7 Replies Latest reply on Apr 29, 2018 8:55 AM by JohanEl54

    Adjusting Tone Curve Before Tone Sliders?

    StanWelks Level 1

      Does it make a difference if I start adjusting contrast with the Tone Curve before adjusting Highlights, Whites, Shadows, Blacks, Exposure? Are there any issues with doing this?

       

      Thanks.

        • 1. Re: Adjusting Tone Curve Before Tone Sliders?
          ManiacJoe Adobe Community Professional

          Since the order of operations done by Lightroom during the export is not publicly documented, it probably does not matter what order your do them in.

           

          That said, if I am going to use a tone curve, I always do it first. It is probably just my mindset, but I see the tone curve as a "big" adjustment while the sliders are a "small" adjustment.

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          • 2. Re: Adjusting Tone Curve Before Tone Sliders?
            JohanEl54 Adobe Community Professional

            StanWelks  wrote

             

            Does it make a difference if I start adjusting contrast with the Tone Curve before adjusting Highlights, Whites, Shadows, Blacks, Exposure? Are there any issues with doing this?

             

            Thanks.

            No, it does not matter. Lightroom is a parametric editor. That means that all the edits are stored in metadata, like a grocery list or a 'to do' list. That list is always followed in a certain order, determined by Adobe. Just like you'll get your groceries in a certain order that is determined by the lay-out of the shop, not by the order in which you made the list.

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            • 3. Re: Adjusting Tone Curve Before Tone Sliders?
              Todd Shaner Adobe Community Professional & MVP

              The Tone Curve is applied after the Basic panel Tone controls. To prove this move the Tone Curve end points vertically from the 0% and 100% and then try to reestablish the 0 and 100 clipping points using the Whites and Blacks controls in the Basic panel. It can't be done (see below). So it does matter in what order these controls are adjusted.

               

              Adobe has placed the individual Basic panel Tone controls and the Tone curve in a top-down adjustment order that works best. The PV2012 Version 3 or Version 4 Tone Controls should be applied first so you can determine if adjustments to the Tone Curve are even needed. There are some situations where you may need to apply the Tone Curve first such as processing negative film images (inverted Tone Curve) or for special effects (solarisation). Other than these "special cases" you'll get better results in a shorter period of time by using the top-down adjustment workflow with Tone Curve last.

               

              You may also find the new Version 4 Local controls Range Mask Luminace and Color controls more useful than the Tone Curve since they allow targeting tone and color in specific image areas.

               

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              • 4. Re: Adjusting Tone Curve Before Tone Sliders?
                JohanEl54 Adobe Community Professional

                Todd Shaner  wrote

                 

                The Tone Curve is applied after the Basic panel Tone controls. To prove this move the Tone Curve end points vertically from the 0% and 100% and then try to reestablish the 0 and 100 clipping points using the Whites and Blacks controls in the Basic panel. It can't be done (see below). So it does matter in what order these controls are adjusted.

                 

                No, it does not matter. Yes, the tone curve may be applied after the Basic tone controls. Nobody is saying otherwise. But that is not the point. The point is that this order is always the same, no matter in what order you did the edits. That is because the 'edits' are only a list in XMP, and when applying those edits Lightroom will go through the list in a fixed order, that you cannot change.

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                • 5. Re: Adjusting Tone Curve Before Tone Sliders?
                  richardplondon Level 4

                  Rather than speaking of which is "after", perhaps it is clearer to talk of which "depends" on the other's processing.

                   

                  • However local adjustments are modifying the source data, this is what the Basic Panel has got to work with
                  • However the Basic panel is currently adjusting the image: this is what Tone Curve has got to work with
                  • Split Toning etc works on the result of that.

                   

                  Say the reason highlights are blown out, is because Basic panel (in combination with local adjustments) has set them too bright: there is nothing Tone Curve can now do to retrieve that lost detail. It is necessary to make a change in Basic panel (or local adjustments). On the other hand if the reason highlights are blown out is because Tone Curve is pushing then through the roof, then dialling back Tone Curve will be the better course in terms of tonal smoothness, than it would be to have a very strong lightening in Tone Curve fighting against an input which is needlessly "underexposed" (more strictly, under-lightened).

                   

                  And if the reason shadows are noisily blocked is because Basic panel has set them too dark. Tone Curve's attempt to mitigate this will just look crude.

                   

                  For these reasons, IMO it is best to consider Tone Curve as a special-purpose "tone shaper" or "special sauce" rather than as some kind of fundamental control for the image. Not least, one may follow a policy of processing first for a standard tonal presentation in Basic - and then afterwards to Sync some particular applied tonal look or character over the top - one which operates consistently in visual terms from image to image, somewhat as a LUT might when applied to JPGs - via the independent means of Tone Curve.

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                  • 6. Re: Adjusting Tone Curve Before Tone Sliders?
                    Todd Shaner Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                    JohanEl54  wrote

                    No, it does not matter. Yes, the tone curve may be applied after the Basic tone controls. Nobody is saying otherwise. But that is not the point. The point is that this order is always the same, no matter in what order you did the edits.

                    Johan that is correct, but not the point I was trying to make. Here's what the OP asked:

                     

                    "Does it make a difference if I start adjusting contrast with the Tone Curve before adjusting Highlights, Whites, Shadows, Blacks, Exposure? Are there any issues with doing this?"

                     

                    My advice applies to best LR workflow practices without regard to how the Tone Curve is actually applied. In addition there is an "issue" if the Tone Curve is applied first and the end points are moved vertically off of 0% and 100%.

                     

                    The only time it makes sense to apply the Tone Curve first is to change the default tonal rendering of a specific camera profile. Even in this case it would be better to create an enhanced camera profile that includes these Tone Curve settings using the new LR 7.3 Profile tools. This leaves the Tone Curve at its default linear setting making it easier to use when needed.

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                    • 7. Re: Adjusting Tone Curve Before Tone Sliders?
                      JohanEl54 Adobe Community Professional

                      OK, so maybe our answer to the OP should be this:

                      1: No, it does not make a difference in the end result. No matter what order you use, the result is always the same.

                      2: Yes, there could be 'issues' if you apply the tone curve first, in that you may try to 'undo' something you did in the Basic pane that cannot be undone by the Tone curve anymore.

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