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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Solutions: Lightroom 4 Tone Controls


How the changes in Lr4 are important for nature photographers

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This Article Features Photo Zoom

Michael Frye used the new Tone controls in Lightroom 4 to fine-tune this image of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park.

With Lightroom 4, Adobe has made the most significant change to its RAW image-processing engine since Adobe Camera Raw was first introduced in 2003. These changes have brought some big improvements, especially in handling high-contrast scenes, but the new tools behave very differently than the old ones. Here's a concise guide to the new process in Lightroom 4.

Automatic Highlight Recovery And Black Point
There's no more Recovery tool in the new process (what Adobe calls the 2012 process), because if overexposed highlights are recoverable, that will be done automatically before you even touch any sliders. On the other end of the scale, if an image contains large regions of pure black, the black point is now moved automatically to improve shadow detail.

The New Tone Controls
A lot has changed in the Basic panel. Recovery, Fill Light and Brightness are gone, replaced by three new sliders:
Highlights, Shadows and Whites. And although the names of the other three tools—Exposure, Contrast and Blacks—may seem familiar, their behavior has changed.

First, all the tools are now two-way sliders—they all move both left and right, and moving any slider to the left darkens part of the image, while moving it to the right lightens part of the image.

Also, it may look like the default settings for RAW files have changed, but they haven't; only the numbers are different. The new defaults of 0 Exposure, 0 Contrast and 0 Blacks equal the old defaults of +50 Brightness, +25 Contrast and 5 Blacks. And the new Linear point curve is the same as the old default Medium Contrast point curve.

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