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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
    May 31, 2012 1:18 AM   in reply to Rob Cole

    Rob Cole wrote:

     

    I wonder if there is any advantage in that over just clicking auto-tone and then adjusting exposure(?)

     

    (this is all academic to me, since I don't use auto-tone - just a curiousity...)

     

    R

     

    From what I have read, exposure should be adjusted before any of the other sliders, and they are supposed to be adaptive, so that their settings will depend on what exposure is set at. But from the results of a couple of quick expts, whatever exposure setting I make, the other sliders autoset to the same values!

     

    In which case, using autotone and then adjusting the exposure is OK!

     

    Bob Frost

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    May 31, 2012 1:31 AM   in reply to bob frost

    I think it's confirmed then, according to BobDiN too.

     

    To summarize:

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

    When manual toning, set exposure first (since it effects other sliders behaviors / adjustment ranges), but when auto-toning - order doesn't matter (whether auto-toning individual sliders one-at-a-time, or doing the whole lot in one auto-tone click).

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 24, 2012 8:28 AM   in reply to Dirgle

    I've been watching this to see what develops.

     

    My experience, mostly events, is the auto tone is now a do not touch button. It was a huge time saver.

     

    I loved the high 'hit rate' of auto before. Now, every stinking image needs to be put through a deep dive.

     

    Frustrating... not advancement in my opinion.

     

    Chris

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 29, 2012 2:45 PM   in reply to vidlife

    Chris,

     

    I never used Auto-tone in the earliest days of Lr4, but recently I've been using it a lot in Lr4.1.

     

    Although the initial result may make you want to hurl, after a (potentially large) adjustment of exposure, and a proper setting for blacks, the result is often quite good. Maybe a tweak to contrast for taste, and good to go. Granted, some photos will also need fine tuning of highlights/shadows.

     

    Auto-tone'd value for whites seems pretty darn good most of the time, although I would not consider it off-limits for a tweak, if ultimate optimization is your aim, and you know what to do with it, e.g. sometimes a little attenuation suits my taste (gentle nudge leftward) when it has a relatively large positive value.

     

    Rob

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 29, 2012 7:24 PM   in reply to Rob Cole

    Thanks for the reply.

     

    You have confirmed my finding...... They took the AUTO out of Auto Tone.

     

    You are basically HAND toning each photo. I am looking for time savings. ($$$)

     

    LR3 is the Gold Standard for this Feature. Maybe it will be given a complete rework but they will have to change the development team since this group had their chance and well..... it needs a team that was familiar with LR3.

    Chris

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 29, 2012 8:02 PM   in reply to vidlife

    vidlife wrote:

     

    it needs a team that was familiar with LR3.

     

    It's the same team for both versions.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 30, 2012 2:02 AM   in reply to vidlife

    vidlife wrote:

     

    LR3 is the Gold Standard for this Feature.

    In my experience, Lr3 auto-toning often required some follow-up adjustments too. I would say the biggest difference is just being proficient at making those follow-up adjustments, which only comes with practice using PV2012.

     

    I'm not saying there's no room for improvement, just that even in it's current state, it can be a viable shortcut, once you know what to do after clicking "Auto".

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 30, 2012 10:04 AM   in reply to vidlife

    vidlife wrote:

     

    Thanks for the reply.

     

    You have confirmed my finding...... They took the AUTO out of Auto Tone.

     

    You are basically HAND toning each photo. I am looking for time savings. ($$$)

     

    LR3 is the Gold Standard for this Feature.

    Chris

     

    If the vast majority of your images respond better to LR3's Auto Tone why not just use it!

     

    Set or import the images to PV2010 with Auto Tone, and then convert them to PV2012 (click '!' 'Update All filmstrip pictures) in the Develop module. The PV2012 conversion does a pretty good job of retaining the tonality of the PV2010 settings. Then you can benefit from all of the other PV2012 features using your "preferred" LR3 Auto Tone adjustment point.

     

    If you intend on doing complete top-down settings adjustment in the Basic panel this won't save you much time. IMHO, manual PV2012 adjustments take no longer than PV2010 and the results are superior. As Rob Cole mentioned, speed in PV2012 comes with practice. You will start to see a pattern to the settings adjustments dependent on image type (normal exposure and contrast, under-exposed, heavily clipped highlights).

     

    General PV2012 Basic Panel Adjustment Tips:

     

    1) Set Exposure to adjust the midtones. This means bright highlight areas will be noticeably clipped when all other settings are at a '0 starting point. I typically use +.5 to +1.0 EV for images with normal exposure. When adjusted properly the overall image should appear slightly over-exposed.

     

    2) Set -Highlights to bring out detail in the overexposed highlight areas, but no more.

     

    3) Set +Shadows to the same value as Highlights (i.e. -40 and +40).

     

    4) Adjust Whites holding the ALT/Option key to just show white clipping.

     

    5) Adjust Blacks holding the ALT/Option key to just show black clipping.

     

    With practice these five steps will only take a few seconds and the image should be useable. Making a second pass in the same order will help to "refine" the midtone balance and bring out more highlight and shadow detail. With experience the second pass should also take no more than a few seconds. If you have a "series of images" with the same subject and camera/lens settings, then go ahead and 'Sync' these Develop settings. That's the best way to speed up your image processing.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 30, 2012 8:31 PM   in reply to trshaner

    trshaner wrote:

     

    ...manual PV2012 adjustments take no longer than PV2010 and the results are superior. As Rob Cole mentioned, speed in PV2012 comes with practice. You will start to see a pattern to the settings adjustments dependent on image type (normal exposure and contrast, under-exposed, heavily clipped highlights).

    Agreed. While learning, it can take *forever* to adjust even a single photo. Iterating, painting oneself into a corner, starting over... But after a while, it's actually quicker to edit with PV2012 than with PV2010 (whether using auto-tone or not). - less tone curve needed, and highlight/shadow locals can be applied without precision yet with great results.

     

     

    trshaner wrote:

     

    If the vast majority of your images respond better to LR3's Auto Tone why not just use it!

     

    Set or import the images to PV2010 with Auto Tone, and then convert them to PV2012 (click '!' 'Update All filmstrip pictures) in the Develop module. The PV2012 conversion does a pretty good job of retaining the tonality of the PV2010 settings.

    Clever idea - wish I had thought of it . Just beware of PV2012 blacks, when PV2010 has blacks > 5 (raws). You will almost certainly need to adjust leftward.

     

     

     

    trshaner wrote:

     

    General PV2012 Basic Panel Adjustment Tips:

     

    ...

    3) Set +Shadows to the same value as Highlights (i.e. -40 and +40).

     

    ...

    Number 3 is a great technique for finding proper exposure and a generally nice complement of settings. It doesn't have to stay that way once the image adjustment is down to the short strokes, but until then, why not make it easy on yourself?

     

    I noticed contrast was omitted from this procedure. I'm assuming this was on purpose. There is something to be said for leaving contrast at a midland value (0) if it's not clear whether to increase or decrease it. Some photos will begin to cry out for a contrast increase at some point (e.g. they seem to look flat, or lack pizazz, richness, or a sense of fullness..., no matter what you do with the others). Or you may find you just can't get enough highlight detail without lowering contrast, or -contrast helps take some of the load off of the shadows slider, or keeps photo from looking too heavy and/or oversaturated... But agree: when in doubt, just leave it at zero...

     

     

    Thanks for the great tips, trshaner.

     

    Rob

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 30, 2012 8:40 PM   in reply to trshaner

    To clarify:

     

    -40 refers to the highlights and +40 refers to the shadows.

     

    If you want a bright, punchy, clear, detailed picture, it's generally best to crank exposure and/or contrast up enough that it blows out the highlights a little, or even a lot, then bring them down using -highlights. Likewise, setting blacks low enough and contrast high enough that +shadows won't over brighten the bottom end.

     

    If you don't want that kind of image (or if you are processing jpegs that already have some intelligent contrast and compensation applied) however the situation could be the exact opposite.

     

    So, it's not a hard and fast rule. But having highlights zero or negative, and shadows 0 or positive, with same value as highlights represents a kind-of "balanced" situation, i.e. makes for smooth toning from one end to the other, e.g. is most like the original photo... Note: range of tones effected by highlights vs. shadows can vary significantly from photo to photo, so keeping them equal assures you don't get bit by wonky skewed highlight/shadows settings before you get the coveted exposure setting right.

     

    From a design/under-the-hood point of view, -highlights uses an internal mask that facilitates dropping the highlights without decreasing midtone contrast (impossible to do using the tone curve). Likewise, +shadows uses an internal mask that raises the shadows without compressing the midtones (like Lr3 fill light). Note: +exposure -highlights +shadows is similar to what Nikon's (Active) D-Lighting does. That's why the image is punchier when you have -highlights & +shadows - all the midtone contrast is preserved. Toss +whites into the mix and crank highlights down even further, and -blacks into the mix, and crank up shadow further, adds intra-highlight & intra-shadow contrast too (respectively), without anything getting too bright/dim (or suffering any midtone contrast loss). Note: some people really hate this much punch and detail, and call it "hdr-ish" and what have you. So go easy, if you want a subtler, more natural, old-school photography look...

     

    I will often end up with global value for -highlights same as +shadows, then if any fine tuning need be done, use locals instead - i.e. gradients or brushes with varying amounts of highlights/shadows in them. But one can also fine tune global values for highlights & shadows, skewing them as desired. The caution is against doing this too soon if you aren't very experienced with PV2012 yet, since it can be a recipe for getting all twisted around your axle.

     

    Cheers,

    Rob

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 30, 2012 8:46 PM   in reply to Rob Cole

    Thanks for the clarification!

    Tom

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 31, 2012 4:53 AM   in reply to stormy.boy

    Now ..... if only...... the auto would be .... well, auto.

     

    but, see the above for all the steps and theories and experience needed to use ..... can I say it one more time?..... AUTO

     

    Maybe change the button name to .... CTSWH    (click to see what happens) because.... well you know by now (see previous posts).... it is definitely NOT auto.

     

    Is the Lightroom team working to fix this? anybody know?

    Chris

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 31, 2012 5:45 AM   in reply to vidlife

    Chris,

     

    vidlife wrote:

     

    Now ..... if only...... the auto would be .... well, auto.

    Chris

    You must learn to be proficient in PV2012, regardless of what improvements Adobe makes to auto-tone. It will never be able to read your mind. It goofs exposure a bit more than it should, but it doesn't take long to click the exposure +1/3 or -1 button in quick dev. I think you've got Lr3's auto-tone on too high a pedestal, and Lr4's down too low.

     

     

    vidlife wrote:

     

    Is the Lightroom team working to fix this? anybody know?

    Chris

    I know there was some improvement made between Lr4.1RC2 and Lr4.1 final - have you tried it in Lr4.1 final?

     

    Rob

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 31, 2012 5:46 AM   in reply to Dirgle

    Here's another option - percent auto-toning.

     

    You edit as best you can without auto-toning, then you click to move your photo(s) a fraction of the way toward the auto-tone settings. If you like what you see, click again...

     

    Cookmarks (photo adjustment links -> basics -> auto tone)

     

    Rob

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 31, 2012 6:05 AM   in reply to vidlife

    vidlife wrote:

     

    but, see the above for all the steps and theories and experience needed to use ..... AUTO

     

    The fact is, you do not need those meanderings. Work roughly from the top down, and use your eyes.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 31, 2012 9:05 AM   in reply to Rob Cole

    Rob Cole wrote:

     

    trshaner wrote:

     

    ...manual PV2012 adjustments take no longer than PV2010 and the results are superior. As Rob Cole mentioned, speed in PV2012 comes with practice. You will start to see a pattern to the settings adjustments dependent on image type (normal exposure and contrast, under-exposed, heavily clipped highlights).

     

    I noticed contrast was omitted from this procedure. I'm assuming this was on purpose.

    Yes, I have found the vast majority of my images require very little PV2012 Contrast adjustment. When using Contrast in the top down settings flow I generally end up reducing it to near '0' on the second pass. IMHO, PV2012's image adaptive controls reduce the need for midtone Contrast adjustment.

     

    By leaving Contrast out of the mix with PV2012 you reduce the number of adjustments required. This is also why LR4's Basic develop adjustments can be done as fast or faster than in LR3, at least once you gain experience. You can certainly use the Contrast control with PV2012, and it doesn't seem to matter when you throw it into the mix. I've never needed to use a setting greater than ±25, which is very subtle.

     

    Vidlife's said,

    "Is the Lightroom team working to fix this? anybody know," concerning PV2012 Auto Tone.

     

    Eric Chan has requested image files in this post, so I am sure they are looking at improvements. My guess is that there will never be one (1) Auto Tone button in PV2012 that will work for every image type. As has already been stated, the image adaptive controls can't read your mind. What might work is to provide multiple Auto Tone settings biased to 1) maximize highlight detail, 2) maximize shadow detail, or 3) a "balance" of both.

     

    This could be implemented using an 'Auto Tone' routine in that runs the background, and then display a "ring-around" with nine small images in the Loupe:

     

    Auto Tone.jpg

    You pick the specific 'Auto Tone' image setting that best matches the desired appearance.  Don't like the look? Go back and pick another one. This should enable quick auto toning with a high level of Basic panel adjustment accuracy. The review images can be kept small to reduce the background processing time. If nothing else this would be a great "learning tool" to help novice users and beginners get onboard LR!

     

    Cheers,

     

    TR

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 31, 2012 1:16 PM   in reply to trshaner

    I like your idea of a auto-tone matrix. It can't read your mind, but you can tell it what you're thinking .

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 1, 2012 1:30 AM   in reply to Dirgle

    How to edit a photo in Lr4, the quickest way:

    ================================

     

    1. Click Auto.

    2. Adjust Exposure (left or right).

    3. Adjust Blacks (left).

     

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

     

    Explanation:

     

    * Often, exposure is off.

    * Sometimes, more black clipping is desirable.

     

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

     

    Fine tuning requires PV2012 editing skills and some time.

     

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

     

    Note: If this "procedure" doesn't cut it, please do tell. No improvement will come unless Adobe knows what to do. More specifically, do any settings other than exposure (and blacks) seem to be off much, in your opinion?

     

    In my opinion, Lr4 auto-tone does what it's intended to do pretty good, e.g. compared to Lr3, except for a larger variance in exposure (in Lr3, brightness and/or exposure was off a lot too, just less of a swing, right?) and I think it's too shy with the -blacks sometimes too.

     

    Bottom line: Lr4 auto-tone is a very useful tool, once you accept that you need the most basic of editing skills to go with it: exposure adjustment (and blacks).

     

    I know some folks want "Auto" to be 100% automatic - and I agree, some improvements are in order, but @now, it is what it is, and I hate to see folks throwing out the baby with the bath water...

     

    PS - I think ssprengel pretty much nailed where the tendency toward underexposure comes from, but what about the overexposure?

     

    Cheers,

    Rob

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 1, 2012 2:01 AM   in reply to Rob Cole

    Rob Cole wrote:

     

    How to edit a photo in Lr4, the quickest way:

    ================================

     

    1. Click Auto.

    2. Adjust Exposure (left or right).

    3. Adjust Blacks (left).

     

    Or even just steps 1 and 2. 

     

    I find auto rarely gives an optimum exposure; it often alters exposure much more than I think is right.  However, auto plus exposure adjustment is often a good starting point. 

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 6, 2012 6:41 PM   in reply to CSS Simon

    CSS Simon wrote:

     

     

    Or even just steps 1 and 2. 

     

    I find auto rarely gives an optimum exposure; it often alters exposure much more than I think is right.  However, auto plus exposure adjustment is often a good starting point. 

     

    Indeed. Adjust blacks leftward, or in some cases: right-ward (after auto-toning) only if it suits you (and the image) - exposure is the biggie... With just these 2 (or 3) things, it's not only a good starting point, but may be a good finishing point too .

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 2, 2012 3:08 PM   in reply to Rob Cole

     

    3) Set +Shadows to the same value as Highlights (i.e. -40 and +40).

     

    It seems you are trying to devise some formula to processing the digital image.  There cannot be a formula for processing an exposure… each scene is different.

     

    What each scene processed in LR4 (PV2012) needs is:

      1)  a “Black point” and a “White point” and

      2)  processing from the top down to take full advantage of PV2012.

     

    To get around the random and distracting “Auto-Exposure” try this approach…

    1. Start with an “Auto-Black point” and an “Auto-White point” without an “Auto-Exposure”:
      a) hold the “Shift” key & “Double Click” the word “Whites” and then the word “Blacks” to the left of their sliders.

           (This will set the “Black / White points” as if you selected “Auto” without effecting the “Exposure” slider)

             b) move the “Exposure” slider to adjust for global brightness, then

             c) move the “Contrast” slider to adjust for global contrast.

        2.  Set your “Highlights” and “Shadows” sliders for the scene.

    …This approach takes full benefit of PV2012 “top-down” processing.

     

    As for setting “Shadows” and “Highlights” the same – this is again formulaic and I think problematical. There is an important interplay of the “Highlights/Whites” slider pairs and the “Shadow/Blacks” slider pairs.  Take a look at George Jardine’s free video for an excellent explanation. (click here, leave your email address and George will send you a link to his video.)

     

    After watching George’s video, you most likely will want to readjust you “Blacks” and Whites” sliders to “shape” your shadows and highlights for each scene.

     

    Bob

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 2, 2012 4:26 PM   in reply to BobDiN

    Thanks for the great tips Bob .

     

    The main reason to keep +shadows value same as -highlights, at first, is to facilitate finding the most appropriate exposure value, and to factor out the large variations in tone ranges assigned to shadows and highlights for different photos.

     

    For example, sometimes -highlights will darken almost the entire image - not only "true" highlights, but also midtones and upper shadows, and shadows slider affects a very narrow range of lower shadow tones. So if one was trying to bring down the highlights with it before finding an optimal exposure, they might end up with exposure set too high, and then have a hard time toning the shadows... Wonky settings (that often include asymmetric highlight/shadows values) that allow perfect toning in 2, but not all 3 regions are a direct result of inappropriate exposure setting, and are a trap that many newcomers to Lr4 fall into - I did, about a million times, in the beginning. Now: not so much, and when I do, I catch it sooner. Likewise, sometimes shadows slider reaches across the midtones, and highlights slider affects only a narrow band...

     

    Once you know what you are doing, or in any case have exposure set right, then you can skew those h/s sliders to kingdom come. Until then, I recommend not.

     

    I mean, if the shoe don't fit, then don't wear it. - I'm sure different people have found different ways of doing things in Lr4 that work for them.

     

    In any case, this thread is primarily about auto-tone, and if you notice -highlights is always equal to +shadows value when you click it (or they are both 0). Not a bad thing for a 1-button auto-tone function to do, me-thinks.

     

    Imagine you clicked auto-tone, adjusted exposure (and maybe blacks), and now have a nicely adjusted photo, except the highlights are too bright. Here are two options both of which will remedy with almost exactly the same result:

     

    1. -highlights (the more obvious choice)

    2. -exposure -highlights (with less amount) +shadows (same amount as highlights).

     

    Which one is best?

     

    Usually #2. Why? Because PV2012 usually likes for exposure to do as much of the heavy lifting as possible, with highlights & shadows being used with smaller values.

     

    I absolutely do not recommend this being any sort of hard and fast rule for all people all the time... - the purpose of the recommendation is to help people learn PV2012. Once you learn it, you don't need no rules..

     

    Personally, I often leave global settings at symmetric values, then use locals to fine tune, or skew highlights and/or shadows sliders using relative presets designed to accomplish specific purposes. YMMV.

     

    Cheers,

    Rob

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 3, 2012 1:20 AM   in reply to BobDiN

    BobDiN wrote:

     

     

    What each scene processed in LR4 (PV2012) needs is:

      1)  a “Black point” and a “White point” and

      2)  processing from the top down to take full advantage of PV2012.

     

    To get around the random and distracting “Auto-Exposure” try this approach…

    1. Start with an “Auto-Black point” and an “Auto-White point” without an “Auto-Exposure”:
      a) hold the “Shift” key & “Double Click” the word “Whites” and then the word “Blacks” to the left of their sliders.

           (This will set the “Black / White points” as if you selected “Auto” without effecting the “Exposure” slider)

             b) move the “Exposure” slider to adjust for global brightness, then

             c) move the “Contrast” slider to adjust for global contrast.

        2.  Set your “Highlights” and “Shadows” sliders for the scene.

    …This approach takes full benefit of PV2012 “top-down” processing.

     

     

     

    You seem to be trying to use the old 'Levels' approach - setting the white point and black point and then using the middle gamma point to set the overall brightness.  That is NOT how LR4 is designed to work. With PV2012, you should first set the exposure slider to get the midtones correct; it does not matter at this point if that blows out the whites or blacks. Then you set the highlights and shadow sliders, and only after that should you use the whites and blacks sliders to tweak the exact whitepoint and blackpoint you desire. That is how PV2012 is designed to be used, and the effect of each of those sliders depends on the previous sliders having been set properly - you can't just turn it on its head as you seem to be doing and still get the best results.

     

    Autotone will rarely give as good results as doing it manually in the correct order. Autotone cannot possible know what sort of effect you want or like. I often use Autotone to get a rough and ready image to view, but I then undo it and do it manually when I get the time.

     

    Bob Frost

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 4, 2012 4:26 PM   in reply to BobDiN

    BobDiN wrote:

     

    After watching George’s video, you most likely will want to readjust you “Blacks” and Whites” sliders to “shape” your shadows and highlights for each scene.

     

    I haven't watched George's video. But I understand quite well how to use the blacks and whites sliders to shape shadows and highlights:

     

    * -blacks +shadows: increase intra-shadow contrast (or the reverse to do the oppoiste, i.e. reduce shadow stratification / tonal separation).

    * +whites -highlights: increase highlight contrast (or the reverse to do the opposite, i.e. compress highlights).

     

    And for the sake of completeness, to increase midtone contrast:

    * +contrast -highlights +shadows

     

    You know you've mastered PV2012 when you can quickly define the brightness and intra-region contrast of all 3 zones how you want them.

    (or should I say, it's one way to know you've mastered PV2012 - I'm sure lots of people have mastered it who don't even open the histogram or think about this stuff with their left brain, or in any case think about it differently... - to each their own ya know...) - that said:

     

    For advanced users, another way of specifying an editing procedure would be:

    * Define midtone level and separation, then toss a coin. If it lands on heads, adjust highlight level and separation next, if it lands on tails, then adjust shadow level and separation next, then do the other.

     

    Note: The above mentioned "procedure" somewhat violates the "top-down" regimen, since it would be:

    * exposure & contrast

    * highlights & whites

    * blacks & shadows

    or

    * exposure & contrast

    * blacks & shadows

    * highlights & whites

    depending on that coin toss.

     

    but once you've mastered PV2012, you can do what you want, instead of following somebody else's procedure.

     

    I often do this:

    * exposure & whites

    * blacks & contrast

    * highlights & shadows

    Fine tune levels and separation in all 3 zones (starting with the center zone), done.

     

    As far as I'm concerned, the only hard & fast rule is: be diligent about considering exposure first before you change anything else, since it's the linch-pin, the keystone, the fulcrum around which all else gets balanced.

     

    So, another editing procedure could be:

    * adjust exposure

    * adjust something else

    * reconsider exposure

    * adjust something else

    * reconsider exposure

    * adjust something else

    and so forth.

     

    Sorry for going off topic: this post has nothing to do with auto-toning.

     

    Cheers,

    Rob

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 4, 2012 2:43 PM   in reply to trshaner

    trshaner,

    In scanning huge amounts of black & white prints that are quite old I totally agree that there is not an obvious distinction between an old photo that lost its contrast and is overly white due to fading (even scanner time corrections have had little effects) and photos at the snow.  With the options of ) maximize highlight detail, 2) maximize shadow detail, or 3) a "balance" of both, it will allow me to get very close across the whole range of photos (ie I choose one option for all scanned photos, and apply all), then on a photo by photo basis choose another option.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 5, 2012 1:53 PM   in reply to bob frost

    bob frost wrote:

     

    ...you can't just turn it on its head and still get the best results.

     

    Not so sure about that...

     

    I mean, you *can* make use of a white-point/black-point concept, as long as you realize:

    * exposure and whites and highlights will determine the white point.

    * blacks should not be set before exposure (and it doesn't work like a normal black level slider, so don't try to make it).

     

    One problem is: if you like black, and dark shadows, but you try to get them using contrast (before adusting blacks), you end up with too much contrast, so you end up having to strain to recover highlight detail, and fill the darks without it looking over-processed... Or, you end up running shadows into the negative, then you end up with flat shadows, and maybe even flat midtones, which is fine if that's what you want, but not if it ain't.

     

    Likewise, if you like bright highlights, and try to adjust them before you get to the whites slider, you may end up cranking contrast up too high, or run highlights into the positive, after you've gone far enough with exposure I mean, and then not be able to get pleasing results across the entire image, or just have overly compressed highlights.

     

    Granted, if you have enough experience that you know blacks will be coming, and whites will be coming, and take those things into consideration when adjusting the sliders above them, then top-down can work too.

     

    But this is a procedure which does NOT work for me:

    1. adjust exposure until the image looks as good as you can make it look, as if this were the last slider you would be allowed to adjust, then

    2. adjust contrast until the image looks as good as you can make it look, as if this were the last slider you would be allowed to adjust, then

    3. adjust highlights & shadows until the image looks as good as you can make it look, as if these were the last sliders you would be allowed to adjust, then

    4. adjust whites & blacks.

     

    regarding #1 - I think the point has been made that an appropriate value of exposure may make the image look like hell initially, due to overblown highlights, yet still too dim shadows... or just impossible to tell whether it's right or wrong without filling out the histogram with contrast/whites/blacks.

     

    regarding #2 - I think this is where a lot of folks go astray. you may want more contrast than will look good until highlights & shadows get adjusted. Or you may want less contrast than will look good until blacks & whites get adjusted.

     

    regarding #3 / #4 - highlights & shadows sliders simply must be adjusted in conjunction with whites & blacks sliders for best results.

     

    Without blacks & whites sliders, PV2012 would suck, in my opinion.

     

    And what makes it so darn tricky to learn is that what you should set things to now is NOT what looks best now, but what *will* look best once you adjust some other thing(s). i.e. it's hard to make incremental improvement, with just single-slider adjustments.

     

    It would be much easier to learn if one could look at the image and say:

    * gee it's a lot too "xyz", so I'll reduce "xyz" a lot. ah, much better.

    * now it's not quite "abc" enough, so I'll increase "abc" a little. ah, that's  better.

    and so forth, until the image looks good enough, or you're out of time.

     

    But that's not how PV2012 works.

     

    Once you get the hang of it, and things click, it's heaven - and quick. But until then, it's hell - and takes forever: chasing adjustments around and around like a dog chasing it's tail...

     

    Let's see, where were we? - oh yeah: auto-tone. It *really* needs to be fixed! Why? because it's too much for people to have to take the time to master PV2012 before they can get decent results in a reasonable time frame. If one could choose from a matrix of auto-toned options where at least one of them looks pretty good after first click, but would look even better after only a few minor adjustments, it would be a righteous way for people to get good results with PV2012 out of the box, then get improved results as they improve their technique...

     

    Sorry for going on and on..., but I'm reminiscing about the past when I nearly pulled my hair out trying to get the results I wanted with PV2012.

     

    PV2012 rocks! , once you learn how to use it, until then: not so much...

    Rob

     
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    Aug 5, 2012 9:42 AM   in reply to Steven Bodnar

    Steven Bodnar wrote:

     

    trshaner,

    In scanning huge amounts of black & white prints that are quite old I totally agree that there is not an obvious distinction between an old photo that lost its contrast and is overly white due to fading (even scanner time corrections have had little effects) and photos at the snow.  With the options of ) maximize highlight detail, 2) maximize shadow detail, or 3) a "balance" of both, it will allow me to get very close across the whole range of photos (ie I choose one option for all scanned photos, and apply all), then on a photo by photo basis choose another option.

    This is just another reason for providing more than one (1) Auto Tone option. I've also done B&W print scanning to archive old family pictures and many of the prints are just as you describe. LR4.1's image adaptive controls do a great job of recovering shadow and highlight detail and restoring contrast without having to resort to the Tone Curve. As has already been mentioned it is difficult to build a preset with Basic panel settings that work well across multiple images of even this same type. Small differences in exposure, contrast and tonal balance can cause the PV2012 image adaptive controls to apply less than optimum settings. The LR4 Auto Toning engine could perhaps do this with some additional intelligence applied. It might be as simple as providing  multiple tonal options in a ring-around preview, with the "intelligence" being your own preference.

     
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    Aug 5, 2012 4:31 PM   in reply to trshaner

    Amended quick-edit procedure for more optimized images:

     

    0. Install Cookmarks.

     

    1. Click Auto

    2. Adjust Exposure (by a little or a lot, left or right, so it look nice).

    3. Try a little more black clipping (-blacks). If it makes it better, then keep it (and consider trying another dose), else undo. Only caution is not to clip too much black in the interest of trying to accomplish more contrast/punch, instead: read on...

     

    My experience is that, way more often than not, Lr4.1 auto-toner tends to create a natural (lower-contrast/lower-punch) image. If that's the style you want, then you will probably be done at this point. If not:

     

    4. click "Punch" link (Cookmark), to give more punch. (what it does is increase intra-region contrast in all 3 zones (more midtone contrast, more intra-shadow contrast, and more intra-highlight contrast, without changing overall tonality very much (histogram will be slightly extended right-ward, and show a bit more overall/global contrast), and adds a little "Presence").

     

    Now you're done.

     

    Honestly, I've spent several minutes on some images (adjusting manually), then tried again using the above procedure and ended up with something that looked very similar in only a few clicks.

     

    PS - "contrast" = separation of tones. Thus "intra-region contrast" means increasing tonal separation within a region, without affecting the tonality of adjacent region(s) - which is something that can be done using the basic sliders, but NOT using the tone curve.

     

    Cheers,

    Rob

     
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    Aug 5, 2012 4:36 PM   in reply to Rob Cole

    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.

     
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    Aug 5, 2012 4:51 PM   in reply to DdeGannes

    DdeGannes wrote:

     

    I would not venture to use it for other purposes.

     

    Not sure what you are driving at here. I mean, in my experience, Auto Tone works about the same for large or small volumes, raw or jpeg, scanned or shot...

     

    Perhaps you could give an example of a situation where auto-toning is not suitable due to the Lr design/concept. e.g. what are the specialized needs of the scanning process, or in any case what would be an example of a specialized software program that might be better suited...

     

    Rob

     
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    Aug 5, 2012 5:08 PM   in reply to Rob Cole

    My point is designing and "Auto Tone " tool to cater for files of all supported raw file formats; jpeg/tiff files; scanned files (from current photos, historic aged photos of various aging and physical condition, color, b&w, serpia toned and whatever), negative scans in varing/aging condition to historic photos; slide scan etc.

     

    Is this a realistic expectitation? The scanning software I use is Viewscan, but there are others.

     

    I have no problem with the fact that the "auto tone" is useful but the hit percentage of acceptable results would depend on the individual files. My expererience is that it works fine for well exposed, normal type scenes, but not so good for poorly exposed with difficult/unusual lighting conditions. ie. Its unrealistic to expect "auto tone" to restore a poor capture.

     
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    Aug 5, 2012 5:36 PM   in reply to DdeGannes

    Thank you for clarifying, however I do still think it's a realistic expectation for exposure to be set better - even if not well exposed to begin with.

     

    Nobody here is expecting it to read one's mind, and know whether over-bright highlights are the subject matter, or are specular... But sometimes, it sets exposure to 2.8 instead of .7, and everything is shoved way too far rightward - it boggles the mind, and ain't good enough, in my opinion.

     

    I mean, there are 2 issues that I see:

    1. The same issue that all auto-toners have: can't read user's mind - this aspect would be nicely solved by an auto-tone matrix, as trshaner has suggested.

    2. Wildly wrong calculation of exposure - this can only be remedied by an algorithm fix (or bug fix).

    and for the sake of completeness:

    3. the issue of not being a pixel editor, and having to use the basic sliders instead of whatever for doing the toning... - but this is as it is...

     

    Rob

     
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    Aug 5, 2012 6:19 PM   in reply to Rob Cole

    Man I'm glad I found this thread and now I know that I'm not crazy! I've had lots of photos imported from LR3 and they look great/auto correct nicely if stuck on PV2010 but once I switch it over to PV2012 it all goes to ****. Not to mention my D300 Standard/Portrait etc look just horrid. The only starting point I can use is "Adobe Standard" or DX Mode 2.

     
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    Aug 5, 2012 6:22 PM   in reply to Rob Cole

    I understand your views, for me If I want to try on a particular image I click the button, if it does not suit my tast I click edit/undo.

     
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    Aug 6, 2012 12:15 AM   in reply to DdeGannes

    Whatever works for you... For me, I clicked auto-tone a few times in the early days, decided it had been totally goofed up, then never touched it again, until my curiosity was aroused again by a couple of recent threads (including this one). But the real issue of this thread is:

     

    Is auto-tone really working as good as can be expected? If not, then how about a remedy, Adobe? In my opinion, it is most definitely *not* working as good as can be expected.

     

    Most of the people who really want the auto-tone to work better fall in 2 categories:

    * Those who must develop a high-speed editing procedure, since editing each image individually manually is not practical, even if they are 100% proficient with PV2012.

    * Those who don't know how to use PV2012, and need for Lr to come up with something that is at least in the ball park, so they have a fightin' chance...

     

    Clicking auto-tone to see if it suits their taste, and if not, then editing manually, is not a satisfying solution, for them.

     

    Rob

     
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    Aug 5, 2012 8:31 PM   in reply to dwressler

    dwressler wrote:

     

    Man I'm glad I found this thread and now I know that I'm not crazy!

     

    Just because Lr4's auto-tone is a little iffy, does not mean you aren't going crazy .

     

     

     

    dwressler wrote:

     

    ...but once I switch it over to PV2012 it all goes to ****.

     

    I'm not sure how much you are talking about the conversion from PV2010 to PV2012, and how much you are talking about the auto-tone feature.

     

    Regarding the former, one thing to note:

     

    If PV2010 version had blacks > 5, you will almost certainly have to pull the blacks slider way leftward after converting.

     

    (this thread is the subject of the latter)

     

     

     

    dwressler wrote:

     

    Not to mention my D300 Standard/Portrait etc look just horrid. The only starting point I can use is "Adobe Standard" or DX Mode 2.

     

    I think you should report this to Adobe in another thread here:

     

    http://feedback.photoshop.com/photoshop_family/topics/new

     

     

     

     

    Rob

     
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    Aug 6, 2012 12:03 AM   in reply to dwressler

    dwressler wrote:

     

    Man I'm glad I found this thread and now I know that I'm not crazy! I've had lots of photos imported from LR3 and they look great/auto correct nicely if stuck on PV2010 but once I switch it over to PV2012 it all goes to ****. Not to mention my D300 Standard/Portrait etc look just horrid. The only starting point I can use is "Adobe Standard" or DX Mode 2.

    Like Rob, I don't quite follow the connection to Auto tone.  With images already imported into LR3, the strong recommendation is don't convert to PV2012 unless you want to do further editing. 

     

    However, when you talk of "D300 Standard/Portrait", do you mean the camera profiles?  They haven't changed, as far as I can see.  If you use a D300, I recommend you use the "v4" profiles.  From LR3.6, for the D300 and one or two other Nikons, additional Camera Calibration profiles were provided with names like "Camera Standard v4" and so on.  Apparently the earlier profiles weren't quite right (Eric Chan doesn't use Nikon and hadn't noticed the problem, so the word has it) and the v4 profiles handle highlights rather better.  That's nothing to do with LR4; as I say, they came with LR3.6.  But in my view, the v4 "Camera..." profiles are much, much better than Adobe Standard (or the Camera D2X mode profiles). 

     
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    Aug 6, 2012 2:08 AM   in reply to CSS Simon

    I just auto-toned another (extremely tricky to edit in PV2012) photo - original exposure could best be described as "slightly underexposed".

     

    Auto-toned settings:

    Exposure +4.2

    Contrast -25

    Highlights -37

    Shadows +37

    Whites 0

    Blacks -42

     

    Yep, we have a new record for most overexposed by the auto-toner.

     

    Yet simply by lowering exposure down to 1.7, the result is better than anything I was able to come up with previously by editing manually - dunno whether to be happy (with the auto-toner, despite initial overexposure) or bummed (that I wasn't able to do it better m'self).

     

    Sorry, but I don't have permission to post it.

     

    PS - I just added a new flavor of punchifier to Cookmarks, we now have:

     

    * Punch (normal)

    * Punch (for auto-toned images)

     

    I have to tell y'all I'm getting some great results in record time simply by auto-toning, exposure adjustment, maybe blacks, and if not punchy enough, hitting the "Punchifier for auto-toned images" link.

     

    ,

    Rob

     
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    Aug 6, 2012 4:36 AM   in reply to trshaner

    trshaner wrote:

     

    When using Contrast in the top down settings flow I generally end up reducing it to near '0' on the second pass.

     

    That's what happens when you try to set contrast before -blacks and/or +whites are in the ball park.

     

    And likewise, in my experience, if it's the kind of photo that's going to need +blacks and/or -whites, the tendency is to increase contrast on the second pass, if the first pass when contrast was set was top down.

     

    Consider BobDiN's tip:

     

    1. Shift-double-click 'Whites' & 'Blacks' (the words, not the sliders), then

    2. Adjust top down - you should be able to set contrast more accurately now, on the first pass, if you care to bother.

     

    Note: auto-tone values for whites and blacks depends on camera profile selected, but they do not depend on anything else that I have discovered so far.

     

    Rob

     
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    Aug 6, 2012 7:19 AM   in reply to Rob Cole

    Yes I found this advice about the blacks/whites is sound and it makes it easy from there. I have also found that after correcting shadows, highlights and exposure auto contrast is very close.

     

    Takes a while to get used to but should use an xRite Passport and create a shoot profile as it makes it so consistent and easy ...

     
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