7 Replies Latest reply on May 25, 2015 4:14 PM by trshaner

    Auto Levels (again)


      I know this has been talked about to death, but just hear me out.


      I'm a bit of a Lightroom newbie, having migrated from Photoshop Elements. Auto Levels functions pretty well (for my purposes) in PE, and from what I've read, there is no real equivelant in Lightroom. I'm Ok with that, but surely there is a way obtain the same results manually, especially given where these two products sit in the market place?

      It doesn't seem to matter how much tweaking I do in LR, I simply cannot achieve the same results. So, I'm hoping someone can suggest where I'm going wrong.

      The following photo is maybe not the best example, but it's currently what I'm working on. With the basic develop panel, I can get close to the same results. What's bugging me in particular, is the tree line on the right of the back far bank. They are just brigther and greener than I can get in LR, without screwing everything else up.

      I'm hoping someone can advise me what adjustments I can make to mimic the PE results, for this photo and and all others.

      Thanks heaps.

      Delta Jct - Lost Lake-Original.jpg Delta Jct - Lost Lake-1_PSElements.jpg

      The original is on the left, and the version edited in Photoshop Elements is on the right.

        • 1. Re: Auto Levels (again)
          ManiacJoe Adobe Community Professional

          Something to try:


          right-side trees
          tone curve: -5 10 30 20 (boosts the shadows)


          left-side trees
          adjustment brush (auto mask): +1.0 exposure


          After that, in the basic panel:
          down the highlights
          up the shadows
          up the whites
          0 or down the blacks
          up the clarity
          huge up on the vibrance


          Assuming you are starting from a raw file, the first thing to pick is the "profile" in the Camera Calibration panel. I usually start with "camera neutral" as that is what I have my camera Picture Control set to so that the camera and LR show the same starting image.

          • 2. Re: Auto Levels (again)
            StopGap Level 1

            Thanks ManiacJoe - that's certainly brought me closer.


            I haven't tried the brush as yet (cos I don't know how), but should I be looking to the Tone Curve as the tool which will get me closer to my previous Auto Levels results for other photos?



            • 3. Re: Auto Levels (again)
              ManiacJoe Adobe Community Professional

              I use the tone curve when I need to do some major brightness changes.

              Other apps call it the gamma or levels correction.


              For LR, I created a set of presets that contain different curve shapes so that they can be applied independently of other edits.

              Some are just a simple bowed curve to mimic gamma corrections; others are S-shaped help with deep shadows and bright whites in the same photo.

              • 4. Re: Auto Levels (again)
                99jon Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                Have you tried the Auto Tone button? You don’t even have to leave the Library. It’s under Quick Develop.

                • 5. Re: Auto Levels (again)
                  trshaner Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                  This picture has a fairly normal dynamic range and doesn't require the Tone Curve or Adjustment Brush to get good results. You can certainly "enhance" the picture using those Local controls, but first try the Basic Panel's Global controls.


                  Here's a quick primer on using LR's PV2012 Basic panel controls:


                  Start with all of the Tone controls at their default 0 settings and adjust them from the top-down in the order shown below.


                  1. Set Exposure to correct midtone brightness ignoring the highlight and shadow areas for now. Setting Exposure slightly higher (+.25 to +.50 EV) than what looks correct for the midtones seems to work best with most images.


                  2. Leave Contrast at 0 for now. It’s usually better to adjust this after the first pass.


                  3. Adjust Highlights so that blown out areas are recovered and “fine tonal detail” is revealed.


                  4. Adjust Shadows to reveal fine detail in dark areas. For most normal images simply setting -Shadows = +Highlights (Example -50 and +50) works very well.


                  5. The Whites control sets the white clipping point, which you can see by holding down the ALT key as you move the slider. Adjust it to the point where you see clipping appear with the ALT key.


                  6. The Blacks control sets the black clipping point, which you can see by holding down the ALT key as you move the slider. Adjust it to the point where you see clipping appear with the ALT key.


                  7. Now go back and adjust the Contrast control to establish the best midtone contrast.


                  8. Lastly touchup the Exposure control for the best midtone brightness.


                  9. If necessary “touch-up” the controls using the same top-down workflow.


                  Once you understand how the Basic panel PV2012 Tone controls work it only takes a few seconds to make these adjustments.


                  Using the above procedure with your JPEG screenshot I came up with the below settings.


                  Here's the result using your JPEG screenshot.


                  Left image has no adjustments. Right image has the above LR adjustments.


                  With the original file you should get even better results!

                  • 6. Re: Auto Levels (again)
                    StopGap Level 1

                    Thanks trshaner - that's also got me pretty close. Maybe I was just being a little tentative with how much of these adjustments I was using.


                    Thank you both for some the advice.

                    • 7. Re: Auto Levels (again)
                      trshaner Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                      PS Auto Levels only sets the Black and White clipping points and midtone exposure setting. LR's PV2012 Tone controls include the Highlights and Shadows sliders, which greatly increase the ability to recover details in those image areas. In fact they are so good I rarely need to use The Tone Curve tool. For best results make sure you are shooting in raw file format. I've been able to take image files that I would have previously deleted as hopeless and turn them into very acceptable images. With more difficult images the Local Graduated Filter, Radial Filter, and Adjustment Brush allow you to apply additional correction to specific areas of the image. A very powerful set of tools!