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Guide for Editing Bird Photographs in Adobe Lightroom

In this guide I will give you a step by step process on how to easily edit your bird photos in Lightroom to get vastly improved results from the original RAW images.


I would also like to appeal to people to only shoot in RAW mode if you are willing to edit your photos. I hear so many people proudly saying they only shoot in RAW mode, but when I ask them if they edit their photos they say things like “I know how to use my camera settings so well that the photos don’t need any editing”, or” I only crop the image” My answer to that is you are just wasting space on your SD card. If you don’t do any editing then you are better off just shooting in JPEG mode as you will waste a lot less space and you will get the camera manufacturers algorithm applied to your images to make them more desirable.


Another point to always be conscious of when editing bird photos, is to concentrate on how the editing effects the bird in the photo, and not the entire photo itself. The bird is the subject, and the exposure, sharpness and colours etc. need to be adjusted with bird at the forefront.


I will be taking you through the process by way of two examples. Please note that I am using Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic 9.3 Release.


Example 1: Bar-tailed Godwit

Bar-tailed Godwit - Origianl RAW photo imported into Adobe Lightroom

One can see in the image above that the photo is overexposed, however when looking at the histogram there is no clipping occurring so all the details should be able to recovered when it comes to editing.


Step 1: Apply lens and chromatic aberration corrections.

This is a simple clicking of two checkboxes. It doesn’t make a big difference, but in theory a camera’s lens does not take a photo exactly how the human eye sees it, so there is a preset applied specific to your lens to make the slight adjustment when this is clicked.


Lightroom - Lens and Chromatic Abberation Correction

Step 2: Cropping

This is the time to crop the image to the desired size and aspect you want. I try to stick to well-known aspect ratios e.g. 3:2, 16:9, 1:1, or 4:5. For this image I am going to select the wide angle 3:2 ratio. Also when cropping, one of the biggest mistakes I see people make, is that they crop too much, and the bird looks like it doesn’t have any space to breathe. Also a good rule to use is “The Rule of Thirds” which you can google, but basically don’t just slap your subject in the middle of the picture as it looks amateurish.

Lightroom - cropping the image with a 3:2 aspect ratio
Lightroom - cropped image