that the front leg of the tripod should be perpendicular with the lens of your camera.

This helps add stability to the heaviest part of your camera, and also gives you room to stand between the other tripod legs.

Don’t raise the center post more than absolutely necessary (or at all if you can help it.)

Raising the center post raises the odds that your tripod tip over, because the weight is no longer balanced over the front leg of the tripod.

Wiggle your tripod back and forth a bit to make sure its stable before you begin to attach your camera. If it still seems a bit ‘tippy’ see if the tripod has a little hook hanging from the bottom of the center column.

Hang your camera bag off this hook to weigh it down a bit and help stabilize it.

When you’re happy with the positioning and stability of the tripod, remove the base plate from the tripod and attach it to your camera. Hold your camera carefully as you lock the release bar.

Make sure your camera is secure before you remove your hands from it.

Next, choose your camera angle and lock it into position on the tripod with the locking screws.

Now you’re ready for the last step, and that’s to adjust your camera settings before you start your session. 

Adjust Your Camera Settings for Tripod Use

It’s important to make some adjustments to your camera settings whenever you put it on a tripod.

First, make sure you have image stabilization/vibration reduction turned off. 

While this feature helps prevent camera shake when you hand-hold your camera, it can actually introduce camera shake when the camera is mounted on a tripod. Image stabilization creates small movements meant to counteract camera shake. But when your camera is motionless on a tripod, the little movements from image stabilization can actually make camera shake worse!

Next, turn off auto ISO and reduce your ISO to the lowest setting possible. Because you’ll be able to create longer exposures when your not hand-holding your camera, you won’t need to turn up your ISO as much to freeze motion.

This is optional, but you may also want to lock up your DSLR’s mirror while it’s sitting on a tripod. The movement of your camera’s mirror as it raises and lowers to expose the sensor can also cause slight camera shake. The advantage of mirrorless cameras is that this isn’t a concern at all.

I hope that you enjoyed this post on how to use tripods.

Stay tuned for Part II where I’ll go into more detail about the different types of tripods and my recommendations

How to Take Action Shots of Kids

How to Take Action Shots of Kids

How to Take Action Shots of Kids


Photo by student Eileen Capodice 

Want to take some incredible action shots of kids? Whether it’s sports photos or just capturing kids at their energetic best, capturing kids in motion can be a lot of fun for both you and your subjects – just like that incredible photo above from my student Eileen!

Instead of making kids pose stiffly in the studio, taking action shots of kids lets your subjects be themselves –  spontaneous and free. You’ll capture more genuine expressions than you do in the studio (often the children are so busy having fun they forget you’re even there.)

So whether you’re out to shoot sports, dance or just kids running around having fun, these action photography tips will help you get amazing results.

Think Like a Boy Scout When You’re Photographing Children

A Boy Scout’s motto is “Always Be Prepared” and a photographer who wants to take action or sports photography images should follow their lead!

Decide ahead of time which lens to use – a fast prime like a 50mm f1.8 is a great choice. 

Many kit lenses  have maximum apertures of only f4-5.6. That’s why it so it’s difficult to get the fast shutter speeds you need to freeze motion with these lenses. 

The only other option to compensate for a lens like this is to bump up your ISO in order to shoot at faster shutter speeds. Of course this can introduce noise to your photos.


Use a Zoom Lens for Sports Photography



If you’re shooting sports in a stadium, naturally you’ll be further away from your subject. In this case a zoom lens is a huge help to help you capture the action. 

If you can find one that opens up to an aperture of f2.8 or larger, you’ll get better results  freezing motion than you will with zooms with maximum apertures of f4-5.6.

Make sure your memory card is formatted and your camera battery fully-charged before you leave for your shoot. You’ll miss out on too many great shots if you have to stop to change batteries or memory cards.

Lastly, clean your lenses and use a blower to remove any dust from your sensor for best results. 


Take Your Session Outside Whenever You Can


Your young subjects will relax and be more spontaneous when you take your session outside the studio. What self-respecting kid wants to sit still indoors if they could be running and jumping outdoors instead?

Try to find an open, evenly-lit area for your session. Parks are lovely settings; however, heavily treed areas can cast uneven light that leads to blotchy faces. So be aware of this before you choose your location.

You’ll spend a lot of time trying to correct the results of uneven lighting in post-processing so why not try to avoid it in the first place?  


The Playground is a Great Location Choice for Your Session

Playgrounds are excellent locations to capture action shots of kids, as there is no shortage of equipment to jump on, run around and climb on.

Plus playground equipment really shows off kids in motion, and isn’t that the entire point?

Kids love to explore and challenge each other at the playground, so you’ll be sure to capture some amazing candid shots.

Timing is Everything

Many children are at their best in the morning after breakfast when they are well-rested and their tummies are full,  so plan accordingly. If your session overlaps their regular naptime, it can spell disaster. When children get overtired and hungry, sessions end in tears and tantrums.

Not a fun experience for the kids, their parents or for you! Be sure to ask the parents ahead of time when the best time to schedule the shoot would be.

Always ask parents to bring along a nutritious snack for the kiddies to keep their energy levels and spirits high. A change of clothes and some wipes are also a good idea, as active play can result in some tumbles in the grass and dirt.

While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing in my opinion, the children’s parents might not appreciate it if all the photos feature grubby kids!

Avoid shooting at midday whenever possible. The bright light makes children squint and casts harsh shadows across their little faces.

If you have no other option other than to shoot in the middle of the day, be sure to add a little fill light from a speed light or strobe to overcome the shadows.

Shoot From a ‘Kid’s Eye’ Perspective


Kids love to crawl and roll around on the ground. They also love to inspect bugs, flowers and grass, and splash through puddles, so crouch down and get them in action!

Portraying children through their perspective  of the world helps show their sense of wonder and curiosity in your photos.

So don’t stand there like a statue!

Get down on your knees, or even sit on the ground to get down to the kids’ level.

Getting down with the kids makes you seem less ‘big’ and intimidating for the kids too, so they’ll be more inclined to relax around you.

You can also let the child take a few shots to make them familiar with the camera, too! 

Try Shutter Priority Mode

If you’re 100% comfortable shooting in manual mode, by all means, go for it.

But if you want to focus more on capturing your active subjects than on changing camera settings, shutter priority is the way to go. (Sony, Canon, and Nikon all denote shutter priority mode with an ‘S’ on the dial.) 

In this semi-automatic mode, you take care of the shutter speed and the camera will takes care of your aperture and ISO settings automatically.

When I want to freeze motion in photos of kids running around having fun, I start with a shutter speed of 1/250 and check for motion blur. If I see motion blur at this speed I keep going up a stop until I successfully freeze motion.

Continuous Focus Mode

Along with putting my camera into shutter priority, I also use continuous focus mode whenever I take action shots of kids. (This is AF-C on a Nikon, and Al Servo for Canon shooters.)

This focus mode helps keep your subjects in sharp focus as they move in and out of your viewfinder. Continuous focus mode also uses quite a bit of extra battery power as the camera continually focuses and refocuses on your subject.

That’s why you need to come prepared with a fully charged battery and a backup in your camera bag!

I also set my camera to continuous burst mode where the camera keeps shooting as long as the shutter release is held down.

Kids move quick, and burst mode will help you capture those incredible shots.

Advanced Technique: Panning

If you want some shots that really stand out, try adding some panning to your session.

Panning is a technique where the photographer sets the camera to a slow shutter speed and moves the camera to track a fast moving object. This technique creates a subject that is relatively sharp, along with a blurred background that conveys motion.

Panning is a popular technique for fast-action sports like motor sports, cycling, skiing and skating.

Start off in shutter priority mode. Your shutter speed will need to be somewhere between 1/30 and 1/125 – the faster the subject, the faster the shutter speed you need for success with the technique.

How to Minimize Camera Shake When Panning

To minimize camera shake, and up-and-down motion, put your camera on a tripod or monopod.

This allows you to smoothly pan from left-to-right or right-to-left, depending on where your subject enters your frame. Whenever your camera is on a tripod, always turn off image stabilization (vibration reduction on a Nikon.) Leaving it on when your camera is on a tripod can introduce unintended camera shake.

As mentioned in the earlier section of this post, be sure to have your camera set to continuous focus and burst shooting modes.

Keep some distance between yourself and the subject, as it’s harder for your camera to focus when your subject is close and moving.

Move smoothly with your subject as they move through your frame. Press the shutter release only when the subject is parallel to your camera.


Would You Like to Learn More About Camera Modes ?

In this article I mentioned some camera modes like shutter priority, continuous focus and burst mode. 

If you’re a newer photographer, you might need a little help understanding what all these mean. 

I’d love to give you a FREE camera training session you can follow along with on your own camera! Join me on my next training!

I promise that by the end of it, you’ll finally feel confident about changing your camera settings.

Register by clicking the button on the image below.


How to Change Shutter Speed On a Canon, Nikon, or Sony

How to Change Shutter Speed On a Canon, Nikon, or Sony

How to Change Shutter Speed On a Canon, Nikon, or Sony

If you’re confused about how to change the shutter speed on your camera, you’re not alone.

Camera manuals are hard to understand because they’re filled with jargon. Most cameras aren’t intuitive for users either.

There are so many menus, buttons and dials to deal with!

But if you keep your camera set in AUTO mode because it seems too difficult to change camera settings, you’re not doing yourself a favor.

This is even more true if you’re into sports or wildlife photography, or enjoy taking nature photos featuring seascapes and waterfalls.

Why Shooting in AUTO Mode Sets You Up for Disappointment

When you try to capture an action shot in AUTO mode, often you’ll see nothing but a blur.

That’s because your camera’s shutter speed wasn’t set fast enough to freeze motion.

To freeze motion, you want your camera shutter to open and close quickly. This means you need to be shooting at speeds of 1/250 of a second and faster – even all the way up to 1/2000 of a second in some cases.

Here are some outstanding examples of freezing motion with fast shutter speeds from my students T. Michelle Mullaly and Michelle Murell. 

Photo by T. Michelle Mullaly

Photo by Michelle Murell

On the other hand, if you want to capture those soft, dreamy photos of seascapes and waterfalls or capture light trails in the night sky, AUTO mode doesn’t allow you to leave the shutter open long enough to capture motion.

To capture these kinds of shots you’ll need to slow your shutter speed down to 1/30 of a second or even slower.

A photo taken by my student Raahul Singh is a spectacular example of traffic light trails captured at night. 

Photo by Raahul Singh

Now it’s your turn! I’ll walk you through how to change your shutter speed in both manual and shutter priority mode. 

And to make the process even simpler, I’ll give instructions for three popular entry-level cameras. You can follow along with your own make of camera. 

How to Change Shutter Speed on Three Popular Cameras

I’m going to walk you through how to change the shutter speed on three popular consumer-level cameras:

  • Canon Rebel T6
  • Nikon D3400
  • Sony A6500

I recommend that new photographers start experimenting with the effects of changing their shutter speed by using Shutter Priority mode.

This is a semi-automatic mode that lets the photographer control the shutter speed, while the camera automatically adjusts the aperture and ISO for a perfect exposure.

But I also want to show you how to change your shutter speed when you’re shooting in manual mode. 

First up, let’s look at how to change the shutter speed on a Canon Rebel.

Changing Shutter Speed Manually on a Canon Rebel t6

To change your shutter speed in MANUAL mode, turn the dial from AUTO all the way over to ‘M.’

This ‘M’ indicates MANUAL MODE. You’ll see an icon with fractions that appears on the display screen – these fractions indicate your shutter speed.

You’ll notice a dial right in front of the shutter release button.

When you turn this dial,  you’ll start to see your shutter speed changing. Turn it one way, and your shutter speed increases. Turn it back the other way and it decreases.

Entering Shutter Priority Mode on Canon Rebel t6

Next, let’s change your camera into SHUTTER PRIORITY mode.

Unlike other camera manufacturers, Canon uses TV (time value) to indicate Shutter Priority mode.

This makes sense because shutter speed is measured in increments of a second. These increments indicate the length of time between the shutter opening and closing to create the exposure.

Turn the mode dial on your camera from ‘M’ to ‘Tv’ to switch into Shutter Priority mode.

To adjust your shutter speed in Tv mode, turn the same dial as we used to change the shutter speed in manual mode.  

Changing Shutter Speed on a Nikon D3400

To switch from AUTO to Manual mode on a Nikon, turn the mode dial to ‘M’ for MANUAL MODE.

Next press the shutter part way down to bring up the info screen on the back of the camera.

You’ll see the shutter speed indicated in the circle on the left side of the screen. Sometimes this screen automatically turns off so just press the button to re-engage the screen.

Turn the dial located on the back of the camera to change the shutter speed. Turning the dial to the right increases shutter speed and to the left decreases it.

Shooting in Shutter Priority Mode

To change to SHUTTER PRIORITY mode, turn the mode dial on the top of the camera to ‘S’ for shutter speed.

Adjust your shutter speed by turning the same dial that you did in manual mode.

Changing Shutter Speed on Sony A6500


The Sony is a bit different than the Nikon and Canon because it’s a mirrorless camera.  But it’s just as simple to change the shutter speed on this camera as it was on the other two.

Turn your camera’s mode dial (located on the back of the camera) to ‘M’ for manual mode.

The dial to change the shutter speed is also located on the back of the Sony.

When you change the shutter speed you’ll see the speed selected in orange. Just as with the other two cameras, turning the dial to the left decreases shutter speed and to the right increases it.

Shooting in Shutter Priority Mode

To put your Sony into Shutter Priority, turn the mode dial to ‘S.’ Just like with the other two cameras, Shutter Priority allows you to adjust the shutter speed and the camera takes care of aperture and ISO for you.

Get Out and Practice in Shutter Priority Mode

Now that you understand how shutter speed affects your images, and have the knowledge to change your shutter speed…the only thing left to do is to have fun and practice your new skills!

Or, if you’d like a little more help before you take your camera out of AUTO mode, why not join my FREE training?

I’ll have you out of AUTO mode for good in just one hour!

Click the button on the image below to register.


How to Import Lightroom Presets

How to Import Lightroom Presets

How to Import Lightroom Presets

“How do I import presets into Lightroom?” is a question I definitely get asked a lot.

What makes it even more confusing is that there are different versions of Lightroom. And these versions handle importing Presets in a slightly different way!

But overall, importing Presets is a simple process, no matter which version of Lightroom you use.  

In this post, I’ll walk you through how to import and install presets for Lightroom Classic CC, Lightroom CC and Lightroom Mobile.

But before I do, I’d like to do a quick rundown on what Lightroom Presets are–just in case anyone who reads this isn’t already familiar with them.

What is a Lightroom Preset?

To edit photos in Lightroom, you use a series of sliders to adjust exposure, contrast, highlights, shadows, whites, blacks, etc. If you have many photos to edit, this is obviously very time consuming. 

But imagine that instead of making adjustments to photos one-at-a-time, you could apply adjustments to entire batches of photos with a single click.

And that’s exactly what a Preset is–it’s an editing shortcut. 

If you understand how starting with a cake mix helps you bake a perfect cake without measuring, it’s a perfect analogy for using a Preset to edit your photos. 

Why Editing With a Preset is Like Baking with a Cake Mix

Think about baking a cake. First, you have to heat the oven. Then you need to prepare your cake pans. Next you have to measure all the ingredients carefully. Finally, you have to follow the mixing and combining instructions to the letter. 

Now think about a baking a cake with a cake mix. It’s huge a shortcut to turning out a delicious cake, even if you’ve never baked a cake before.

Think about it. Everything in the cake mix box is pre-measured. All you have to do is add water, and an egg. Voila! Mix as instructed and bake. 

Even if you’ve never baked before, you can still turn out a great cake. 

And if you wanted to bake another cake just like it, it wouldnt be a problem. You would just start with that same mix. 

You make that cake even more delicious when you add your own little tweaks with frosting and decorations.

Presets are Editing Recipes


Well, using a Preset is a lot starting with a  cake mix.

Only in this case, a Preset is a professional editing recipe applied to your photos with a single click. 

Only in this case, a Preset is a professional editing recipe that’s applied to your photos with just one-click.

Presets give you consistent results that cut your editing time down to a fraction. But don’t think using Presets to begin your editing process limits your creative freedom. 

Presets are only a starting point to your editing process, not the end. You’re free to make tweaks to any of the settings. You’re completely in control of the final look of your photos. 

One of the best things about Presets is that they help you try new looks you may not have thought of on your own.

Try Out Different Looks for Your Photos

If you don’t have a lot of experience, Presets push you out of your editing comfort zone. You can try out new looks for your photos without any risk, because edits in Lightroom are non-destructive. You can always start over again if you don’t like the results. 

That’s why Presets are a great way to kick-start your editing creativity. 

Better yet, Presets make your photos look like a pro edited them! Your photos look consistent, and that’s a big plus when you’re doing client work.

Let’s get started installing your Presets! 

Let’s Get Started Importing Presets into Lightroom

Before you install your presets, you need to know which version of Lightroom you’re working with. 

Lightroom Classic CC—This is the desktop version of Lightroom, and also the one I recommend you work with. Lightroom Classic has more robust features than the Lightroom CC does, and it also is the better choice to keep your photo catalog organized. 

Lightroom CC—This version of Lightroom uploads to the Cloud. It syncs your photos across desktop mobile devices, and the web. Lightroom CC is perfect for photographers who edit on the go.  

Lightroom Mobile—To get started, download the free Lightroom app, available for both iOS and Android. While the app is free, you’ll need an Adobe Photography plan subscription to sync your photo catalog to your mobile device. 

We’ll begin this lesson with how to install Presets on Lightroom Classic CC.

Preset Installation Instructions + Tutorial for Lightroom Classic CC

Step 1: Before you begin, install the most recent version of Lightroom CC.

To check if you have the most recent version installed, go to the Menu bar in Lightroom and click ‘Help.’ You’ll see ‘Update’ in the drop-down menu. Click on ‘Update.’ (If you need to update, a dialogue box will appear. )

Step 2: Download the presets that you want to install (note the folder where you downloaded them.)  

Step 3: Unzip the downloaded presets file before you start the preset import.

Step 4: Open the Develop module  

To access the Develop module, click on the menu on top of the screen (shown in the image below. )


Step 5: Navigate to Presets

You’ll see Presets on the left side of your screen. Click the ‘+’ sign to the right.

Step 6: Click on ‘Import Presets.’ 

This dialog box will open after you click on the ‘+’ sign.

Step 7: Locate Your Unzipped Presets Folder

Open the folder and select all Presets inside. (Click the first preset in the folder, hold down the shift key and click the last preset in the folder to select All.)

Once you’ve selected all of the Presets, click the ‘Import’ button at the bottom right of your screen. Your Presets will install automatically. 

Step 8: Your Presets Are Installed!

You’ll be able to see your newly installed Presets in the Preset module on the left-hand side of your screen.


Next up: Let’s install presets on Lightroom CC, the web-based version of Lightroom that syncs over all of your devices.

Preset Installation Instructions + Tutorial for Lightroom CC

Step 1: Before you begin, install the latest edition of Lightroom CC

Step 2: Download Presets

Download your Presets. Unzip this folder before you start the installation.

Step 3: Open Lightroom CC

Click on the ‘Edit’ icon on the top right of the screen. (See image below.)

Step 4: Scroll to the Bottom of the Edit Panel

This panel is where you make adjustments to your images, such as exposure, contrast, saturation, highlights, shadows, etc.

You’ll find the Preset Panel located on the bottom of this Edit panel in Lightroom CC (shown in the image to the left.)

Click ‘Presets’ to begin the process to upload your presets.

Step 5: After the Edit panel opens up, you’ll see ‘Presets’ on the left side.

Click on the three dots to the right of the word ‘Presets.’ (This action opens the Preset Panel.)

Scroll down and click on ‘Import Presets.’

Step 6: Select the Presets you wish to install from your unzipped folder

(Follow the same steps as in Lightroom Classic CC above).

Click on ‘Import.’

Step 7: Enjoy your newly installed Presets!

You’ll see your new Presets now located in your Presets folder.

These will also sync to Lightroom Mobile, which I’ll cover in the next section.

Installation Instructions + Tutorial for Lightroom Mobile

With the Lightroom CC mobile app, you can edit on the fly with your phone or tablet. 

But you can’t directly upload Presets to your mobile device.

You must upload your Presets to  Lightroom CC first, then they’ll sync over to your device. 

Step 1: Download the Appropriate Lightroom Mobile App for Your Device:

Link for Apple devices

Link for Android devices

Step 2: Open your Lightroom App

Step 3: Log into your Adobe Creative Cloud account 

Step 4: Select the photo you wish to edit.

Step 5: Open the Edit module by clicking the edit icon


Step 6: The Presets you saved earlier in Lightroom CC appear under the Vignetting panel inside the Edit module.

Develop Your Own Editing Style with Presets


What I love most about Presets is they help you develop your own editing style.

Study the changes the Presets make to your Lightroom adjustment sliders. It’s the fastest way to understand what effects the diffferent adjustment sliders make to your photos.

Most of all, Presets are fun and let you test drive different editing styles. You might find a new favorite you never expected!

Try some Presets out today and amaze yourself!

Or if you’d like a little more hands-on help with editing, be sure to check out my FREE online editing workshop. 

 Discover the 5-Step Lightroom Editing Recipe Every Photo Needs


If you’ve never edited with Lightroom before, you’re in for a real treat. Lightroom Presets make the editing process fun and easy.

Join me for my 5-Step Editing Recipe online workshop. You’ll see an incredible difference in your photos in just 30 minutes! 

Click on the image below to register.

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