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Basic exposure controls

From: Lightroom 4 Image Optimization Workshop

Video: Basic exposure controls

As photographers, we are of course very focused on Exposure when we are taking an image, but we also might want to fine tune the overall Exposure, the Brightness and Contrast, in an image after the capture. In Lightroom, there are a couple of controls that allow you to accomplish a very similar adjustment to changing the Exposure when the image is captured in the first place. Those are Exposure and Contrast, and in many ways these are the most basic of overall tonal adjustments within Lightroom. The Exposure adjustment is in large part, a white point adjustment.

Basic exposure controls

As photographers, we are of course very focused on Exposure when we are taking an image, but we also might want to fine tune the overall Exposure, the Brightness and Contrast, in an image after the capture. In Lightroom, there are a couple of controls that allow you to accomplish a very similar adjustment to changing the Exposure when the image is captured in the first place. Those are Exposure and Contrast, and in many ways these are the most basic of overall tonal adjustments within Lightroom. The Exposure adjustment is in large part, a white point adjustment.

We're establishing a value for the brightest pixels within the image. We can move the slider to the right to brighten the image, and to the left to darken the image, but we're having the strongest effect on the bright areas of the photo. We can get a Clipping preview of the adjustment by holding the Alt key on Windows or the Option key on Macintosh. That will show us where in the image we're losing detail. You can see that I now no longer see the photographic image itself, I'm seeing an indication of where I'm losing detail. As I increase Exposure for example you'll see the image is largely black, but I'm seeing some colored areas and even some white areas within the photo, those areas indicate a loss of information.

A color means that one or more channels are losing information, and white means that all of the three channels, red green and blue, are in fact losing detail. If I release the Alt or Option key, you can see quite clearly that there's naturally the loss of information here. Typically the way I approach Exposure is to Hold the Alt or Option key, and adjust Exposure until all of the spots disappear, all of those colored or white pixels disappear so that you see an entirely a black image. You don't want to go to far just to the point where those pixels disappear so you can move to the right until you see some pixels and then move to the left until all of them disappear.

But that won't always produce a perfect adjustment, you can see here that, that gives us a very dark appearance in the image. And the reality is, in some areas of this photo, I'm not concerned about losing detail. For example, we have some bright reflections on this umbrella handle, there are some white areas that are reflecting quite a lot of light, and so those areas I don't need to be too concerned about. I'll go ahead and increase Exposure until the image looks good, and then I'm going to hold the Alt or Option key in order to get a sense of how much information I'm losing in that case. I can even kind of switch back and forth between those views, by pressing and then releasing the Alt or Option key.

And I see that most of those areas where I'm losing information are either white areas reflecting a lot of light or shiny areas that are similarly reflecting considerable light and so I think that adjustment will work perfectly fine. I can then take a look at the Contrast adjustment, and as you might expect moving to the right will increase Contrast for the photo and moving to the left will decrease Contrast for the photo. I tend to prefer an image with a bit of strong Contrast but you still want to be careful not to increase the Contrast too much. This is purely a visual evaluation type of situation, we can't get the clip in Preview the way we do with the Exposure adjustment, but we can fine tune, taking that contrast to the point where feel the image looks its best.

As you can see, Exposure and Contrast are rather straight forward adjustments. But they can be very, very important to improving the overall tonal appearance of your images.

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This video is part of

Image for Lightroom 4 Image Optimization Workshop
Lightroom 4 Image Optimization Workshop

34 video lessons · 1465 viewers

Tim Grey
Author

 
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  1. 1m 31s
    1. Welcome
      1m 31s
  2. 15m 9s
    1. Overview of the Develop module workflow
      3m 8s
    2. Evaluating images
      3m 26s
    3. Seeing a before-and-after view
      3m 40s
    4. Correcting mistakes with the History and Snapshot features
      4m 55s
  3. 20m 17s
    1. Starting with a Develop preset
      4m 9s
    2. White balance adjustment
      4m 8s
    3. Basic exposure controls
      3m 26s
    4. Highlights, shadows, whites, and blacks
      3m 15s
    5. Adding clarity to an image
      2m 15s
    6. Boosting colors with Vibrance and Saturation
      3m 4s
  4. 31m 39s
    1. Fine-tuning with the Tone Curve adjustment
      7m 22s
    2. Advanced color adjustments
      5m 5s
    3. Sharpening an image
      6m 33s
    4. The Graduated Filter tool
      5m 2s
    5. Painting adjustments into an image
      7m 37s
  5. 24m 11s
    1. Cleaning up blemishes
      5m 4s
    2. Cropping and straightening photos
      5m 55s
    3. Applying noise reduction
      3m 52s
    4. Lens correction adjustments
      6m 2s
    5. Removing red-eye
      3m 18s
  6. 18m 41s
    1. Creating virtual copies
      2m 52s
    2. Converting color into black and white
      3m 51s
    3. Adding a color tint
      2m 30s
    4. Split toning effects
      3m 20s
    5. Adding a vignette effect
      3m 56s
    6. Adding a film grain effect
      2m 12s
  7. 12m 31s
    1. Adjusting multiple images with Quick Develop
      2m 49s
    2. Duplicating the previous adjustment
      2m 38s
    3. Copying and pasting Develop settings
      3m 54s
    4. Synchronizing Develop settings
      3m 10s
  8. 17m 16s
    1. Basic Photoshop workflow
      5m 41s
    2. Stitching panoramas
      5m 1s
    3. Working with HDR images
      6m 34s

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