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In this installment of the Photoshop Lightroom 4 Essentials series, author and teacher Chris Orwig guides photographers through the process of improving images with creative color, sharpening, and other effects in the Lightroom Develop module. The course covers each of the tools and features in the Develop module, and shows how to perform basic adjustments, such as exposure enhancement; how to improve image quality through noise reduction and clarity adjustments; how to apply creative effects, such as split toning and vignettes; and how to perform advanced tasks, such as correcting for lens distortion. Exercise files are included with the course.
Here we are going to take a look at a common problem in digital capture, which is called clipping, and we are going to explore how we can correct clipping. Now, what clipping is, is when you have an area of your picture where you have loss of detail. This happens typically in the highlights or in the shadows of your photographs. You can turn on clipping indicators in the Develop module by clicking on the triangle icons here in the Histogram, that will then turn those on, and show us that we have clipping here in this area of the image.
We can also toggle that indicator on and off by pressing the J key; that will turn that on and off. So what's the big deal? What's the problem with clipping? Well, this is telling me that I don't have any detail in this area of the picture. This isn't going to print very well. I'm not going to be able to send this to the printer and get a very good image. So I want to bring this value down, so that I have detail in that region. Well in order to do that, we could use our Highlights, and our Whites controls here.
Well you remember that your Whites, well that's the upper reach. So you maybe thinking, well in the previous version of Lightroom, what I could do is I could recover the highlights with that Recovery slider; with the top slider. Well this Whites slider, it will do a lot of that. It will take down those highlights. We can see how that's working up there in the Histogram; just really bringing those values down. Yet the problem is, it's not reaching far enough. What we need to do is almost push over this whole histogram to the left a little bit more. Well, here is where the power of the latest version of Lightroom really comes into play.
We can use this Highlights slider, and what that will do is it will just push everything over. Notice that as I brought that down, it completely recovered those highlights, so now those are good to go. But what about the shadow side of things? Well here, let's increase our Contrast a little bit, so that we have a little bit nicer look with this picture. And let's also increase the Exposure, and let's watch out for clipping. If we go too far, we will see we will bring in clipping, so we don't want that to happen. We will just bring it up just a touch there.
We have a little bit of clipping on those edges, which I might want to bring down with the Highlights control. In other words, as you move one adjustment, you may have to go back to a previous adjustment in order to correct it. Okay, well on to the Shadows. Well, we have these two controls: Shadows, and Blacks. Let's take a look at what will happen if we deepen our Blacks. Well, if we deepen those, we will lose detail in this region of the picture. Let's reset that by double-clicking it, and taking it back to zero.
Well what about Shadows? Well same thing; if I drag this down, you are going to notice that I will have clipping. Yet, you will notice here that in this case, it's trying to really focus on this area, and not as dramatically hit those deeper darker tones. So I do still have detail in this area of the picture. Hover over it, and you can read your R, G, B values up here. You notice that I still have about 3% of detail there in that region. So what you can do with your Shadows and your Blacks is you can bring these values down until you have clipping, which isn't going to be desirable.
What I mean by that is, sometimes it's okay to clip detail; sometimes it's okay to have no detail in certain types of shadows. There are photographers, for that matter, who have defined their style by clipping the detail in their shadows. The Highlights, on the other hand, well those are a little bit more problematic. But you can see that by turning on these indicators, we can start to make adjustments which have a little bit of objectivity to them. Rather than just tweaking those sliders, and making the image look good to our eye, we can kind of watch the clipping indicators in order to come up with the best adjustment for our photographs.
Now here, let's look at the before and after. We can do that by pressing the good old Backslash key. Here is before, and then here is after. Now if the clipping indicator is a little bit distracting, you can turn that off. You can do that by simply clicking on these icons here. Now let's look at before and after again. Here is before, and then here is after. We have a nicer tonal range, a little bit more contrast, a little bit more density in this picture; well it looks pretty good. All right! Well the last thing I want to do with this picture is, this one needs a little bit of added clarity.
This will deal with our color issue, and just make the image look really nice. Now, we haven't talked about Clarity yet, and we will be hitting that topic a little bit later, but for here, I think it suffices to say that it could use a little bit of that clarity. Take a look at this: here is our before, and then after. It just gives the image that kind of nice, finished look to it. Here in conclusion, what we have been working with here is looking at how we can use those Tone controls in order to prevent or to correct clipping.
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