Setting exposure and contrast
Exposure is determined by how much light your camera’s sensor captures and is measured in f-stops (indicating how much light your camera’s lens lets in). In fact, the slider simulates stops on a camera: a setting of +1.00 is like exposing one stop over the metered exposure in-camera. In Lightroom, the Exposure slider affects midtone brightness (in portraits, that’s skin tones). Drag to the right to increase brightness, or drag to the left to decrease brightness (you can see this in the slider itself—white is to the right and black is to the left).
Keep the lesson05_005 image open, and move the Exposure slider to the right to +1.0. Immediately, the image gets brighter.
If you move your pointer over the middle of the histogram at the top of the right-side panels, the area affected by the Exposure slider is highlighted in light gray and the word Exposure appears below the lower-left corner of the histogram.
Before the change, the range of information lived on the left side of the histogram (shown above left). With the exposure adjustment, all of that has moved to the right (shown above right).
Contrast adjusts the difference in brightness between the darkest and lightest tones in your picture. When you drag this slider to the right (increasing contrast), you “stretch out” the histogram’s data, creating darker blacks and brighter whites. It’s like parting (or joining) the middle of the histogram.
If you drag this slider to the left (decreasing contrast), you scrunch the histogram’s data inward, shortening the distance between the darkest (pure black) and lightest (pure white) endpoints, making the photo’s tones look flat or muddy.
Experiment with adjusting the contrast of the image and see the results. In this image, I moved the Contrast slider to +44, which makes the picture stand out a bit more.
Press the Y key for a side-by-side comparison between the before and after of the image. This will give you a great idea of just how far you have taken the file. This is more indicative of what it was like that morning.