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Develop module image editing

Chapter Description

In this sample chapter from The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic CC Book, author Martin Evening discusses smarter image processing with Lightroom, including how to use the Develop module interface, the Basic panel, the Tone Curve panel, and more.

The Develop module interface

The Develop module has everything photographers need to make adjustments and corrections to their images (Figure 4.6). The main controls are located in the right panel section. The panels in the right section of the Develop module can be expanded by clicking the panel headers. If you p0012_04.jpg-click an individual panel header, you put the panels into “solo” mode, which means that as you click to select and expand a panel, this action simultaneously closes all the other panels. You can reset the individual Develop settings at any time by double-clicking the slider names. At the top are the Histogram panel and Develop Tools panel, and below that the Basic panel, which is where you make all the main tone and color adjustments. This is followed by a Tone Curve panel, which provides you with a more advanced level of control over the image tones, letting you further fine-tune the tone settings after they have been adjusted in the Basic panel. The Tone Curve features a Target Adjustment tool, which when you click to activate it, allows you to click and drag on an area in the image itself to lighten or darken, instead of dragging the sliders. Similar Target mode controls are available when making HSL and B&W panel adjustments. The Tone Curve panel also features a point curve editing mode and the ability to edit individual RGB channels.

Figure 4.6

Figure 4.6 The Develop module interface.

Below that is the HSL / Color / B&W panel. The HSL tab section provides similar controls to the Hue/Saturation adjustment in Photoshop, where you can separately adjust the hue, saturation, and luminance components of an image. The Color tab section is similar to HSL but with simpler controls (and no Target mode option). Clicking the B&W tab section (or using the p0162_15.jpg shortcut) converts an image to black and white and lets you make custom monochrome conversions, creatively blending the RGB color channels to produce different types of black-and-white outputs.

The Split Toning controls can be used to colorize the shadows and highlights separately (the Split Toning controls work quite nicely on color images, as well as on black-and-white photos). The Detail panel lets you add sharpness to imported images and has controls for suppressing the color and luminance noise.

The Lens Corrections panel allows you to correct for global lens vignetting, as well as the chromatic aberrations responsible for color fringing. It also offers auto lens corrections, plus automatic perspective and manual transforms. The Effects panel includes post-crop vignette sliders for applying vignette effects to cropped images, Grain sliders for adding film grain effects, plus a Dehaze slider.

The Camera Calibration panel lets you apply custom camera profile or camera calibration settings that can compensate for variations in the color response of individual camera sensors. Develop settings can be saved as custom presets. The left panel contains a selection of default presets to get you started, but it is easy to create your own presets using all, or partial combinations, of the Develop module settings. As you roll over the list in the Presets panel, you will see an instant preview in the Navigator panel, without having to click to apply the effect to an image.

View options in Develop

If you go to the view menu and choose View Options (p0164_01.jpg [Mac] or p0164_02.jpg [PC]), you can access the dialog shown in Figure 4.7. This includes a “Show message when loading or rendering photos” option at the bottom; check it if you want a message to appear whenever the Develop module is processing a photo.

Figure 4.7

Figure 4.7 The Develop View Options dialog. The options here are the same as in the Loupe View settings in the Library View Options dialog (see page 98).

Develop module cropping

From any of the modules in Lightroom, you can use the p0162_10.jpg keyboard shortcut to switch directly to the Crop Overlay mode in the Develop module. Or, if you are already in the Develop module, you can also click the Crop Overlay mode button in the Tools panel. Figure 4.8 shows a close-up view of the Crop Overlay tool panel controls. Once you are in the Crop Overlay mode, a crop bounding box appears, initially selecting all of the image. As you drag the crop handles, the image and crop edges move relative to the center of the crop and the areas outside the crop bounding box appear shaded. In the Figure 4.9 example, as I dragged the top-right handle inward, the image shifted out of the way to accommodate the change made to the crop area, and the center crop handles (aligned to the green line) always remained in the center of the content area.

Figure 4.8

Figure 4.8 A close-up view of the Crop Overlay tool panel controls.

Figure 4.9

Figure 4.9 An example of a crop overlay being applied to an image.

Dragging inside the crop bounding box lets you easily reposition the photograph relative to the crop bounding box. If you hold down the p0012_04.jpg key, you can resize the crop bounding box relative to the crop box center. You can also click the Crop Frame tool in the Tools panel (Figure 4.8) to activate it: Place the Crop Frame tool over the photograph, and then click and drag to make a free-form crop (as you would using the Crop tool in Photoshop). When you have finished defining a crop, the Crop Overlay tool returns to its docked position in the Tools panel. Click the Close button to apply a crop and exit the Tools panel (or just press p0162_10.jpg). To reset the Crop Overlay, click the Reset button or use p0164_03.jpg (Mac) or p0164_04.jpg (PC). Whenever you drag one of the crop handles to make a non-rotational crop, you will see a dividing-thirds grid overlay the image (as can be seen in Figure 4.9). The dividing-thirds overlay lines can be useful as an aid to composition, though you can also choose from other custom overlay options. In the Toolbar, you can choose for the Tool overlay to always be on, off, or in Auto mode, when it will be visible only when you drag one of the crop handles.

Rotating a crop

To rotate and crop an image at the same time, move outside the crop bounding box, click, and drag. Alternatively, you can use the Angle slider in the Tools panel, or the Straighten tool, to straighten a photograph. In either case, the image rotates relative to the crop bounding box (which always remains level).

  1. I clicked to select the Crop Overlay tool, then simply dragged to apply a free-form crop to the photograph. When I released the click, the Crop Overlay tool returned to its usual location in the Tools panel.

  2. First, I clicked the Constrain Aspect Ratio Lock button (circled) to unlock. This allowed me to then click a corner or side handle of the crop bounding box and drag to reposition the crop without restriction.

  3. I then clicked to select the Straighten tool and dragged it across the image to define a straighten angle (you can also adjust the straighten angle by using the Angle slider in the Tools panel).

  4. You can also straighten a photograph by clicking anywhere outside the crop bounding box and dragging. As you can see here, when I did so, a fine grid appeared. You can use the grid lines to help align the rotation to elements within the photograph.

Constrain to image cropping

Because Lightroom can apply lens profile corrections and transform adjustments, profile-corrected or transformed images can end up being distorted to some degree. For example, when you apply a lens profile correction, the crop is normally constrained to the warped image bounds. However, extreme Upright adjustments or manual transforms can result in white padded areas showing around the outer bounds of the image. Checking the Constrain to Image option ensures the crop bounds never exceed the image bounds (Figure 4.10).

Figure 4.10

Figure 4.10 Checking the Constrain to Image box in the Crop Overlay and Lens Corrections panel settings automatically constrains the warp to the image bounds.

Auto straightening

The Crop Overlay tool features an Auto button. This essentially provides the same function as a Level Upright adjustment applied via the Transform panel (which is discussed later in this chapter). The following steps demonstrate applying the Auto option being applied.

  1. I began by selecting the Crop Overlay tool.

  2. I then clicked the Auto button (circled) to auto straighten the photograph. This applied the same type of adjustment as a Level Upright adjustment in the Lens Corrections panel.

Crop aspect ratios

When the Constrain Aspect Ratio Lock is on (p0170_01.jpg toggles the lock closed/on and open/off), the current crop aspect ratio will be preserved as you apply a crop (Figure 4.11). If no crop has been applied yet, the aspect ratio will be locked to the current image proportions. So, if you click the crop bounding box and drag any of the handles, such as a corner handle, the crop area will match the exact proportions of the current image. In Crop Overlay mode, you can use the p0685_06.jpg key to rotate the aspect ratio (i.e., you can change a current landscape aspect ratio crop to a portrait crop). Also, when the Crop Aspect Ratio Lock is on, you can quite easily flip the aspect ratio from landscape to portrait (or vice versa) by dragging the corner handle in such a way as to force the aspect ratio to switch. You can select any of the aspect ratio presets from the Aspect Ratio list or choose Enter Custom, which opens the dialog shown in Figure 4.12. Here, you can enter settings for a new custom aspect ratio setting and click OK to add this setting to the Crop presets list. Hold down the p0012_04.jpg key when changing the aspect ratio to have the Crop Overlay fill the current image bounds.

Figure 4.11

Figure 4.11 The Constrain Aspect Ratio Lock is closed (circled), which means the crop bounding box is locked to the current aspect ratio.

Figure 4.12

Figure 4.12 The Enter Custom Aspect Ratio dialog.

Repositioning a crop

The Crop tool in Lightroom always restricts the cropping to within the boundary of the document. Unlike Photoshop, you cannot drag the Crop tool outside the image document area to increase the canvas area. You can crop an image only within the confines of the photograph (plus padded areas). So, however you drag or rotate the crop, you will always be applying the crop to the inside of the picture. When you click inside the crop bounding box, the pointer changes to show the Hand tool, which allows you to scroll the image relative to the crop. As you drag, the crop box remains static and the image moves behind the crop.

Crop guide overlays

In the Tools ➯ Crop Guide Overlay menu, there are seven crop guide overlays you can choose from. These range from the simple grid crop guide overlay shown earlier, to other more exotic overlay designs, such as a Diagonal crop and an Aspect Ratios crop guide overlay. The Thirds overlay provides a standard reference that you may already be used to seeing in say, a camera viewfinder screen, while the Golden Ratio and Golden Spiral crop overlays offer new ways to preview a photo as you compose a crop. With regards to the Aspect Ratios overlay, you can go to the Tools ➯ Crop Guide Overlay menu and select Choose Aspect Ratios to open the dialog shown in Figure 4.13. This lets you select which aspect ratio options you want made visible. Regardless of which crop guide overlay you choose, the Grid overlay design shown in Step 4 on page 167 always appears whenever you rotate a crop by dragging outside the crop bounding box. The Grid overlay is useful in these instances because it can help you align the horizontal or vertical lines when straightening an image.

Figure 4.13

Figure 4.13 The Choose Aspect Ratios dialog.

When working in Crop Overlay mode, you can use the p0171_01.jpg keyboard shortcut to cycle through the crop guide overlays and the p0171_02.jpg shortcut to cycle through the crop guide orientation for the individual Triangle and Golden Spiral crop overlay modes. Triangle includes two modes and Golden Spiral has eight. The cycled overlay options can be accessed via the Tools ➯ Crop Guide Overlay menu (Figure 4.14). You can use this to choose which options are available as you cycle through them using the p0171_01.jpg keyboard shortcut.

Figure 4.14

Figure 4.14 This shows the Tools ➯ Crop Guide Overlay ➯ Cycled Overlays options.

So, why should you want to use these different crop overlays? Cropping is partly about trimming away parts of the picture that are distracting and aligning straight edges, but it is also about creating a nice-looking, well-balanced visual composition of the picture content. These alternative crop overlays can, therefore, help you compose better when applying a crop.

Canceling a crop

You can use the p0172_01.jpg key to revert to a previously applied setting made during a crop session. Let’s say you have a photo that has been cropped and rotated slightly. If you were to alter the crop by adjusting the crop ratio or crop angle and then press the p0172_01.jpg key, you would be taken back to the original crop setting. If, on the other hand, you adjusted the crop, exited the crop mode for this photo, started editing photos in another folder, and returned later to this picture, the new crop setting would be the one Lightroom reverts back to if you readjusted the crop and pressed the p0172_01.jpg key. Essentially, canceling a crop is not the same as resetting the Crop Overlay. Canceling takes you back to how the image was before you edited it, which might include a previously applied crop adjustment.

Tool Overlay menu

The Tool Overlay options can be accessed via the Toolbar at the bottom of the content area or the Tools menu (Figure 4.15). The Tool Overlay menu can be used to control the behavior of on-screen overlays. Different options appear when the Spot Removal, Red Eye, Graduated Filter, Radial Filter, or Adjustment Brush are made active. I will be covering these in more detail toward the end of the chapter. But for now let’s just look at the Tool Overlay menu options in the context of the Crop Overlay tool.

Figure 4.15

Figure 4.15 The Tool Overlay menu options.

The Tool Overlay options

The Tool Overlay options in Crop Overlay mode determine the visibility of the crop overlays. If you select the Always Show menu option, the crop overlay remains visible at all times. If you want to hide the crop overlays, select Never Show. The Auto Show mode makes the tool overlays visible only when you hover over the content area. In other words, the Crop Overlay guides will disappear from view whenever you roll the pointer outside the image area, such as to the top panel menu.

Another way to work with the tool overlay show/hide feature is to use the p0172_02.jpg (Mac) or p0172_03.jpg (PC) keyboard shortcut, which acts as a toggle for switching between the Always Show and Never Show options. An easier-to-remember (and more flexible) shortcut is to simply use the p0172_04.jpg key. This toggles between the Auto Show and Never Show modes. Or, it toggles between the Always Show and Never Show modes (depending on whether you had Auto Show or Always Show selected first).

Quick Develop cropping

The Crop Ratio menu options in the Library module Quick Develop panel (Figure 4.16) can be used to apply a preset crop ratio that trims the photo evenly on either side. Cropping is something you usually want to apply manually to each photo individually, but having a quick way to change the aspect ratio for a bunch of photos in one go might be quite useful for someone like a school portrait photographer who wants to quickly prepare a set of portraits using a fixed-aspect ratio setting. As with the Develop module Crop Overlay options, you can click the Enter Custom item in the Crop Ratio pop-up menu to create your own Custom Aspect Ratio crop settings for use in the Quick Develop panel (Figure 4.9). In the Figure 4.17 example below, I selected an 8.5 x 11 proportional crop and applied this to the selected photograph. The custom crop settings are also shared between the Develop module and the Quick Develop panel in the Library module.

Figure 4.16

Figure 4.16 The Quick Develop Crop Ratio menu contains a list of presets.

Figure 4.17

Figure 4.17 I applied an 8.5 x 11 proportional crop to this landscape image, which originally had a 2 x 3 aspect ratio.

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