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LR4 auto tone continues to be a disaster?

Mar 7, 2012 5:08 AM

Tags: #exposure #lightroom_4 #lr4 #auto_tone
  Latest reply: BKKDon, Sep 20, 2013 5:55 AM
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 6, 2012 11:11 AM   in reply to DdeGannes

    DdeGannes wrote:

     

    My concept of Lightroom is that it is designed and optimized as a program for managing and processing, large volumes of, "RAW" files from Digital Cameras.

     

    With this concept in mind I would expect the "Auto Tone" feature is designed to specifically cater to dealing with these files. I would not venture to use it for other purposes.

     

    There are specilized scanning software programs that are better suited to dealing with the specialized needs associated with this process.

    Once a raw file has been demosaic'd, color profile applied, white balanced, etc. there is very little difference between the open LR raw image and a JPEG/TIFF camera or scan image. Concerning scan images I agree with you that specialized scanning software is a better choice for "initial capture," especially with film images. This does not mean you are done processing the scan images. That's where Lightroom becomes the ideal tool for final touch-up of exposure, tonal balance, color balance, organizing, adding metadata, and repurposing (Slide Show, Web, Print, Book) ad infinitum. Scanning can take minutes and if the results aren't as expected you have to rescan the image. I generally use the scanner software for my initial capture with a custom color calibration profile and little other processing. Everything else can done faster inside LR and PS.

     

    Using a ring-around preview with multiple graduated toning selections would make Auto Toning more useful for all image types.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 6, 2012 11:45 AM   in reply to BKKDon

    BKKDon wrote:

     

    Yes I found this advice about the blacks/whites is sound and it makes it easy from there.

     

    It's a hot tip if you ask me. the auto-toner nearly always sets better blacks & whites values than 0,0 - makes it not only easier to set contrast, but exposure too - on the first pass.

     

     

    BKKDon wrote:

     

    I have also found that after correcting shadows, highlights and exposure auto contrast is very close.

     

    Reminder: the value the auto-toner comes up with for contrast is not dependent on any other settings, thus you could set it before correcting shadows, highlights, and exposure (say along with blacks & whites) if you want.

     

     

    There's more than one way to tame the beast!

     

    Rob

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 6, 2012 1:01 PM   in reply to Rob Cole

    At the risk of beating Auto Tone to death here's an image that "visually" demonstrates how the tone controls work.

     

    http://www.northlight-images.co.uk/downloadable_2/test-ramp_2.zip

     

    Import the above image into LR and observe the Histogram in the Develop module. You will see 21 lines representing the 21 grey scale values from 0%-100% in this image. Adjust each of the Basic panel Tone controls individually to see how they affect the Histogram and Loupe image. Now adjust the four regions in the Tone Curve. Notice that the PV2012 Highlights and Shadows Basic Tone controls work quite differently than their companion Tone Curve controls.

     

    This image has a full 0-100% tone range and when opened in PS (sRGB profile) the values are exact. It should require no adjustment in LR, correct? Hit Auto Tone.

     

    Yeah, it's a test image and not a picture, but the even-balanced tonal look is what I want. As we have seen, this is also the case when using Auto Tone with many "normal" pictures.

     
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    Aug 7, 2012 4:11 PM   in reply to trshaner

    Very interesting - thanks for posting (I got no problems beating on it a bit ).

     

    trshaner wrote:

     

    This image has a full 0-100% tone range and when opened in PS (sRGB profile) the values are exact. It should require no adjustment in LR, correct? Hit Auto Tone.

    It was a surprise to me too how strong the adjustments were, e.g. highlights/shadows.

     

     

    trshaner wrote:

     

    Yeah, it's a test image and not a picture, but the even-balanced tonal look is what I want. As we have seen, this is also the case when using Auto Tone with many "normal" pictures.

     

    In PV2010, auto-tone does not do much, and unlike PV2012, other adjustments maintain a fairly even tonal distribution. This is one of those double-edged sword things in PV2012 - the characteristic (uneven) redistribution of tones is one of the things that makes it so awesome sometimes, but is not always wanted. For example, the highly stratified sky in getho's example in the "pv2012: boo!" thread - looks kinda cool, but is overly stratified for his taste, and no way to get around it other than by using locals in a fairly painstaking fashion.

     

     

     

    One thing I noticed is that it's smart enough to realize it won't be able to unclip the blacks, so it doesn't really try. whites are another story, and it recovers highlights/whites fully, thus probably underexposing if this were a real photo where full dynamic range was wanted.

     

    However, just setting exposure back to zero makes for what might be a nice photo if it were one - i.e. highlights are stratified and shadows are filled.

     

    (on the other hand, if it was a sunset photo where highlights were the primary subject, it might be perfect with exposure as computed by auto-toner).

     

    Interesting to note, that the upper-midtone/lower-highlight area is more brighter and more compressed. With lifted shadows and stratified highlights, it's an inevitability, and a characterstic of PV2012 I've noticed in reglar photos before too.

     

    PS - Also, for fun: imagine this were a real photo, then try pulling the blacks slider left to say -15.

     

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

    Regarding previous posts: I've also noticed the auto-toner occasionally setting blacks too far left for some photos, clipping blacks that are better unclipped. So, a rightward adjustment of blacks is sometimes called for too, although less often than leftward, in my experience so far.

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

     

    Other fun things to try with this image:

     

    * set everything to zero except whites -100 & blacks +100 - note how both blacks & whites remain clipped - this exercise makes that element of PV2012 design crystal clear  - how whites and blacks are decidedly NOT like the right and left sliders on a traditional "levels & curves" tool. (just beware, although tonal response of +blacks is *very* much like that of Lr3 fill light, it does NOT make use of the masking/recombining technology of the shadows and fill sliders, which is why it makes images look "softer" (it reduces contrast/separation in the midtones and highlights). Ditto for whites - highlights slider uses the masking/recombining technology, whites doesn't, which is why highlights slider is preferrable for recovering highlights if your aim is to preserve midtone (and intra-shadow) contrast).

     

    * compare +contrast to +highlights -shadows, and -contrast to -highlights +shadows: +contrast maintains better separation than +highlights -shadows, and -highlights +shadows maintains better separation than -contrast.

     

    * set clarity to 100, then switch to PV2010 and set clarity to 100 (while you are there, try it's auto-toner, and fill-light, and highlight-recovery, and contrast, and compare to PV2012).

     

    Rob

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 7, 2012 2:27 AM   in reply to DdeGannes

    DdeGannes wrote:

     

    My concept of Lightroom is that it is designed and optimized as a program for managing and processing, large volumes of, "RAW" files from Digital Cameras.

     

    With this concept in mind I would expect the "Auto Tone" feature is designed to specifically cater to dealing with these files. I would not venture to use it for other purposes.

     

    There are specilized scanning software programs that are better suited to dealing with the specialized needs associated with this process.

    Fair assumption.  Scanning software perform brilliantly on color restoration, but are a poor 2nd compared to what lightroom can do for exposure management.. Unfortunately the issues for scanned photos equally apply to raw photos from cameras.  With the practice of "Expose to the Right" for cameras results in similiar issues and we still have problems wilth photos that have a small bright light pointing towards the camera.  It does not affect the camera exposure but auto-tone over corrects and darkens the photo inappropriately.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 7, 2012 4:02 PM   in reply to Dirgle

    More auto-tone observations:

     

    * I've yet to see contrast outside the range -25 to +25, nor highlights outside the range 0 to -50 nor shadows outside the range 0 to +50 (highlights/shadows values always mirroring one another symmetrically, as previously noted).

    * I've seen -blacks & +whites all over the map, and exposure of course.

    * I don't recall ever seeing any large +blacks or -whites values - always very small values.

     

    All of this seems fairly reasonable to me - just wondering if my observations are consistent with other users.

     

    Anybody else?

     

    Rob

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 7, 2012 8:47 PM   in reply to Rob Cole

    Hi,

     

    Yes I agree with you I haven't seen any excessive values, I did run a test on a bracketed series -2EV, 0EV and +2EV and it actually seemed to do a fairly good job but the exposure values were out by about 0.40. For example the underexposed used +1.55, middle -0.4 and the overexposed -2.6 but the histograms were amazingly similar.

     

    When I adjusted the exposure to +2, 0 and -2 the other Auto Tone settings seemed to be OK.

     

    Almost as if the Auto Tone assumes you "Expose to the right" ... maybe it does?

     

    Don.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 7, 2012 9:27 PM   in reply to BKKDon

    Just saw a new record (since I've been paying attention) for highest +blacks value: +26.

     

    (but it was appropriate for the photo).

     

     

    BKKDon wrote:

     

    Almost as if the Auto Tone assumes you "Expose to the right" ... maybe it does?

     

    It had better not (and I doubt it makes that assumption).

     

     

    R

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 7, 2012 10:15 PM   in reply to Rob Cole

    Only joking about the "expose to the right" assumption or am I?

     

    All in all PV2010 gives a more pleasing initial result but noise was always an issue. PV2012 seems to address the Blacks, Whites and Contrast correctly but Exposure is way off.

     

    I prefer the 2012 process because it handles noise/chroma much better and if you get used to it it is easy

     

    Don

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 8, 2012 12:06 AM   in reply to BKKDon

    BKKDon wrote:

     

    All in all PV2010 gives a more pleasing initial result but noise was always an issue.

     

    Not sure what you mean .

     

     

    BKKDon wrote:

     

    PV2012 seems to address the Blacks, Whites and Contrast correctly but Exposure is way off.

     

    Noticed there was no mention of highlights & shadows. - my take on them is that the PV2012 auto-toner tends to want shadows to be filled and no highlights too bright... i.e. often does the good thing when it's what you want, but if it's a shot where you want the shadows to be darker and more closed out, you may have to trim the shadows some. Likewise for the highlights... But other than those cases, the auto-toner usually gives pretty similar results to what I would do myself most of the time, although I often pump contrast up a little more and compensate with -highlights +shadows. The auto-toner tends to drop contrast more, and is heavy on the +whites instead, and then goes easier on the highlights/shadows. I think the auto-toner's way tends to have a little less punch, but looks a little more natural.

     

     

    Cheers,

    Rob

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 8, 2012 12:31 AM   in reply to Rob Cole

    Yes I would agree with you on the highlights/shadows in PV2012 but essentially I would never use Auto Tone in PV2010 because it mostly tended to wash out the image.

     

    In PV2012 Auto Tone does a good job on blacks/whites and minimizes clipping, auto tone contrast is good but I let the image itself dictate the shadows/highlights (as you said).

     

    I think that if you think in terms of PV2012 the process is far better and the shadow recovery is much better (if you want it) and along with the new Tone Curve it is a far better process.

     

    But, the point here is, those that have been relying on Auto Tone previously (especially PV2010) haven't been able to reproduce it with PV2012 - maybe a plugin like Perfectly Clear would give them the results they want - I was never hooked on Auto Tone as most products (Perfectly Clear included) tended to make images a little washed out as PV2010 did.

     

    Actually I forgot to add that I am probably biased as I am extremely happy with LR4.1, even performance wise, and I also like the PV2012 process.

     

    Don.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 8, 2012 12:53 AM   in reply to BKKDon

    BKKDon wrote:

     

    ...I am probably biased...

     

    We're all biased Don, but I find your candor refreshing .

     

     

    BKKDon wrote:

     

    I am extremely happy with LR4.1, even performance wise, and I also like the PV2012 process.

     

    Me too . Even the auto-toner has won a place in my heart now...

     

     

    Cheers,

    Rob

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 28, 2012 5:45 PM   in reply to Dirgle

    Is auto-tone any better in Lr4.2RC1?

     

    (I've heard that it is, but I can't tell yet)

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 29, 2012 5:17 AM   in reply to Rob Cole

    I guess all I can say is that the "Exposure" Auto Tone is still not good but the great thing about Auto Tone now is that you can trust the Contrast/Highlights/Shadows/Whites/Blacks and then adjust the Exposure to your liking.

     

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Sep 1, 2012 4:05 PM   in reply to BKKDon

    Ditto.

     

    Exposure calculation seems no better/different to me in Lr4.2RC1.

     

    It's strange how so much of the time the other values for things are reasonable whilst exposure is outlandish... - oh well.

     

    Cheers,

    Rob

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Sep 1, 2012 4:12 PM   in reply to Rob Cole

    Must depend on what you're shooting. I've just shot a rugby match, and - although I'm by no means an habitual Auto Tone user (it has never worked for my bird photography, regardless of converter) - I used it in the series of images from today, and it has been excellent.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Sep 2, 2012 5:23 PM   in reply to MadManChan2000

    MadManChan2000 wrote:

     

    No, it doesn't apply to "any image."  We have lots of test images (gathered from users) where Auto Tone not only works well, but works much better than in earlier Lr versions.

     

    Eric - have you been able to find enough test images to work with where exposure is off?

     

    I agree there are lots of cases when auto-toned exposure is OK, but there are so many where exposure is way off that it's hard to imagine you not having enough to work with. On the other hand, it's also hard to imagine why exposure continues to be so "imperfectly computed" (for lack of a better way to say it).

     

    Rob

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Sep 2, 2012 1:43 PM   in reply to Keith_Reeder

    Keith_Reeder wrote:

     

    Must depend on what you're shooting. I've just shot a rugby match, and - although I'm by no means an habitual Auto Tone user (it has never worked for my bird photography, regardless of converter) - I used it in the series of images from today, and it has been excellent.

     

    Yeah, sometimes it works just fine, but I just used it on this photo, and: not so fine:

     

     

    Autotoned: Exposure = 1.52

    NIK3_27903.jpg

     

    Note: Nothing particularly unusual about this photo, from a photographer perspective - its a snap of a flower in typical outdoor light.

     

     

     

    After manual adjustment of exposure to -.1

    NIK3_27903.jpg

     

     

     

    As has been said before, this sort of "way off" exposure doesn't always happen, but it does happen a lot (too much, in my opinion).

     

     

    UPDATE: In this case, the flower is a crop - some surrounding area was darker and got cropped out. So, the overall exposure computed by auto-toner was not so bad. Still, I think the auto-toner should be able to auto-tone just the cropped region, since from a user perspective, that's the part of the image that is to be used. A scanned photo with the border  croppped out, should not have the border be considered for auto-toning. Likewise for a photo of a couple of people standing in the light next to a dark area that gets cropped out, or a couple of people standing in the shade with a bright area nearby that gets cropped out... It wouldn't surprise me if a lot of times when people get a shock over auto-toning exposure result they are looking at a crop and don't realize the implication. I know the implication, but it just happened to me anyway, because I didn't realize I was looking at a crop.

     

    If you agree about this, please add your .02 here:

     

    http://feedback.photoshop.com/photoshop_family/topics/auto_tone_analys is_should_apply_post_crop_scanned_photos_a_problem

     

    Rob

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Sep 14, 2012 1:04 AM   in reply to Rob Cole

    Have you tried with RC4.2? I never could stand the auto-mutilation with 4 and 4.1 but I could swear Adobe have done something about it on RC4.2 even if it isn't documented in the release notes...much clearer images. It over wrote 4.1 so I cant compare.

     
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    Sep 14, 2012 2:23 AM   in reply to finesse99

    finesse99 wrote:

     

    Have you tried with RC4.2?

    Yes I tried it. - as I said in post #94: seems same to me. - but I have no way to compare 1:1 either.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Sep 14, 2012 4:00 AM   in reply to Rob Cole

    Sorry I didn't read #94 and zoned in on the one with pics

    Had a hard time finding an image that over-exposed but eventually found one where I used flash with a murky background that LRs "auto" attemted to recover (I used flash to get rid of the back-scene in the first place but LR wasn't to know I suppose).

     

    I did find the esiest way to correct and still keep a decent tonal width was instead of flaffing around with the sliders/histo/clipping-warnings was to use a pull-curve in the Tone Curve segment. It was a quick enough adjustment to make me reconsider if I should check the box to apply auto toning on import from now on and make small corrections with the tone curve box.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Sep 14, 2012 11:09 AM   in reply to Rob Cole

    Hi Rob,

     

    Absolutely agree.  Raised a detail "request for improvement" and all.

     

    It is interesting that when I scan a photo on my Canon scanner, the auto tone option changes the tonal balance of the photo in direct response to the cropping of the photo.  Significant changes occur when I crop out the white borders.  Exactly what I expect.

     

    Lightroom has a practice that you generally work through the develop module top to bottom.  The crop tool is above auto-tone .

     

    The "poorly behaving" photos (scans or photos) still occur when there are some specular highlights (or light source), but has improved with v4.1.  The discussion that based the solution on "your desired emphasis" is the key. Preserve Highlights, improve shadow detail, or neutral setting can only be driven by the context of the photo.  i.e. Snow shots versus wine cellar that is candle lit.

     

    -s

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Sep 14, 2012 6:15 AM   in reply to Rob Cole

    Hi,

     

    Yes still have to agree with you Rob, exposure is no better at all although I have found that excessivly over/underexposed seem to get almost correct treatment. For example, if I take a series of -2EV 0EV and +2EV if I use autotone I usually get the following exposure compensation:

     

    -2EV __- +1.5

    0EV  __ -0.45

    +2EV __ -2.15

     

    So, I think that it is consistently wrong but apart from exposure seems OK

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Oct 2, 2012 11:12 PM   in reply to BKKDon

    Nice to see the Auto Tone has come a long way with the 4.2 release ... still exposure leaves a little to be desired but, overall, it is great ... thanks Adobe.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Nov 21, 2012 12:25 AM   in reply to Dirgle

    I'm having the same problem. Auto Tone often massively over exposes, or under exposes. It is completely unreliable. The 2010 process was much better. DSC_4758.jpgThe first image is as shot. 2nd image is 2012 process "auto tone". 3rd image is 2010 process "auto tone". This is a pretty mild sample.DSC_4758-2.jpgDSC_4758-3.jpg

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Nov 21, 2012 1:12 AM   in reply to Lensman325

    It underexposes with small but bright highlights.  The bright light through the trees, just above the girl's head impacts the auto-tone.  The approach is auto-tone and double click on Exposure to reset and potentially contrast as well. 

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 13, 2013 10:17 AM   in reply to Steven Bodnar

    Does LR5 auto tone do a better job?

     
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    Jul 13, 2013 10:52 AM   in reply to CoolNameGoesHere

    CoolNameGoesHere wrote:

     

    Does LR5 auto tone do a better job?

    I doubt it. From casual checking it seems about the same to me. I'm pretty sure if Adobe improved the auto-toning in Lr5 there'd have been some mention of it by now, but there's been no such mention...

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 13, 2013 1:49 PM   in reply to Rob Cole

    I'd be happy if I could set auto tone so it didn't apply a negative number to exposure during a batch process.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 13, 2013 2:42 PM   in reply to CoolNameGoesHere

    The accepted practice which proves quite good is:

    1) Select all files, or the set you are interested in

    2) Click once on Autotone button to process all

    3) Click once on the word "Exposure" to reset them back to zero

    4) Click once on the work "Contrast" to reset them back to zero

     

    This assumes you are just starting editing process as steps 3 & 4 will reset those items back to zero. 

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 13, 2013 3:45 PM   in reply to Steven Bodnar

    That is what I have been doing for each image that was set with a negative exposure when it shouldn't be.

     

    More often than not I'm happy with the Exposure and Contrast settings if Exposure is positive. But the auto negative explosure is usually off for my images which are mainly sports. Hence the desire to limit Auto Tone with a "Not less then Zero" Exposure setting.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 14, 2013 4:01 PM   in reply to Dirgle

    This plugin solves most problems with Lr's auto-toning, granted it is more cumbersome to use than native.

     

    OttoTone

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 16, 2013 1:58 PM   in reply to Lensman325

    OttoToned (the web jpeg posted above) thusly:

     

    1. cropped the middle portion of (a virtual copy of) the original for auto-tone consideration:

    DSC_4758.otto-tone-2.jpg

    Note: excludes the specular highlights above, and the dark corner of the room (i.e. includes just the part we want toning optimized for).

     

     

    2. Auto-toned using OttoTone's manual mode (since Lr's native auto-toning is good over limited crop regions like the one above, there was no need for auto-compensation logic):

    DSC_4758.otto-toned.jpg

    I also gave a short leftward tug to the blacks slider (because Lr's auto-toner is brain-dead when it comes to blacks when auto-toning rgb files) - which you may not like. Personally, I don't like it so much on the web, but it looks better in Lr environment.

     

    Notes:

    * Image is plenty contrasty and fairly bright.

    * specular highlights above her head have not been recovered (nor should they be).

     

    PS - (other than the blacks adjustment which I probably shouldn't have done) Lr's PV2012 auto-toner did the whole toning job - the difference being that it was restricted to consideration of the cropped region, instead of the whole photo. Compare to Lr's native (PV2012) auto-toned result in post above, which recovers all specular highlights outside at the expense of under-brightening everything else.

     

    Rob

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Sep 19, 2013 6:30 PM   in reply to Rob Cole

    I gotta tell ya, it's not bad. I will be giving it a real test soon though. I am double checking the code in my preset that I will be using.

     

    It's been a long time coming!

     

    Chris Joyce

     
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    Sep 20, 2013 3:23 AM   in reply to vidlife

    I agree Chris, it seems a lot better to me too.

     

    (I'll have to rethink OttoToner at this point...).

     

    Anybody else??

     
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    Sep 20, 2013 5:55 AM   in reply to Rob Cole

    Yep, Adobe has done a good job here ... sometimes the Exposure is over a little ...

     
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