How to Edit Golden Hour Photos in Lightroom Classic: A Step-by-Step Guide

Golden hour is one of the most popular times to take photos, and there are plenty of good reasons why. The light can make you look more youthful, and the colors are also superb for landscape shots. Once you’ve captured your pictures, you can edit them to make them look even better.

Adobe Lightroom is one of the best tools for editing golden hour images, and you have plenty of tools at your disposal. You’re in the right place if you want to make the most of them for your pictures.

This article will show you how to edit golden hour photos in Lightroom Classic.

1. Choose a Camera Profile

After exporting your golden hour photos, you need to have a rough idea of what you want the end result to look like. Before you start navigating your way through the various sliders in Lightroom, choose a camera profile.

You will see a default set of Adobe camera profiles, regardless of the manufacturer you used for taking the photo. However, you will also notice different filters specific to your camera. FujiFilm has a broad range of camera profiles, and we’re going to use one of them for this tutorial.

Ideally, you’ll want to pick a camera profile with softer colors. In this instance, we’ll choose ASTIA/Soft. To add a camera profile, go to Profile Browser > Camera Matching; for the Adobe ones, expand the Adobe Raw section instead.

Note that these profiles are available for RAW files; JPEGs have the choice of color and black-and-white.

2. Make Basic Adjustments

Before we move on to the colors, now is a good time to begin making basic adjustments to your image. You should alter the exposure as you feel necessary, and it’s also a good idea to tweak the contrast and highlights.

You can also now use the opportunity to tweak the clarity, dehaze, and texture. And use the tone curve tool to change the whites and blacks in your image.

When making these adjustments, there isn’t a proper guideline to follow. The changes you make will depend largely on what you took, and you’ll also want to think about your photography style. Aim for a neutral-looking picture before moving on.

3. Adjust the Vibrance and Saturation

After making the simple adjustments to your photo, you’re ready to start changing how your colors look. Before you move on to the more advanced steps, start with vibrance and saturation.

Like the previous steps, the amount of vibrance and saturation you add—or take away—doesn’t have a universal answer. Consider whether you like the colors in your picture as they are, and decide how much you want to push the boundaries to enhance the golden hour vibe.

When changing the vibrance and saturation, make sure that you switch off Night Shift mode if you’re using a Mac. Otherwise, the photo on your screen will look more yellow than it actually is.

4. Focus on Specific Color Adjustments

Vibrance and saturation are just the start for editing the colors in golden hour photos on Lightroom. Once you’ve done those, you’ll want to focus more on specific colors.

Because we’re editing golden hour pictures, we’re going to focus mainly on the yellows, oranges, and reds. If you scroll down to HSL/Color, you can adjust the hue, saturation, and luminance for individual colors.

You don’t need to worry about whether you select HSL or Color; the only difference is how the sliders are presented. If you want to edit multiple colors, you will probably find HSL much easier to navigate—but we’ve chosen Color as that’s our preference.

5. Use the Color Grading Wheel

When you’ve finished tweaking specific colors, we can move on to one of Lightroom’s more enjoyable color editing aspects. If you’re familiar with Adobe Premiere Pro, you probably know about the color grading wheel; since late 2020, Adobe Lightroom has had a similar feature.

Lightroom has three color grading wheels for different parts of the picture: Midtones, Shadows, and Highlights. You can also adjust the luminance for each of these areas. And alongside the individual wheels, you’ve also got a Global one that changes colors for the entire picture.

When you move the color wheel dot further out, you will increase the hue and saturation for the color you put it in the direction of. To access these wheels, go to the Color Grading section.

6. Use the Red, Blue, and Green Primaries

One of the most overlooked tools in Lightroom is the ability to tweak the red, blue, and green primaries. Toward the bottom of the right-hand toolbar, you can adjust the hue and saturation for each of these. You will find these incredibly useful if you’re looking to perfect the golden hour style.

When editing golden hour photos, it’s worth thinking about the blue and green primaries primarily. You can move the sliders around until you find the sweet spot.

You’ll find these sliders under the Calibration section; here, you can adjust the tint in your image too.

Other Adjustments to Consider

Now that we’ve covered the color-specific edits for golden hour photos in Lightroom, let’s look at a couple of other adjustments you should consider. All of these are optional, but we highly recommend using them.

Removing Chromatic Aberration

Chromatic aberration is hard to control, but you can easily fix the issue in Lightroom. All you need to do is go to the Lens Corrections tab; here, you can tick the Remove Chromatic Aberration box.

Correcting Your Camera Lens Profile

Another simple adjustment you can make in Lightroom, but one that makes a big difference, is correcting your camera lens profile. Like removing chromatic aberration, you will find this box under the Lens Correction tab.

Tick the Enable Profile Corrections box before looking for your camera lens manufacturer. You can also find a separate tab for specific lenses. You can choose whatever you want, even if you don’t have that particular lens.

Cropping the Picture

When editing your photo in Lightroom, it is a good idea to think about where you’ll use it. For example, if you’re posting pictures on Instagram, you’ll want to ensure that you’ve cropped it to the correct dimensions for Instagram.

You can crop your picture by going to the Crop Overlay icon at the top of the right-hand toolbar and clicking on it. Alternatively, hit the R key on your keyboard.

Perfect Your Golden Hour Shots in Lightroom

Golden hour photos are fun to take, and editing them is just as enjoyable. You’ve got plenty of options to make the colors pop in Lightroom, and you can adjust everything to fit your preferred style.

This article should have given you a decent guideline to follow if you’re a beginner. Lightroom has plenty of other tools we didn’t mention, but these are a good starting point.

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