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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 Tone Curve panel

The Tone Curve controls offer a different approach to tone curve mapping, where the tone curve is modified through slider control (parametric) adjustments. The Tone Curve controls are presented in this way to encourage people to make Tone Curve adjustments based on descriptive criteria (Figure 4.48). If you are used to working with the point-edit Curves dialog in Photoshop, the Lightroom method may appear restrictive at first, but the Tone Curve slider controls in Lightroom can often inspire you to create tone curve shapes that are quite unlike any curve shape you might have applied when using the traditional point curve method. The parametric Tone Curve sliders now make curves adjustments accessible to everyone, but the good news is, you can still manipulate the curve graph directly by clicking a point on the curve and dragging up or down to modify that particular section of the curve. Best of all, you can edit the curve by targeting an area of interest in the image directly. You can also use the keyboard arrow keys: The up and down arrows can be used to increase or decrease the tone values (the left and right arrow keys are reserved for navigating images in the Filmstrip). Holding down the p0024_01.jpg key as you adjust the values applies larger incremental adjustments. If you enable the Target Adjustment tool button p0226_01.jpg (Mac) or p0226_02.jpg (PC), you can then click any part of the image and drag up or down to make the tones there lighter or darker. When you start using the Target Adjustment tool editing method to refine the tones in an image, you will not necessarily even need to look at the Tone Curve panel. You can turn off the Target Adjustment tool by clicking the Target Adjustment tool button again, pressing p0172_01.jpg, or by using the p0226_03.jpg (Mac) or p0226_04.jpg (PC) shortcut.

Figure 4.48

Figure 4.48 The Histogram and Tone Curve panels.

The four main sliders for controlling the tone curve are Highlights, Lights, Darks, and Shadows. These controls also provide a shaded preview of the range of the shapes an individual Tone Curve slider adjustment can make. In Figure 4.48, I was in the process of adjusting the Shadows slider, and you will notice how the histogram in the Histogram panel is mirrored in the curve graph and both are updated as you edit the Tone Curve controls. The gray-shaded area represents the limits of all possible tone curve shapes I could create with this particular slider in conjunction with the other current slider settings. For those who understand curves, this provides a useful visual reference of how the curve can look.

As mentioned earlier, the Basic panel is used to apply the main tone adjustments. It is important to understand that these are all applied upstream of any Tone Curve adjustments, so the Tone Curve slider is an image-adjustment control that you always want to apply after you have made the initial Basic panel adjustments.

The layout of the Tone Curve panel is influenced to some degree by the legacy constraints of the Adobe Camera Raw plug-in. It has been necessary to ensure that the settings applied to an image via Camera Raw in Photoshop are also recognized (and made accessible) when the same image is opened via the Develop module in Lightroom. I mention all this as an explanation for the presence of the Point Curve menu at the bottom of the Tone Curve panel (Figure 4.49). In the early days of Camera Raw, some purists argued that the tone curve for processing raw files should always default to a linear mode, and if you wanted to add contrast, it was up to you to edit the curve how you wanted. Meanwhile, almost every other raw converter program was applying a moderate amount of contrast to the curve by default. The reason for this was because most photographers tend to like their pictures with a more contrasty and film-like look as a standard setting. For example, Capture One applies adaptive tone adjustments to newly imported photos that in most instances produce a more contrasty default look compared to Lightroom. Consequently, the Adobe Camera Raw plug-in has evolved to offer three choices of curve contrast: Linear, Medium Contrast, and Strong Contrast. So, the Point Curve menu in the Tone Curve panel (not to be confused with the point curve editing mode discussed on page 228) is mainly there to allow you to match up raw files that have been imported with legacy Camera Raw settings. With Version 1/Version 2, the default setting for raw files was Medium Contrast. With Version 4, the default point curve now says Linear and, as you would expect, presents a straight line curve. But this is, in fact, applying the same underlying curve setting as the previous default Process Version 1/Version 2 Medium Contrast tone curve. Basically, the current Linear curve does exactly the same thing as the older Version 1/Version 2 curve: It applies more of a kick to the shadows to make them slightly darker and lightens the highlights slightly. This also brings the benefit of tone curve setting compatibility between non-raw and raw images. Non-raw images have always defaulted to a linear tone curve shape. This remains the case in Version 4. Consequently, the starting point for both raw and non-raw images is now the same: a linear tone curve representation. The Point Curve options are, therefore, nothing more than a curve shape setting, and these can be used as a starting point when making further edits to the tone curve.

Figure 4.49

Figure 4.49 The Point Curve menu offers a choice of three curve settings.

If you convert a Version 1/Version 2 tone curve to Version 4, the tone curve shape will appear adjusted (even though the parameter values will actually remain the same). Therefore, Tone Curve settings are now process-version-specific. This means whenever you save a Develop preset that includes a Tone Curve setting, you are obliged to include saving the Process Version setting along with the Tone Curve setting.

The tone range split points at the bottom of the tone curve let you restrict or broaden the range of tones that are affected by the four Tone Curve sliders (Figure 4.50). Adjusting each of the three tone range split points enables you to further fine-tune the shape of the curve. For example, moving the dark tone range split point to the right offsets the midpoint between the Shadows and Darks adjustments. These adjustment sliders are particularly useful for those instances where you are unable to achieve the exact tone localized contrast adjustment you are after when using the Tone Curve sliders on their own (see also page 238).

Figure 4.50

Figure 4.50 The tone range split point controls.

Point Curve editing mode

To switch to the Point Curve editing mode (Figure 4.51), click the button circled in Step 1 below. In this mode, you can click on the curve to add new control points and drag these up or down to modify the curve shape. The before/after value of the control point that is being moved is shown in the top-left corner of the editor view as a percentage value. When selecting an existing control point to move, you do have to click within a few pixels of the control point on the curve. It can help here to hold down the p0012_04.jpg key as you adjust individual control points. This reduces the sensitivity of tracking movements by a factor of ten. You can also click to select the Target Adjustment tool: p0226_01.jpg (Mac) or p0226_02.jpg (PC). As with the parametric editing mode, you can use up or down movements to make the selected region of the curve lighter or darker.

Figure 4.51

Figure 4.51 The Tone Curve in Point Curve editing mode.

Unlike the Adjustment panel in Photoshop or the Point Curve mode for the Tone Curve panel in Camera Raw, Lightroom does not provide modal, keyboard focus when editing the tone curve control points, so you can’t nudge using the keyboard arrow keys. To delete a selected point, right-click to open the context menu and select Delete Control Point, or double-click a control point. You can save the entire tone curve as a preset, including the Point Curve adjustments, but not separately as a preset. However, you can save custom Point Curve settings via the Point Curve menu (see Step 3).

  1. Here, I started with a photo to which I had applied a Linear curve. I clicked the Point Curve button (circled) to switch to the Point Curve editing mode.

  2. I selected the Target Adjustment tool from the top-left corner (circled), clicked in the preview area to add new control points to the tone curve, and dragged up or down to modify the curve shape. The context menu could be used to delete selected control points or flatten the curve.

  3. You can use the Point Curve editing mode to either invert the tones in an image or apply a solarized-type look to a photo and use the Point Curve menu at the bottom to save a custom curve setting.

RGB curves

You also have the option to separately edit the red, green, and blue channel curves, just as you can in Photoshop. To do this, you need to go to the Tone Curve panel in Point Curve mode, where you will see the Channel menu (Figure 4.52). This defaults to the RGB curve editing mode. If you click to open the pop-up menu, you will see the channel curve options shown in Figure 4.53.

Figure 4.52

Figure 4.52 The Tone Curve in Point Curve editing mode in the default RGB curve mode.

Figure 4.53

Figure 4.53 The Tone Curve in Point Curve editing mode with the Green channel selected.

Having RGB curves in Lightroom gives you extra tools to work with when adjusting color, and allows you to achieve some unique color effects using just channel curve adjustments. You can use them to correct photos shot under mixed lighting conditions or to produce split-toning effects that are distinctly different from those that can be achieved using the Split Toning panel. Or, as shown here, you can use channel adjustments to apply strong color overlays. Just be aware there is a fair amount of overlap here with the functionality of the White Balance controls (which I would still advise you to use first when correcting color), as well as other controls, such as the Split Toning panel (see page 368).

  1. In this example, I prepared an image in which the colors were neutralized and I had only applied a few Basic panel adjustments.

  2. I then went to the Tone Curve panel in Point Curve editing mode and adjusted the individual red, green, and blue channels to achieve the saturated green color effect shown here.

  3. I next edited all three channels to produce a warm autumn coloring effect.

The Tone Curve regions

The Tone Curve Zones are evenly divided between the four quadrants of the tone curve. In the following step-by-step example, I show a series of Tone Curve adjustments in which each of these regions gets adjusted. Here, I have highlighted the active quadrants with a green overlay to accentuate these zone regions and show which areas of the curve are being altered. If you want to reset the Tone Curve settings, you can do so by double-clicking the slider names in the Tone Curve panel; you can also reset the Tone Curve adjustments by double-clicking the adjusted region within the tone curve itself.

  1. This photograph of a ship in the bottle lacked contrast. I began by adjusting the Highlights slider to make the brightest portion of the image lighter and set the Highlights to +66. This could be done in a number of ways: I could drag the Highlights slider in the Tone Curve panel to the right, or make the Highlights field active and use the up-arrow key to increase the value. If I wanted, I could click anywhere in the green-shaded section of the tone curve and drag the curve upward, or click this portion of the curve and use the up-arrow key on the keyboard to lighten the highlights. However, in this instance, I clicked the Target Adjustment tool button (circled) to make it active, moved the pointer over the image, and hovered over a highlight area in the clouds. I then clicked and dragged upward to lighten the tones in this selected portion of the curve.

  2. Next, I wanted to concentrate on lightening the tones within the Lights zone of the curve. I placed the pointer over a darker area of the sky and dragged upward.

  3. I then moved the pointer over one of the sails and dragged downward to darken the Darks zone.

  4. Lastly, I adjusted the Shadows by placing the pointer over the shadow area circled above and dragging downward to darken. If you compare the finished step here with where I started, you can see that the combined Tone Curve adjustments managed to increase the image contrast, but in a more controlled way compared to using the Basic panel Contrast slider on its own.

Combining Basic and Tone Curve adjustments

So far, I have shown how Tone Curve adjustments can be applied in isolation. But you would more typically work using a combination of both Basic and Tone Curve adjustments. Over the next few pages, I have provided a step-by-step example in which the Basic panel adjustments were applied first to correct the white balance and improve the overall tone contrast in the photograph. This was then followed by a Tone Curve adjustment to fine-tune the tonal balance and bring out more detail in the highlights and shadows. You can do a lot to improve the appearance of a photograph by making just a few Basic and Tone Curve adjustments. Through careful use of these adjustment controls, it is possible to edit the tones in a picture so that you will not always have to apply localized adjustments to achieve a good-looking image.

  1. Here is a raw image in which the default Lightroom Develop settings had been applied. I first corrected the As Shot white balance by selecting the White Balance tool and rolling the pointer over an area that I wanted to make neutral.

  2. I clicked with the White Balance tool to achieve a slightly cooler color with less of a magenta tint and then proceeded to add more Exposure and Contrast.

  3. Next, I adjusted the Highlights slider to bring out more detail in the clouds. Here, I applied a –100 adjustment.

  4. I then adjusted the Shadows slider to lighten the shadow detail, applying a +36 adjustment.

  5. This next step was all about fine-tuning the Basic panel settings. I adjusted the Whites slider to set the white clipping and the Blacks slider to set the black clipping. I also adjusted the Clarity and Vibrance.

  6. Finally, I went to the Tone Curve panel and adjusted the parametric sliders to further improve the tone contrast.

Tone range split point adjustments

The tone range split points are at the bottom of the Tone Curve panel. In Figure 4.54, The Tone Curve panel on the left shows an S-shaped tone curve with the tone range split points in their normal positions with equal spacing for the Shadows, Darks, Lights, and Highlights zones. The middle example shows the Shadows zone set to its widest extent, compressing the other three zones. The example on the right shows the Highlights zone set to the widest point. Figure 4.55 shows how moving the two outer tone range split points in closer, increases the midtone contrast and moving them farther apart reduces the midtone contrast.

Figure 4.54

Figure 4.54 Adjusting the split points can affect the tone curve shape.

Figure 4.55

Figure 4.55 Adjusting the split points can increase or reduce the midtone contrast.

Refining the tone curve contrast

The following example shows how the Tone Curve Zones can be adjusted to fine-tune the tone curve contrast. I find it also helps sometimes to drag the Shadows zone slider to the extreme left position and the Highlights zone slider to the extreme right to concentrate a contrast boost to add a contrast kick to the shadows and highlights and leave the midtone contrast relatively flat.

  1. Here, a contrast-increasing tone curve was applied to the image. The tone range split points were in their default positions and, as you can see, the Tone Curve Zones were evenly divided.

  2. In this step, I moved the middle and outer right sliders to the right. This compressed the width of the Lights zone and thereby increased the contrast in the Lights zone area. This revealed more tone detail in the face.

HSL / Color / B&W panel

The HSL / Color / B&W panel is an all-in-one panel for making fine-tuned color adjustments and black-and-white conversions. The HSL component (Figure 4.56) is kind of equivalent to the Hue/Saturation dialog found in Photoshop, except in Lightroom you can apply these types of adjustments to raw photos as well as rendered pixel images, such as JPEGs and TIFFs. It is a color adjustment tool to use when you need to target specific colors. The HSL panel has three color adjustment sections that allow you to control the Hue, Saturation, and Luminance over eight color-band ranges. These provide a more practical range of color hues to work with and more usefully match the colors people most often want to adjust. The Color section of this panel (Figure 4.57) provides a more simplified version of the HSL controls, with button selectors at the top for choosing the desired color band to edit, with Hue, Saturation, and Luminance sliders below. The B&W section can be used to carry out black-and-white conversions (which I discuss in the following chapter).

Figure 4.56

Figure 4.56 The HSL / Color / B&W panel with the HSL mode selected.

Figure 4.57

Figure 4.57 The HSL / Color / B&W panel with the Color mode selected.

The sliders in the Hue section control the hue color balance, and these can be used to make hue color shifts in each of the eight color-band ranges. For example, dragging the Green Hue slider to the right makes the greens more cyan, while dragging to the left makes them more yellow. The sliders in the Saturation section control the color saturation. Dragging a slider to the right increases the saturation, while dragging to the left decreases the saturation. If all the Saturation sliders were dragged to the left, you could convert the whole image to black and white. The Saturation slider controls apply a nonlinear saturation-type adjustment (similar to what the Vibrance slider does). This means that as you increase the saturation, lower saturated pixel values are increased relative to the already higher saturated pixel values in an image. The sliders in the Luminance section can be used to darken or lighten colors in the selected color ranges, and in a way that manages to preserve the hue and saturation. If you click the All button, the panel expands to let you see all the sliders at once. Also, clicking the Hue, Saturation, or Luminance tabs toggles showing just the controls for those parameters or showing All sliders.

As with the Tone Curve panel, the HSL controls can be applied using a Target Adjustment mode. Select the Hue, Saturation, or Luminance tab and click the Target Adjustment tool button to activate it. You can then click an image and drag up or down to adjust the colors targeted by the pointer. You can use the following shortcuts to enable the various HSL Target Adjustment modes: Hue, p0240_01.jpg (Mac) or p0240_02.jpg (PC); Saturation, p0240_03.jpg (Mac) or p0240_04.jpg (PC); and Luminance, p0240_05.jpg (Mac) or p0240_06.jpg (PC). You can turn off the Target Adjustment tool by clicking the Target Adjustment button again, pressing p0172_01.jpg, or using the p0226_03.jpg (Mac) or p0226_04.jpg (PC) shortcut. The Target Adjustment tool is then deactivated whenever you switch to working in a new panel.

  1. To better handle skin tones, you might consider creating a custom camera calibration profile (see “Camera profiles” on page 274). But if you shoot a mixture of subjects with the same camera profile, you can also use the HSL panel Hue section to compensate for reddish skin tone colors.

  2. In this example, I went to the Hue section and activated the Target Adjustment tool. I then clicked on a skin tone area in the picture and dragged upward to make the skin tones less red and more yellow.

Selective color darkening

At first glance, the HSL controls in Lightroom appear to work the same as those used in Photoshop’s Hue/Saturation dialog, but if you experiment a little further, you will notice some distinct differences. For example, the Lightroom Hue slider adjustments are somewhat tamer than their Photoshop cousins. The Saturation sliders respond more or less the same as they do in Photoshop, but the most marked differences are revealed when working with the Luminance controls. You may have noticed that when you adjust the Lightness slider in the Photoshop Hue/Saturation dialog, the adjusted colors tend to lose their saturation. To selectively darken a color in Photoshop, you generally have to search for a particular combination of Saturation and Lightness to achieve the desired result. However, the Lightroom sliders really do respond the way you would expect them to and provide you with complete control over the luminance of any color range, as shown in the following steps.

  1. The challenge here was to simulate the effect of a polarizing lens filter and darken the blue sky without affecting the tonal balance of the other colors.

  2. To darken the blue sky colors in Lightroom, I enabled the Target Adjustment mode in the Luminance section of the HSL panel, clicked an area of blue sky, and dragged downward. As you can see, this mainly reduced the Blue slider luminance and successfully added more contrast between the sky and the white windmill.

When darkening a blue sky, as in the example shown here, you sometimes end up seeing banding or mottling in the blue sky areas. One solution is to go to the Detail panel and increase the Color and Smoothness settings in the Noise Reduction section.

False color hue adjustments

There is still some room to go crazy and do things like turn blue skies purple, but the Hue adjustments in Lightroom are definitely more constrained. To create more extreme hue shifts, you will want to shift more than one Hue slider at a time. For example, you could create a series of Develop settings in which all the Hue sliders are shifted by equal amounts. To give you an example, I created a series of hue-shifted Develop preset settings. In one setting, all the Hue sliders are shifted +30; in another, they are shifted to +60; and so on. I suggest this as one way to create creative hue-shift coloring effects (Figure 4.58).

Figure 4.58

Figure 4.58 This shows a before and after example of an even –90 Hue color shift applied across all the hue values.

Using the HSL controls to reduce gamut clipping

The camera you are shooting with is almost certainly capable of capturing a greater range of colors than can be shown on your computer display or in print. But just because you cannot see these colors does not mean they are not there.

The following steps show a photograph taken of a rock formation in Arches National Park in Utah. This was shot at sunset when the rocks appeared at their reddest. At first glance, there did not appear to be much detail in the rocks, but this was only because the computer display was unable to show all the color information that was actually contained in the image. By using the HSL panel Luminance controls to darken the red and orange colors, I was able to bring these colors more into the gamut of the computer display so that they no longer appear clipped.

If you are using a standard LCD display, there is a good chance the more saturated colors will appear clipped, which can make it hard to predict how some colors will appear in print if you can’t actually see them. If the display you are using has a wide color gamut, it should be a better indicator as to which colors will and will not print. This is especially true when using soft proofing to visualize what the final print should look like (see Chapter 8). The display I work with has a gamut that matches 98% of the Adobe RGB color space, and this certainly helps when making evaluative adjustments such as in the example shown here. Even so, I find with certain color images I need to constrain the color saturation and luminance to achieve more printable result.

  1. Shot late in the day as the sun was setting, this photograph captured a lovely warm glow on the red rocks. Shown here are the Basic panel settings I used.

  2. From the HSL panel, I selected the Luminance tab and adjusted the Red and Orange sliders to darken the luminance of the red rocks.

Lens Corrections panel Profile mode

The Lens Corrections panel can be used to cure various kinds of lens problems and has two sections: Profile and Manual (Figure 4.59). I will start by looking at the Profile controls.

Figure 4.59

Figure 4.59 The Lens Corrections panel with the Profile section selected.

Lens profile corrections

Checking the Enable Profile Corrections box applies an auto lens profile correction adjustment. This can be done for any image, providing it contains the lens information in the EXIF data and there is a matching lens profile in the Lightroom lens profile database. Also, some lens corrections profiles now also take into account when a teleconverter is combined with a lens. Images that are missing their EXIF metadata cannot be processed using the Enable Profile Corrections feature. However, by saving Lens Profile Corrections settings as Develop presets, it is possible to apply such adjustments where the EXIF metadata is missing.

If the lens you are using is not included in the camera lens profile database, you can use a custom lens profile. (I will cover custom lens profiles shortly.) Assuming Lightroom offers lens profiles for the lenses you are shooting with, it is a simple matter of clicking the Enable Profile Corrections box to apply an auto lens correction to any selected photo. When you do this, you should see in the boxes below the make of the lens manufacturer, the specific lens model, and the lens profile (which will most likely be the installed Adobe profile). If these appear empty, then you may need to first select the lens manufacturer from the Make menu, the lens model from the Model menu, and the preferred lens profile from the Profile menu. It is important to appreciate that some camera systems capture a full-frame image (therefore making full use of the usable lens coverage area for many lenses), whereas compact SLR range cameras tend to have smaller sensors that capture the image using a smaller portion of the lens’s total coverage area. The Adobe lens profiles have mostly been built using cameras that have full-frame sensors. This means that from a single lens profile it is possible to automatically calculate the appropriate lens correction adjustments to make for all other types of cameras where the sensor size is smaller. Lightroom and Camera Raw should use lens profiles generated from raw capture files. This is because the vignette estimation and removal has to be measured directly from the raw linear sensor data rather than from a gamma-corrected JPEG or TIFF image.

Lens profile corrections consist of two components: a Distortion correction to correct for the barrel or pincushion geometric distortion, along with a Vignetting correction. The Amount sliders allow you to fine-tune a profiled lens correction. So, for example, if you wanted to allow an automatic lens correction to automatically correct for the lens vignetting, but not correct for, say, a fisheye lens distortion, you could set the Distortion slider to 0 (dragging it all the way to the left). On the other hand, if you believe an auto lens correction to be too strong or not strong enough, you can easily apply a compensation to the correction amount by dragging either of these sliders left or right.

The default option for the Setup menu is Default. This instructs Lightroom to automatically work out what is the correct lens profile to use based on the available EXIF metadata contained in the image file, or use whatever might be assigned as a default Lens Correction with this particular lens. The Custom option appears only if you choose to override the auto-selected default setting, or you have to manually apply the appropriate lens profile. As you work with the automatic lens corrections feature on specific images, you also have the option to customize the Lens Corrections settings and use the Setup menu to select the Save New Defaults option. This lets you set new Lens Corrections settings as the default to use when an image with identical camera EXIF lens data settings is selected (such as when you adjust the Distortion and Vignetting sliders to under- or overcompensate for a lens profile correction). The Setup menu will, in these instances, show Default as the selected option in the Setup menu.

Accessing and creating custom camera lens profiles

If you do not see any lens profiles listed for a particular lens, you have two choices: You can either locate a custom profile that someone else has made or make one yourself using the Adobe Lens Profile Creator program, which is available for free from labs.adobe.com. The Adobe Lens Profile Creator page provides full documentation that explains how to go about photographing an Adobe Lens Calibration chart and build custom lens profiles for your own lenses. This is not too difficult to do once you have mastered the basic principles.

Incidentally, the Photoshop Lens Correction filter includes an Auto Correction tab where one of the submenus allows you to access shared custom lens profiles that have been created by other Photoshop customers (using the Adobe Lens Profile Creator program). Unfortunately, the Lens Corrections panel in Lightroom does not provide a shared-user lens profile option, so whether you are creating lens profiles for yourself or wish to install a custom lens profile, you will need to reference the directory path lists shown in the Note opposite. After you add a new lens profile to the Lens Profiles folder, you need to quit Lightroom and restart before a newly added lens profile appears listed in the Lens Corrections panel Lens Profile list.

Profile lens corrections in use

The following steps show I was able to use a lens profile correction to correct the geometric distortion in a fisheye-lens photograph.

  1. Shot using a 15mm fisheye lens, this photograph has a noticeable curvature in the image.

  2. In the Lens Corrections panel, I checked the Enable Profile Corrections box to apply an auto lens correction to the photograph. Here, I left the Distortion and Vignetting sliders at their default 100 settings.

  3. Next, I went to the Transform panel and applied a Vertical Upright correction. In the Transform section below, I adjusted the Vertical slider to partially restore some of the keystone distortion. I adjusted the Aspect Ratio slider to stretch the image vertically and adjusted the Scale slider to zoom out slightly and reveal more of the image content.

  4. Finally, I opened the photo in Photoshop and used the Content-Aware Fill feature to fill in the white space at the bottom. (There is a video on the book website that shows how this was done.)

In-camera lens corrections

Some digital cameras, such as the Panasonic DMC-LX3 and Sony RX100, are capable of storing lens-corrected linear raw data that can be read and used to optically correct for things like geometric distortion. Lightroom is able to read this data and use what are referred to in the DNG specification as “opcodes.” These allow the lens correction processing to be applied at the raw processing stage rather than in-camera. In fact, the camera manufacturers have not been willing to allow Adobe to provide Camera Raw support for their cameras unless Adobe respects this data and applies the lens corrections in Camera Raw. In instances where a built-in profile has already been applied, the Lens Corrections panel now indicates this with an alert message stating that a built-in lens profile has already been applied automatically. Clicking the “i” button opens a dialog with a more detailed description of the lens profile correction that has been applied (Figure 4.60).

Figure 4.60

Figure 4.60 If lens corrections have already been embedded “in-camera,” you will see the “Built-in Lens Profile applied” message.

Removing chromatic aberration

Chromatic aberration is caused by an inability to focus the red, green, and blue light wavelengths at the same position toward the edges of the frame, which is more correctly known as lateral or latitudinal chromatic aberration. The sensors in the latest digital SLRs and medium-format camera backs are able to resolve a much finer level of detail than was possible with film. As a consequence, any deficiencies in the lens optics can be made even more apparent. Therefore, where some color wavelengths are focused at different points, you may see color fringes around the high-contrast edges of a picture. This can be particularly noticeable when shooting with wide-angle lenses (especially when they are being used at wider apertures), and here you may well see signs of color fringing toward the edges of the frame. This is easy enough to fix by checking the Remove Chromatic Aberration option in the Profile tab section of the Lens Corrections panel (Figure 4.61). When checked, Lightroom carries out an automatic chromatic aberration correction regardless of whether you have a lens profile correction enabled or whether a suitable lens profile is available or not. This option can also automatically correct for chromatic aberrations when using decentered lenses, such as tilt/shift lenses.

Figure 4.61

Figure 4.61 You can enable Remove Chromatic Aberration via the Profile tab.

The following steps show how the Remove Chromatic Aberration option can help improve the appearance of an image that has obvious signs of color fringing.

  1. Here is a typical example of color fringing caused by lateral chromatic aberration toward the edges of the frame of a wide-angle zoom lens. This is the uncorrected version with the Remove Chromatic Aberration box unchecked.

  2. I checked the Remove Chromatic Aberration option in the Lens Corrections panel Profile tab section to remove the color fringing completely.

Lens Corrections panel Manual mode

Sometimes an image needs a little more fine-tuning than the automatic corrections can provide. That’s where Manual mode comes in handy.

Defringe adjustments

The Defringe controls are designed to fix axial (longitudinal) chromatic aberration. This can be caused due to ghosting, lens flare, charge leakage (which affects some CCD sensors), as well as changes in focus.

Unlike lateral chromatic aberration, which occurs toward the edges of the frame, this type of aberration can appear anywhere in an image. It particularly affects fast, wide-aperture lenses and is typically most noticeable when shooting at the widest lens apertures, where fringes will usually be at their most visible just in front of and just behind the plane of focus. These will typically appear purple/magenta when they are in front of the plane of focus and appear green when they are behind the plane of focus. But even at the exact point of focus, you may sometimes see purple fringes (especially along high-contrast or backlit edges), which can be caused by flare. As you stop down the lens aperture, these types of aberrations are usually less noticeable.

The Defringe section consists of four sliders (Figure 4.62). The Purple Amount and Green Amount sliders control the degree of correction, and below each of these are the Purple Hue and Green Hue sliders, which have split slider controls.

Figure 4.62

Figure 4.62 The Lens Corrections panel showing the Defringe sliders in the Manual tab section.

Looking at the two Purple sliders, the Amount slider has a range of 0 to 20 and is used to determine the strength of the purple fringing removal. The Purple Hue slider can then be used to fine-tune the range of purple colors that are to be affected. What you need to be aware of here is that a higher Purple Amount setting applies a stronger correction, but the downside is that at higher settings this may cause purple colors in the image that are not the result of fringing to also become affected by the Purple Amount adjustment. To moderate this undesired effect, you can tweak the Purple Hue slider split points to narrow or realign the purple range of colors to be targeted. You can drag either of the knobs one at a time, or you can drag the central bar to align the Hue selection to a different portion of the purple color spectrum. If you need to reset these sliders, just double-click each individual knob. Likewise, double-click the central bar to reset it to its default position. The minimum distance that may be set between the two sliders is 10 units.

The Green Amount and Green Hue sliders work in exactly the same fashion as the Purple sliders, except they allow you to control the green fringes. However, the default range for the Green Hue slider has a narrower range of 40 to 60 (instead of 30 to 70 for Purple). The reason for this is to help protect common green and yellow colors such as those found in foliage.

The Defringe controls in use

The recommended approach is to carry out all your major tone and color edits first and make sure that you have turned on the profile-based lens corrections to correct for geometric distortion and vignetting. Once these steps have been taken, go to the Profile tab of the Lens Corrections panel and check the Remove Chromatic Aberration check box. Then go to the Manual tab and use the Defringe sliders to remove any remaining signs of fringing. As with the Detail panel controls, the Lens Correction Defringe controls are best used when viewing an image at a 100% view or higher. If a global adjustment is having an adverse effect on the rest of the image, you can always turn down the Purple/Green Amount sliders and use a localized adjustment with the Defringe slider set to a positive value to apply a stronger, localized adjustment.

You can also use the p0012_04.jpg key as a visualization aid. This can greatly help you see an emphasized overlay that gives a clearer indication of what effect the sliders are having and making the most suitable slider adjustments. Hold the p0012_04.jpg key and drag the Purple Amount slider to visualize purple fringe removal. This will cause the preview to reveal only the affected areas of the image. All other areas will be shown as white. This lets you concentrate on the affected areas and help verify that the purple fringe color is being removed. Hold the p0012_04.jpg key and drag either of the Purple Hue slider knobs to visualize the range of hues that are to be defringed. As you do this, the preview will show the affected hue range as being blacked out. As you drag a slider, you need to pay close attention to the borders of the blacked-out area to check if there are any residual purple colors showing. The same principles apply when adjusting the Green Amount and Green Hue sliders with the p0012_04.jpg key held down.

Eyedropper tool

When working with the Defringe sliders you can activate the Eyedropper tool and use this to select a target fringe color, analyze the pixels in the local area around where you clicked, and auto-calculate the required fringe amount and hue adjustment for the purple and/or green color fringes. To use this tool, it helps to be zoomed in extra close, such as at a 200% or even a 400% view, as this will make the color picking more accurate. If the Eyedropper tool detects a purple fringe color as you move it over the image, the Eyedropper will appear filled with a purple color, indicating this is an okay area to click to sample a representative purple fringe color. Likewise, if the Eyedropper tool detects a green fringe color, you will see a green Eyedropper (Figure 4.63). However, if the area below the tool is too neutral, or the color falls outside the supported color range, the Eyedropper tool will be filled gray. If you click, an error message will appear saying, “Cannot set the purple or green fringe color. Please sample a representative fringe color again.”

Applying a global Defringe adjustment

Figure 4.63

Figure 4.63 As you roll the Eyedropper over the image, the tool indicates whether the selected area is too neutral (left), contains purple fringe colors (center), or contains green fringe colors (right).

  1. The first step was to apply all the main color and tone adjustments and enable the lens profile corrections in the Lens Corrections Profile tab section.

  2. I clicked the Manual tab to view the Defringe controls. I then held down the p0012_04.jpg key and clicked and held on the Purple Amount slider to get a visualization of the extent of the purple fringed area, with everything else displayed with a white overlay.

  3. With the p0012_04.jpg key held down, I dragged the Purple Amount slider until all of the purple fringing appeared to have been removed. (It helps to use a 200% close-up view or higher when judging the effectiveness of such an adjustment.)

  4. I reset the Purple Amount slider and decided instead to carry out an auto-calculated adjustment. I selected the Eyedropper and rolled the tool over the image to locate a magnified view of the purple fringe pixels.

  5. Here, you can see what the image looked like after I had clicked the purple fringe area that I had located using the Eyedropper. This auto-calculated the required adjustment and set the Purple Amount and Purple Hue sliders accordingly.

  6. Lastly, I used the p0012_04.jpg key to locate the green areas and used the Eyedropper to select a green fringe area to auto-calculate the settings for the Green Amount and Green Hue sliders.

Applying a localized Defringe adjustment

The global Defringe controls should be all that you need in order to remove troublesome fringing. However, there may be instances where it will not be possible to remove all visible fringing using the global Defringe sliders on their own. Or, it may be the case that when applying a strong global correction, the adjustment you apply has an adverse effect on other areas. In situations like this, it can be useful to apply a global adjustment combined with a localized defringe correction using either the Adjustment Brush or the Graduated Filter. With some images, a localized defringe adjustment might be all you need to apply. It is worth pointing out here that localized Defringe adjustments will remove fringes for all colors (not just purple and green), and therefore work independently from the global Purple Hue and Green Hue settings set in the Lens Corrections panel.

To apply a localized a Defringe adjustment, the image you are processing must be updated to Version 3 or 4. The Defringe slider range goes from −100 to +100. A positive Defringe adjustment can be used to apply extra defringing where required, such as when working on specific problem areas in a picture. A negative Defringe adjustment can be used to say “don’t apply a defringe and protect this area.” When might you want to use this? Imagine a picture in which, say, a strong purple defringe was applied globally and resulted in the edges of the purple areas becoming desaturated. In a situation like this, you can paint over the affected areas with the Defringe slider set to −100, which will allow you to restore the original color to these areas.

Localized defringe adjustments are not as powerful as the global defringe corrections and therefore cannot be as effective on their own when correcting an image. This is why it is often best to use the global controls first and then use a localized adjustment to fine-tune as necessary. Just be aware that, unlike other localized adjustments, there is no benefit to be gained in applying multiple localized defringe adjustments to improve upon what can be achieved with a single localized adjustment step. The steps on the following page show an example of a localized Defringe adjustment.

Vignetting sliders

The Vignetting sliders at the bottom of the Lens Correction panel provide manual controls to correct for lens vignetting. These can be regarded as legacy sliders that have been present in Lightroom since before the introduction of profiled lens corrections. These sliders provide backward compatibility for images that were edited in older versions of Lightroom. They are not really so necessary now, although having said that, you can use them in conjunction with the Effects panel Post-Crop Vignetting sliders to apply vignetting effects. This is discussed in a later section of this chapter.

  1. As you can see in this close-up, this image has some obvious signs of color fringing.

  2. Here, I selected the Adjustment Brush, set the Defringe slider to +100, and painted over the affected areas to reduce the color fringing. I was able to get rid of nearly all the visible fringing and target the Defringe adjustment precisely where it was needed most.

Transform panel

The Transform panel (Figure 4.64) can be used to apply Upright (automated perspective corrections) and manual transform adjustments. These provide you with control over the perspective and scaling of an image. However, if you want to flip a photograph you’ll need to choose Photo ➯ Flip Horizontal or Flip Vertical.

Figure 4.64

Figure 4.64 The Transform panel.

Upright adjustments

When applying an Upright adjustment, Lightroom first analyzes the image for straight-line edges and, from this, is able to estimate a perspective transform adjustment. To get the best results, it is recommended you apply a lens profile correction first. Several Upright options are offered here, because no single type of adjustment will work perfectly for every image, so it is always worth checking out each option to see which adjustment works best for an individual photo. To help, each button has a tooltip that explains its function.

Clicking the Auto button applies a balanced correction to the image, that is it applies a balanced combination of the options listed below plus an Aspect Ratio correction. Essentially, Auto aims to level the image and, at the same time, fix converging vertical and horizontal lines in an image. The ultimate goal is to apply a suitable transform adjustment that avoids applying too strong a perspective correction. The Auto setting mostly crops the image to hide the outside areas. However, if the auto adjustment ends up being quite strong, some outside areas may remain visible. With the Guided option, you manually add guides to correct the horizontal and vertical lines. The Level correction applies a leveling adjustment only—this is like an auto-straighten tool. The Vertical perspective correction applies a level and a converging vertical lines adjustment. And lastly, the Full correction applies a full level and a converging vertical and horizontal perspective adjustment, and in doing so will allow strong perspective corrections to occur. To cycle through the Upright modes, use p0259_01.jpg (this shortcut is the same for both Mac and PC).

The Off setting can be used to turn off an Upright correction, while preserving the initial, precomputed analysis of the image. As you click any of the above options (except Off), this automatically resets the Horizontal, Vertical, and Rotate sliders. Upright adjustments preserve any crop that is active, but will reset a crop rotate angle. If an Upright adjustment is unable to do anything, you’ll see a message at the bottom of the panel saying “No Upright correction found” and the manual transform sliders will remain as they are.

How Upright adjustments work

It is important to understand that the underlying math behind Upright adjustments is doing more than auto-applying Vertical, Horizontal, and Rotate adjustments. Upright adjustments work quite differently than the manual sliders in the Transform section. The vertical and horizontal adjustments involved in the Upright process are actually quite sophisticated. Behind the scenes, there are angle of view and center of projection adjustments taking place. This all has to do with the fact that the interaction of one rotation movement can have an impact on another, and such interactions can be quite complex. For example, think about what happens when you adjust the tilt and yaw on a camera tripod head, and you may get some idea of the problem.

Having the choice of four auto Upright methods means at least one of these should work well and, failing that, there is the manually controlled Guided Upright option. What tends to happen, though, is the perspective can often end up looking too perfect. When correcting the perspective for a building to remove a keystone effect, it is generally a good idea to go to the Manual tab afterward and adjust the Vertical slide, adding something like a +10 adjustment so the corrected verticals still converge slightly. You might even consider creating a preset that combines, say, an Auto Upright correction with a Vertical slider tweak. You may also find it helpful here to enable the Grid overlay via the View Loupe Overlay menu (see page 104).

Lightroom supports and preserves image transparency when reading TIFF, PNG, and DNG files. In Lightroom, you will notice how transparent areas (which can appear when applying a Geometric correction, Upright correction, or Manual transform) are represented in Lightroom as white. It is inevitable that extreme adjustments may cause the image to distort so much that you will end up seeing transparent areas. Where this happens, you can check the “Constrain to crop” box to apply an auto-crop adjustment that trims the image accordingly. Or, you can always apply a manual crop to the image afterwards to set the crop boundary. When exporting images as TIFF or PSD to Photoshop, the transparency will be preserved and appear represented with the usual checkerboard pattern. When exporting as JPEG, the transparent areas are represented as white.

Suggested order for Upright adjustments

You’ll want to apply an Upright adjustment early on in the image processing, because unlike most other image edits carried out in the Develop module, the order matters. In particular, you will want to ensure you apply an Upright adjustment before you apply a rotate crop or manual transform adjustment. As for lens profile corrections, it is best to apply these before an Upright adjustment, as a geometrically corrected image can help the line detection work better.

Synchronizing Upright settings

When synchronizing Upright settings, you have to think carefully about what you wish to achieve, as this will have a bearing on the options you select in the Copy/Synchronize Settings dialog (see page 337). If Transform panel adjustments have been applied to an image and you wish to synchronize the Transform panel settings with other images, you can choose to synchronize the Upright Mode, Upright Transforms, or Transform Adjustments. Upright mode simply synchronizes the Upright method, i.e., Auto, Level, Vertical, or Full (note that you can’t sync a Guided Upright adjustment using the Upright Mode option). This will result in Lightroom synchronizing the Upright mode method, but analyze each image individually as it does so. It may well produce a different outcome on other images, especially if you happen to sync the Auto Upright mode. The Upright Transforms option synchronizes the Upright transform adjustment precisely. For example, if you were to prepare a group of bracketed exposure images to create an HDR master, you would want to use this method to synchronize the Upright settings. The Transform Adjustments option syncs just the manual slider settings in the Transform panel.

How to apply an Upright adjustment

  1. I began by checking the Remove Chromatic Aberrations and Enable Profile Corrections boxes in the Lens Corrections panel.

  2. In the Transform panel, I clicked the Auto Upright button to apply an auto-correction. This applied an auto-perspective adjustment that combined a leveling and a horizontal and vertical perspective correction and, as you can see, transformed the image in such a way the bottom edge of the image was shortened and revealed white padded areas on either side.

  3. I then selected the Full option. This applied a strong perspective correction, similar to the Auto adjustment, which also revealed white padded areas.

  4. I then selected the Level correction. This correction simply applied an auto-level adjustment and did not attempt to fix the keystone perspective.

  5. Lastly, I selected the Vertical correction. This leveled the image and corrected the keystone effect. Now, with every image you will see different kinds of outcomes when running through these options. Although the Auto, Full, Level, and Vertical corrections looked fairly similar, they were, in fact, subtly different. Of the four methods, I liked Auto best.

  6. In the Transform section, I adjusted the Vertical slider, setting it to +10, which made the vertical lines converge slightly and produced a more natural-looking perspective. The image was a little squashed horizontally, so I also adjusted the Aspect slider to −30 to widen the aspect ratio.

  7. Finally, I checked the Constrain Crop box to apply an auto crop that removed the white padded areas and trimmed the image accordingly.

Guided Upright adjustments

When you click the Guided Upright option or click to select the Guided Upright tool (p0265_01.jpg), you can use the Guided Upright tool (Figure 4.65) to add up to four guide lines to define vertical and horizontal lines in an image. It is best to apply a lens profile correction first before you do this, and you will need to first apply a minimum of two guide lines. For example, you can start by adding two guide lines to define the verticals in a photograph followed by one or two more horizontal guides to define the horizontals. Any error and instruction messages will appear at the bottom of the panel. Enabling the Show Loupe option in the Toolbar will reveal a magnifying loupe, which can assist when defining the guide lines.

Figure 4.65

Figure 4.65 The Transform panel with the Guided Upright tool selected.

In practice, I think you will find it still easiest to begin by selecting one of the regular Upright button options to see which works best. If you can’t find an optimum result, it is then worth selecting the Guided Upright option so you have complete control and can achieve the desired perspective correction. Another thing about working with the Guided Upright mode is that you don’t have to use it just with architectural subjects. It can work on any image and be used as a tool to transform the shape of the image beyond what can be achieved using the Vertical and Horizontal Transform sliders. You don’t have to align to straight lines either. You can deliberately offset the lines at an angle to get the image to transform to any angle you like.

  1. In Transform panel, I selected the Guided Upright option, then applied a horizontal guide line to the top of the sign. Nothing will happen yet until a second horizontal guide line is added.

  2. I added a second horizontal guide at the bottom of the sign, which then caused the horizontal lines to straighten.

  3. After straightening the horizontals, I added a guide line to the left edge to straighten it.

  4. I then added a fourth guide line to the right edge. This final version has the Grid Overlay visible in the Toolbar.

The Transform sliders

The Transform sliders in the Transform panel can be used to apply manual transform adjustments (Figure 4.66). With the Vertical slider, you apply a keystone correction to the converging verticals in a photograph, such as those produced when pointing the camera upward to photograph a tall building. The Horizontal slider similarly corrects for horizontal shifts in perspective, which occur when a photo was captured from a viewpoint other than completely “front on” to a subject. The Rotate slider lets you adjust the rotation of the transform adjustment. Although it is possible to use the Rotate slider to straighten a photo, you can also use a Level Upright adjustment or the Straighten tool in Crop Overlay mode to achieve the same kind of result. The Aspect slider is useful for tweaking the results from an Upright adjustment. When correcting the perspective, the resulting image may look vertically or horizontally stretched. Using the Aspect slider, you can control how much the image is stretched vertically and horizontally so the image view looks more natural. The Scale slider lets you adjust the image scale. As you reduce the Scale amount, the outer image area will appear as an undefined white padded area (see the previous step examples). Lightroom does not provide any options for filling in this border (as you have with the Lens Corrections filter in Photoshop), but there are still ways you can do this in Photoshop when retouching a rendered pixel image that has been exported from Lightroom. Lastly, the X and Y Offset sliders can be used to center the image vertically or horizontally. This can be particularly helpful after applying a strong transform adjustment, such as when applying a Guided Upright adjustment.

Figure 4.66

Figure 4.66 The Transform panel showing the Transform sliders.

Effects panel

Whether you need to apply a vignette as a finishing touch to your image, add a bit of grain, or compensate for atmospheric haze, the Effects panel can help. The following sections demonstrate how to accomplish each of these tasks and more.

Post-Crop vignettes

The Post-Crop Vignetting controls in the Effects panel can do more or less the same thing as the Lens Corrections panel’s Vignetting sliders, except these adjustments are applied relative to the proportions of the cropped photograph. However, whenever you use the Crop Overlay mode to edit a crop setting, you will notice the vignette effect is temporarily disabled. The Amount and Midpoint sliders work the same as those found in the Lens Corrections panel Manual tab Vignetting section, while the Roundness slider lets you adjust the shape of the vignette relative to the proportions of the image. In Figure 4.67, you can see that at 0 Roundness, the vignette shape matches the proportions of the cropped image. At +100, the Roundness slider makes the post-crop vignette more circular. With the Feather slider set to 0, this applies a harsh edge to the vignette edge. Meanwhile, the Feather slider allows you to soften or harden the vignette edge. For example, in Figure 4.67, I applied a 0 Feather amount, and this applied a hard edge to the vignette.

Figure 4.67

Figure 4.67 The Effects panel Post-Crop Vignetting controls.

The Effects panel has other Post-Crop Vignetting Style options. In Figure 4.68, you can see I applied four different Post-Crop Vignetting settings to the same photograph. Also, the ability to apply both an Effects panel Post-Crop vignette and a Lens Corrections panel vignetting effect means that you can experiment using different combinations of these two settings when editing a cropped photograph. For example, in the bottom-right image in Figure 4.68, I combined a maximum +100 Lens Corrections panel Vignetting Amount correction with a maximum +100 Post-Crop Vignetting Amount correction in Paint Overlay mode.

Figure 4.68

Figure 4.68 Examples of how different Post-Crop Vignetting settings affect the same image.

Post-Crop vignette options

I have so far shown just the Paint Overlay effect in use, which was once the only post-crop vignette mode available in Lightroom. The Paint Overlay effect blends either a black or white color into the edges of the frame, depending on which direction you drag the Amount slider. When it was first introduced, some people were quick to point out that this post-crop vignetting was not exactly the same as a Lens Corrections panel vignette effect. You can see for yourself how a Paint Overlay vignette applies a soft-contrast, hazy kind of look. This was not to everyone’s taste, though (although sometimes I quite like the look it creates). The two additional post-crop editing modes apply vignetting effects that are close in appearance to lens vignetting corrections applied via the Lens Corrections panel, where the darkening or lightening is produced by varying the exposure at the edges. There is also added scope to refine a vignetting effect whether you are using it to darken or lighten.

In Figure 4.69, I initially applied a lens profile correction adjustment to correct for the lens vignetting and cropped the bottom of the photograph. I then applied the Paint Overlay Post-Crop Vignetting settings shown. As you can see, this applied a hazy, darkening effect to the edges of the photo.

Figure 4.69

Figure 4.69 An example of a darkening effect using the Paint Overlay Post-Crop Vignetting settings.

In Figure 4.70, I used a positive Amount setting to lighten the corners of the photo. I applied Color Priority mode to the image on the left and Highlight Priority mode to the image on the right. Of the two, the Color Priority effect is the more gentle, because it applies the post-crop vignette after the Basic panel Exposure adjustments but before the tone adjustment stage. This minimizes color shifts in the darkened areas, but it is unable to perform any highlight recovery in areas that might be burnt out. Highlight Priority mode, on the other hand, tends to produce more dramatic results. It applies the post-crop vignette prior to the Exposure adjustment and has the benefit of allowing better highlight recovery, but this can sometimes lead to color shifts in the darkened areas.

Figure 4.70

Figure 4.70 Two examples of a maximum lightening post-crop vignette adjustment using Color Priority mode (left) and Highlight Priority mode (right).

Figures 4.71 and 4.72 show examples of the Highlight Priority and Color Priority modes applying darkening vignettes. The Highlights slider can further modify this effect, but it is only active when applying a negative Amount setting. As soon as you apply a lightening vignette, the Highlights slider is disabled. Increasing the Highlights setting lets you boost the contrast in the vignetted areas. The effect is really only noticeable in subjects that feature bright highlights, lightening them to take them more back to their original exposure value. Overall, I find the Highlights slider has the greatest impact when editing a post-crop vignette in Color Priority mode.

Figure 4.71

Figure 4.71 A –30 Highlight Priority vignette with the Highlights slider set to 0 (left) and 100 (right).

Figure 4.72

Figure 4.72 A –50 Color Priority vignette with the Highlights slider set to 0 (left) and 100 (right).

Adding Grain

The Effects panel contains Grain sliders, which can be used to give your photos a traditional film-like look (Figure 4.73). The Amount slider determines the strength of the grain effect, causing the image to significantly soften when set beyond 25. The Size slider can be used to set the size of the grain pattern and the Roughness slider used to control the smoothness of the grain texture.

Figure 4.73

Figure 4.73 The Effects panel showing the Grain sliders.

You may need to apply quite strong settings if you want a grain effect to be noticeable in print. It has to be said, photographers often have false expectations when it comes to what they see on the screen being an accurate representation of what they will see in print. It is certainly possible to fret needlessly about what you see on screen at a 1:1 or a 200% view when the micro detail you are analyzing will be lost during the print process. The thing is, if you add a grain effect to a typical digital camera capture image and then make an 8" x 10" print, the effect will mostly be lost due to the downsizing of the image data. Similarly, if such images are downsized to appear on the web, I doubt you will notice the grain effect at all. If you have a photo that suffers from noticeable image artifacts, you can use the Grain sliders to add small amounts of grain to help hide these so that a final print can withstand close scrutiny. As my late friend and colleague Bruce Fraser used to say, “In the case of photographers, the optimum viewing distance is limited only by the length of the photographer’s nose.” It can also be useful to add small amounts of grain when treating heavily noise-reduced images.

Dehaze adjustments

The Dehaze slider in the Effects panel (Figure 4.74) can be used to compensate for atmospheric haze in photographs, as well as mist, fog, or anything that contributes to the softening of contrast and detail in a scene. For example, you can use the Dehaze slider to improve the contrast in photographs taken of a starry night sky and reduce the effects of light pollution. Drag the slider to the right to apply a positive value and remove haze from a scene; drag the slider to the left to add haze and make an image look more foggy. Basically, the results you get are in some ways similar to adjustments made using the Clarity slider, but a Dehaze effect is overall a lot stronger than can be achieved using the Clarity slider on its own.

Figure 4.74

Figure 4.74 The Effects panel showing the Dehaze slider.

There are a few things to watch out for, though, when working with Dehaze. First, it is recommended you set the white balance first. When you apply a Dehaze adjustment to remove haze this can emphasize the lens vignetting in an image. It is therefore best to make sure you apply a lens profile correction (or a manual vignetting correction) first in order to remove the lens vignetting before you apply a Dehaze slider adjustment. Similarly, a positive Dehaze adjustment will emphasize any sensor spots (although this can easily be dealt with using the Spot Removal tool).

Dehaze as a localized adjustment

Dehaze can be applied as a localized adjustment using the Graduated Filter, Radial Filter, or Adjustment Brush. This makes the effect more useful for treating landscape images where, very often, the foreground at the bottom of the frame will look fine and it is only the subject matter in the distance from the middle to the top of the frame that needs correcting. You don’t really want a Dehaze adjustment to be applied to areas that don’t need it, so it is great you can apply Dehaze using the localized adjustment tools.

  1. This landscape photograph was also shot using a long focal-length lens, then I applied the Basic panel adjustments shown here to optimize the tone contrast.

  2. I selected the Graduated Filter tool and applied the adjustment settings shown here to the top half of the photograph in order to darken the sky slightly and bring out more detail in the distant hills and clouds. Notice how I also needed to reduce the Saturation to counter the saturation boost that resulted from the +40 Dehaze adjustment.

Camera Calibration panel

The Camera Calibration panel (Figure 4.75) can be used to select the most appropriate camera profile to use as a starting point for subsequent Develop module adjustments. To start with, the Process menu allows you to choose which Process Version to apply to an image. Below that is a Profile menu where you can choose a suitable camera profile to use as a starting point for subsequent Develop module adjustments.

Figure 4.75

Figure 4.75 The Camera Calibration panel controls showing the Process options (top) and Camera Profile options (bottom).

Camera profiles

Lightroom ships with calibrated camera profiles for most of the cameras that are supported by the Camera Raw database. These are mainly for Canon, Nikon, Sony, Olympus, and Pentax models. The Lightroom camera profiles are the result of many years of painstaking work. For each camera that is supported by Camera Raw, two sets of profile measurements are used to record the camera sensor’s color response under controlled daylight-balanced and tungsten-balanced lighting conditions. Using this data, it is possible to extrapolate what the color response should be for all white balance lighting conditions that fall between these two setups and beyond. More than 500 different cameras are supported by Adobe Camera Raw and Lightroom, and in some instances, several camera samples have been tested to obtain a representative average set of measurements. Other times, only one camera model was actually used. But in all cases, it is clear that the measurements made by the Camera Raw team can only ever be as good as the camera or cameras from which the measurements were made (and how representative these were of other cameras of the same make). At the same time, the sensors in some cameras can vary a lot in color response from camera to camera, and this variance means that although a raw file from your camera may be supported by Lightroom, there is no guarantee it will have exactly the same color response as the cameras the Adobe team evaluated. The Adobe Standard profile (shown selected in Figure 4.75) is the recommended default, as it will be more color accurate than all the older Adobe profiles, such as the ACR 2.4 and ACR 4.4 profiles. These remain accessible simply for legacy compatibility reasons. Alternatively, you can use the Adobe DNG Profile Editor program to create your own custom camera calibrated profiles (see the PDF on the book’s website).

All the other profiles are designed to match built-in camera look settings. For example, one of the things that’s irritated some Lightroom users is the way the initial raw file previews change appearance as soon as the previews are updated in the program (to the Adobe Standard profile). This is because the embedded preview for a raw file is based on a standard camera JPEG-processed image. In other words, the previews that appear when you first import raw photos from a card show a color rendering determined by the camera JPEG settings. A lot of photographers were inclined to think, “Hey, I like the way those photos are looking,” only to find that Lightroom would proceed to redraw the previews using the Adobe Standard profile. If you happen to like the JPEG look and would prefer that Lightroom keep the colors the same on import, you can do so by selecting the Camera Standard profile from the Profile list that’s shown in Figure 4.75. This will allow you to match near enough the default camera JPEG look. All the other profiles you see listed here are designed to match the color response for other specific camera JPEG looks that may be associated with a particular camera. With Nikon cameras, the alternative profile options might include Mode 1, Mode 2, and Mode 3. With my Sony camera files, the options include Camera Deep, Camera Light, and Camera Vivid. Some cameras have Camera Monochrome profiles.

The thing to stress here is there is no right or wrong way to process an image at this stage, because any color interpretation is really just a starting point. But if you want your raw photos to match the “look” of one of the camera JPEG settings, you can select an appropriate profile. Figure 4.76 has examples of different camera profiles applied to the same image. The top-left image shows the Adobe Standard profile being used, whereas the bottom-right version uses the Camera Standard profile. This would be the one to choose if you wanted to match the appearance of the camera JPEG.

Figure 4.76

Figure 4.76 Examples of different camera profile renderings.

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