Lightroom 3 lesson – lesser known tips

Black and white filter

Below is a photo taken at a club with flash and a long exposure, close to a second. When you choose Black and White in the top right near Basic develop settings, a filter is applied based on the strength of certain colours in the photo. In this situation, a straight colour conversion to -100 saturation seems to darken or hide the blue ambient light, while the auto B&W filter brightens the blue/purple channel.

Colour, saturation zero.

Colour, saturation -100 (or Black & White with filter zeroed).

Black & White with filter on auto.

Another way to change the brightness of certain areas is to leave saturation at -100 and then change the white balance. Skin tones become dark and unnatural at cold white balance settings. For photos of a band on stage, changing the white balance in black and white can even seem to change the direction of the lighting, such as having red lights from the left brightened and blue lights from the right darkened at a warm white balance, then the opposite at a cool white balance.


  • Press F twice for full screen view.
  • Control + Tab to hide or show side bars.
  • Press J to show clipping.
  • Right click on the background past the edges of a photo and change the colour from white through black. I leave it on black with pinstripes.
  • Control + Shift + Alt + E: exports the selected photo(s) with the same settings (size, folder, output sharpening etc.) as the previous export.
  • Confirm cropping by pressing Enter on the keyboard. instead of clicking Done.
  • Press X to rotate the cropping outline by 90 degrees.
  • Press O to cycle through overlay modes. The default is the a big grid. The rule of thirds is very useful and there is a variation on the rule of thirds which can centre and strengthen compositions. The Golden Spiral is also great and I find it often more suitable when cropping 4:3 rather than 3:2 ratios.
  • Press Shift O to rotate the overlay (there are many ways to display the Golden Spiral.

If you have tagged a photo, cropped it and edited it, then the picture and the bottom will look something like this, which each icon indicating the step was performed.

The bar at the bottom of the screen

If you are in Develop mode and click on the tag icon, you will be taken to Libary view and the tag section. Similarly, clicking the +/- button will take you back to Develop mode and the middle one goes to crop view.

A full list of keyboard shortcuts is viewable on the Lightroom 3 help website here.

Check out the lesson I wrote for automating lens corrections on import: here.


Finding mp3 Duplicates Efficiently

My method for deleting duplicate songs in iTunes, is to click Show Duplicates in my library, create Size and Bit Rate columns and sort by Size. Songs with the same song length will appear next to each other in order. Unless there is something that makes the one with inferior bit rate (such as 128kbps rather than 192kbps) worth keeping, I delete it.

However, if there are a lot of songs with the same song length say 2:41, then the identical song titles could be spaced apart within that grouping. Hence the second method I apply sometimes – same as above except sorted by song Name. Songs with the same name will appear side by side, then I look to bit rate to see which is better (but I listen as well since there are other factors in ripping quality). I also consider the song length as there may be an extra 5 seconds at the start or end of  a song, or radio edit with a 30 second difference that I may want to keep.

I like to have songs marked with (live) in the name for live performances, but if it’s not there there yet then you might delete the song by accident. Watch for “Live” in the album (or set a filter for this), or look for big differences in song lengths or years.

Note you can create a smart playlist of songs with “live” in the album title and exlcude this from the list that you apply Show Duplicates to. Similarly, for duplicate removal or just organising purposes, you can create a playlist of songs with “acoustic” in the Name, Album or Genre.

Instead of following the menu dialogues each time for Remove or Cancel, followed by delete or keep orignal, I rather set Name of a song to delete, or Artist to delete for a selection.

This is also helpful because if I apply Show Duplicates to a plain or smart playlist, I can’t delete the song off my disk from there. So I mark it as delete, then later in my library I find a whole lot matching that word and remove them from iTunes and the disk.

Playlisting and Shuffling

As someone who loves music and getting the most out of software, I decided to explain how I have set up smart filters in iTunes so that the iTunes DJ (aka Party Shuffle) randomly plays songs I probably haven’t heard but will also probably like.

Background info:

  • The music comes mostly from CDs ripped on my father’s computer and iTunes collection.
  • Stored on my Seagate terrabyte (1000GB) external hard drive, along with my photos, as my laptop is limited.
  • A mixture of bands  from those I know well to not at all.
  • Genres ranging from rock, punk and metal to ska, blues and classical.


I enjoy a lot of music but I am not always in the mood for 60s music (with old recording quality) or hard rock. So I have a GENERAL smart playlist which is my whole library exclusding music from certain normal playlists I have compiled such as BLUES and METAL. Regardless of the genre columns, if I find a song in GENERAL that belongs in BLUES, I drag it there and it also disappears from GENERAL. There is no overlap.

Then I created an Unrated ’70+ playlist. Conditions:

  • Playlist is GENERAL or  TRYOUT sort (not yet allocated to a genre playlist).
  • Rating is unrated
  • Year is greater than 1970.


My iTunes DJ is set up with Source as the Unrated ’70+ playlist.

I leave the DJ playing in the background while working on my laptop and if I notice a song I want to rate, I give it a 3 or 4 out of 5 usually. It will continue to play once rated, but because of the condition mentioned above it will disappear from Unrated ’70+ playlist and such will not play again in iTunes DJ.

So I get to listen to a lot of songs fitting in GENERAL and easy to listen to, and that I haven’t yet properly listened to and rated before. I figure that I want to spend more time listeing to songs I don’t know than just playing the songs rated 4 stars and above, which I get tired of if I listen to too often.