A Simple Lightroom and On1 Photo RAW Workflow

On1 Photo RAW is a photo-editing powerhouse. It can be used on its own, or as I prefer – as a Lightroom plugin.

On1 Photo RAW is marketed as a start-to-finish photo editor. However, if you are a seasoned Lightroom user, there are a few things you might miss:

  1. One-click chromatic aberration removal
  2. Automatic lens corrections
  3. Perspective Correction (Lightroom’s Upright tool found in the Transform panel)

I use the first two tools above on every single photo I import into Lightroom, and the third on nearly every architecture photo. For me, On1 Photo RAW can’t take the place of Lightroom quite yet. However, it is worth noting that these features are expected in future releases of On1 Photo RAW.

My Lightroom and On1 Photo RAW Workflow

Simply put, my workflow usually looks something like this:

  1. Lightroom for RAW conversion and basic adjustments
  2. Plugin(s) for stylistic enhancements
  3. Lightroom for sharpening and output (i.e. web, print, etc.)

The tutorial below shows how I used Lightroom and On1 Photo RAW to turn this drab, underexposed snapshot into a captivating photograph.

Before and After Lightroom and On1 Photo RAW
Before and After Lightroom and On1 Photo RAW

Step 1 – Lightroom

Presets are awesome.

I have an import preset that I apply to every photo that comes into Lightroom. It is aptly named “Ang’s Import Preset”. It includes a few basic adjustments that I apply to every single photo as well as a couple of tone adjustments that make the photo look a bit more like the JPEG preview on the back of the camera. (I shoot in RAW, always.)

Ang’s Import Preset Includes:

Basic Panel

  • +15 Contrast
  • +10 Vibrance

Detail Panel

  • +50 Sharpening Amount
  • +50 Sharpening Masking

Lens Corrections Panel

  • Remove Chromatic Aberration – checked
  • Enable Profile Corrections – checked

RAW Processing/Basic Tone Adjustments

Since my import preset is applied on import, I start my processing with white balance and basic tone adjustments.

  • Set white balance to Daylight
  • Enable Auto Tone as a starting point
  • Automatically set white and black points (hold shift key while double clicking on the titles for the Whites and Blacks sliders)
  • Reduce Highlights to -100

Rotate/Crop/Perspective Correction

  • Under the Lens Correction Panel increase the Distortion Amount to +200
  • Using the crop tool, rotate the photo to straighten the lighthouse and then crop slightly from the bottom left corner to center it.

Already the photo looks a heck of a lot better.

Old Point Comfort Lighthouse before and after Lightroom Screenshot
Before and After Lightroom Adjustments

Step 2 – On1 Photo RAW

Next, I’ll jump over to On1 Photo RAW for stylistic effects.

Exporting from Lightroom to On1 Photo RAW

There are a couple of ways to access On1 from Lightroom. The most intuitive way (the way most plugins are accessed) is by right-clicking on the photo, selecting Edit In–> and then choosing the plugin. (You can also access the Edit In option from the Photo Menu).

However, with On1, I suggest going to the File Menu –> Plug-in Extras –> and then selecting the On1 module you’d like to work with. This will allow you access to the Layers Module should you need it during your workflow. I won’t need Layers for this image, but I’ve made it a habit of choosing this method so that option is available if I decide to use it while I’m editing.

For this image, I went to the File Menu–>Plug-in Extras–>On1 Effects 2017 and opened the photo as a Smart Photo. An On1 Smart Photo will preserve your edits non-destructively so you can go back and adjust them later.

Once you are in On1, click on the button on the right side of the screen that says “Add Filter” to bring up a list of available filters.

Dynamic Contrast – Surreal

I almost always start with the Dynamic Contrast filter. When applying any filter in On1, I often click through the various presets to see which best suits the photo. In this case, I like what the Surreal preset does to the sky, but it makes the lighthouse and foliage in the foreground a bit too crunchy.

On1 Photo RAW | Effects Module | Dynamic Contrast Filter | Surreal Preset
On1 Photo RAW | Effects Module | Dynamic Contrast Filter | Surreal Preset

With the help of On1’s masking brush and Perfect Brush I can selectively apply the effect to the sky without affecting other parts of the photo.

For more information on masking in On1, check out this tutorial on the On1 website.

On1 Photo RAW | Effects Module | Dynamic Contrast Filter | Surreal Preset Masked to Affect Only the Sky
Surreal Preset Masked to Affect Only the Sky

Dynamic Contrast – Soft

Next, I added another Dynamic Contrast filter and chose the Soft preset.

On1 Photo RAW | Effects Module | Dynamic Contrast Filter | Soft Preset
On1 Photo RAW | Effects Module | Dynamic Contrast Filter | Soft Preset

The Soft preset adds a nice amount of contrast and detail to the lighthouse but makes the sky and foreground foliage way too crunchy. To fix this I copied the mask from the previous filter, inverted it (which removed the sky), and then used the masking brush and Perfect Brush to remove the effect from the foreground foliage.

Soft Preset Masked to Affect Only the Lighthouse
Soft Preset Masked to Affect Only the Lighthouse

I like the effect so far, but if you look closely the transition between the sky and lighthouse has a slight halo and looks a bit harsh.

On1 Photo RAW Screenshot | After Dynamic Contrast
After Dynamic Contrast Filter – Soft Preset | Applied to the Lighthouse only

To soften the effect I’ll go back to the filter affecting the sky and lower the opacity to 65%.

On1 Photo RAW Screenshot | Surreal Preset Lowered to 65% Opacity
Surreal Preset Lowered to 65% Opacity

Color Enhancer – Warmer

The photo was looking pretty good, but the lighthouse needed a bit more warmth. I added the Color Enhancer filter and chose the Warmer preset. I wanted the effect to apply only to the lighthouse so I copied the mask from the Dynamic Contrast – Soft filter and pasted it to the Color Enhancer.

On1 Photo RAW Screenshot | Color Enhancer - Warmer Preset Masked to Affect Only the Lighthouse
Color Enhancer – Warmer Preset Masked to Affect Only the Lighthouse

Tone Enhancer – Dark Contrast

Next, I added the Tone Enhancer filter with the Dark Contrast preset to emphasize the patina of age. Once again I copied the mask from the previous filter to apply the effect to the lighthouse only.

On1 Photo RAW Screenshot | Tone Enhancer - Dar Contrast Preset Masked to Affect Only the Lighthouse
Tone Enhancer – Dark Contrast Preset Masked to Affect Only the Lighthouse

Tone Enhancer – Increase Exposure

I really loved how this photograph was shaping up, but with the various adjustments we’ve made thus far it was looking a bit dark. To correct this I applied another Tone Enhancer layer, this time affecting the entire image (no mask) and increased the exposure by .2 to brighten the photo a little bit.

On1 Photo RAW Screenshot | Tone Enhancer - Increase Exposure
Tone Enhancer – Increase Exposure

Vignette – Big Softy

My final layer was a vignette. I love the Big Softy preset. However, it was a bit dark for this photo so I decreased the opacity to 50%.

On1 Photo RAW Screenshot | Vignette Filter - Big Softy Preset at 50% Opacity
Vignette Filter – Big Softy Preset at 50% Opacity

Finito! At least with my stylistic edits in On1. I clicked Done and headed back into Lightroom.

Step 3 – Lightroom

Once my edited photo was back in Lightroom I applied a small amount of sharping (+25 Amount, +60 Masking) and called it a wrap. I’m very happy with the finished photograph. With the help of amazing tools like Lightroom and On1 Photo RAW I was able to turn a so-so snapshot into a beautiful, striking photograph.

Old Point Comfort Lighthouse after Lightroom and On1 Photo RAW
Old Point Comfort Lighthouse after Lightroom and On1 Photo RAW

I  hope you enjoyed the walk-through of my Lightroom and On1 Photo RAW workflow. If you have any questions about Lightroom or On1 Software, please let me know!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links which means that I may receive a commission if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase. I only share products that I believe will be valuable to my readers (most of which I personally use and love). All opinions are my own.

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