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How to edit a photo in Lr4b1

Feb 28, 2012 6:44 PM

Tags: #pv2012




The purpose of this thread is for people to discuss tips, tricks, and difficulties editing PV2012 photos.

Please be courageous enough to post about what you love, what works, what doesn't, as well as what you don't like about PV2012.

Please keep personal comments to yourself. If you must uncork, consider discussing personal issues via PM, or create a new thread for venting them...

Reminder: Only you control which threads and which posts you read.



How to edit a photo, basically:



* exposure - squint and take a whack (don't worry too much about over-bright highlights or over dim shadows at this point. Some people have found that setting initial exposure by looking at the navigator or a thumbnail instead of the big picture helps to keep from getting misguided by extra-bright/dim areas).

* contrast - assess desired level of (midtone) contrasty-ness, and take a whack (don't worry too much about over-bright highlights or over dim shadows at this point).

* adjust highlights so they're not too bright (or dim)

* adjust shadows so they're not too dim (or bright).




* +whites to stretch exposure out a bit (stopping shy of the clip point, right at the clip point, or beyond the clip point, as desired).

* -whites to compress highest tones a bit (or a lot).

* -blacks to clip point to take full advantage of dynamic range, or beyond clip point to create some true blacks, or stop shy of clip point to keep darks from being too black.

* +blacks to eliminate true blacks, fill darkest tones, or compress shadows.


Assess midtones with the TAT tool (of the tone curve).


if midtones are too bright, drop exposure and take another pass at the rest...

if midtones are too dim, increase exposure and take another pass at the rest...

if midtones are OK, but it looks over contrasty, drop contrast and take another pass at the rest.

if midtones are OK, but it looks under contrasty, increase contrast and take another pass at the rest.


If tone is still not exactly what you want, use the tone curve.

If some areas are wonky use the locals...


Advanced editing topics:



(Note: If you want the opposite, then do the opposite)


How to increase intra-highlight contrast:


+whites -exposure -highlights +shadows


How to increase midtone contrast:


+contrast -highlights +shadows

(-vibrance and/or -saturation if this makes it too "colorful")


How to increase intra-shadow contrast:


-blacks +shadows

(if this makes midtones too bright, then -exposure...)


Note: @28/Feb/2012, my biggest use of the tone curve is for primping darkest blacks/shadows.


If all's well except mids are a tad bright:


-exposure +highlights +shadows


If all's well except mids are a tad dim:


+exposure -highlights -shadows


If -highlights is not recoverying enough highlights, or is creating too much highlight stratification, try -whites.

If deepest blacks are still too black, try +blacks.


Note: @28/Feb/2012, one of my biggest uses of locals is for primping highlights.


Bonus topics:


If image looks OK, but you want to punchify it, then follow the instructions for increasing highlight contrast, and/or midtone contrast, and/or intra-shadow contrast, and maybe toss in some clarity and adjust vib/sat.

And to unpunchify? - do the opposite...


Often (meaning not always by a long shot), optimal toning includes -highlights value of same magnitude as +shadows value. For normal photos, when fairly normal results are desired, it's often a good starting point.


If you want radically different toning than what you can do with the basics, then after getting image as close as possible using the basics, go crazy with the point curve...


Don't forget, if you are having a very hard time getting the look right, maybe you need a different camera calibration profile.

Overly contrasty and too intensely colored? - try neutral.

Underly contrasty and not well saturated? - try vivid or landscape.


Also the RGB channel curves can be a godsend.





* Overbright highlights? If nothing will bring them down, and they're like bright dead-zones, wait for beta #2 - this should be fixed.

* Shadow halos? Clarity halos are mostly gone, but now we have a new kind of haloing - dunno if this will be fixed or not, but Eric is aware of it.

* If new clarity looks ugly, wait for beta #2 - hopefully this will be improved.

* If highlights are still flat, or you can't get all whites white, or you can't get an "unadulterated" highlight look, try finessing whites/exposure/highlights/tone-point-curve/locals. If still not acceptable, switch to PV2010 - this will not be fixed (problem is auto-highlight recovery).

* If blacks are not blacking the way you want, this can usually be remedied by finessing the tone-point-curve (and maybe some locals) - difficulty is due to auto-shadow recovery.

* If you are converting an existing photo, beware of locals. Locals from previous process versions do not always translate well to PV2012, especially if they include a brightness adjustment.





You can not use the tone/point curve for spot tone adjustment - tone curve should be smooth or it will (usually) destroy at least one tonal range. Use locals for spot toning.

If you seem to need a complex shaped tone curve, you probably haven't got the basics right yet.





by beta#2 I mean next release.

  • Currently Being Moderated
    Feb 28, 2012 6:50 PM   in reply to Rob Cole

    Great post, Rob. I haven't messed with LR4 b1 all that much, but will be printing these tips up to keep as a little cheat sheet as I work through PV2012.




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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Mar 2, 2012 1:11 AM   in reply to Rob Cole

    Thanks for typing out all this information Rob, much appreciated.

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    Mar 2, 2012 9:35 AM   in reply to Rob Cole

    thank you Rob, that smooths out a few blurs in my processor brain.

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    Mar 2, 2012 9:53 AM   in reply to Rob Cole

    Hi Rob,

    That is fantastic, that you blog about your hard-earned LR4b develop experiences in such a structured way !


    Which leads me to suggest even another format for this: to publish an eBook, with some sample images included to illustrate each use case, maybe even with a download offered for the raws, so your readers can get some hands-on experience as well.


    An eBook could be updated if need be with every new version of LR4(beta), if justified by new insights.


    Like the guys at Craft and Vision ( - I'd gladly buy such a volume form you !



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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Mar 3, 2012 3:19 PM   in reply to Rob Cole

    I consider myself a beginner, but found that the "Highlight" slider is what I use most (in both directions). As long as there are known issues and things to be changing I am not sure if general hints are fully useful yet. For example -White in combination with -Exposure as of now behaves unwanted, so the final outcome after a fix (new version) will likely be quite different.

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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Mar 4, 2012 6:21 AM   in reply to Rob Cole

    At the risk of causing thread bloat, I would like to thank you, Rob, for this excellent tutorial. With mid-tones as my base objective, I have found that the adjustments to shadows and highlights are more powerful and much more sensitive than they were in 2010. Without being all that technically aware as I work, I have been very happy with the results. Your posts in this thread have made it clear why that might be.

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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Mar 4, 2012 4:34 PM   in reply to Rob Cole

    The clarity function was a delightful surprise. I thought it lacking

    somewhat in Lr3.

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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Mar 4, 2012 5:53 PM   in reply to Rob Cole

    A nudge to the clarity works best when making .jpgs for the net. They

    frequently need a little boost that larger, printed photos don't require. I

    have always used a bit of unsharp mask, even quite a lot of unsharp mask,

    in my Photoshop workflow. It, clarifys, things.

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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Mar 5, 2012 3:27 AM   in reply to Rob Cole

    Rob Cole wrote:


    I suspect the two biggest mistakes newcomers to PV2012 will make:

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------- ------------------------

    * attempting to use +highlights (and/or +shadows) instead of +exposure, (or the opposite)


    Hey Rob,


    I am one of those beginners. In some situations one might get away with a quick and dirty +highlights. Here is an out-of-camera JPG where I wanted to lift mid/skin tones a bit and increase contrast slightly.




    After +Highlights:


    Using +Exposure instead:


    As you can see the +Exposure would have needed further working on in order to get closer to the results of the +Highlights. Yes, there are some very small clipping areas in the +Highlight image, but the biggest/most pronounced was cut out of the final image anyway (made a 4:3 into a 16:10). It's surely not the best possible outcome, but it's fitting for the non-artistic flash in the face snapshot I was trying to enhance a bit.


    * +highlights -shadows when what you should do is +contrast.


    I understand what you mean, but sometimes it may be the tool of choice and I wouldn't dismiss it as generally "wrong". The results of +Highlights -Shadows can be quite different looking to +Contrast. In my image +Contrast makes the skin look like having taken a sunbath (or the old Kinder chocolate kids) while +Highlights -Shadows keeps the rather pale winter skin intact and generally looks less "processed".

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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Mar 6, 2012 6:55 AM   in reply to Rob Cole

    Thank you for all this Rob! I have found it very helpful indeed.


    I have a fresh clean copy of Lr4 sitting on my desk, mysteries mostly unraveled, thanks to you, as far as the Dev module goes.

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