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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.
Let's begin to put some of our knowledge into practice, and let's further deconstruct, or kind of demystify how these tone controls work by applying these controls to an image. The photograph we'll be working on, you can find in the people folder. It's titled shaun.dng. Let's take this image to the Develop module. This is a picture of one of my friends, Shaun. He was standing in as I was setting up some lights, and he happened to be holding this lynda.com cup, so I thought it would be kind of fun to use this picture. Well, here in our Tone controls, we know that we can change Exposure.
I'm going to exaggerate a little bit here, just to figure out how these controls work. For Exposure, if we drag all the way up, that becomes too white; drag it all the way down, and it becomes almost completely black. All right. Well, to reset one slider, you double-click the slider name. Let's take a look at Contrast; increase the contrast, or decrease the contrast. Now, as I make the Contrast adjustment, there's something really important to begin to think about. Contrast has a close relationship with color. Take a look at the color of the coffee mug, or of the shirt.
Well, it's much more subdued with a low contrast, compared to with high contrast; well, it seems much more vibrant. So as we make changes to our photographs, we're going to see this with the other controls as well. Because of this, eventually, we'll need to make some adjustments here, and then use some of our other color controls in order to kind of modify, or make changes, or compensate for some of these color shifts. Okay, well, I also want to point out something else here. Let's say that we make two different types of adjustments: an Exposure, and a Contrast adjustment, or any number of adjustments here, and we want to reset all of the Tone controls.
How can you do that? Well, if you hold down the Option key on a Mac, Alt key on Windows, this Tone button right here, it changes to Reset Tone. So keep that key pressed, and then click on that, and it will reset all of your sliders. The reason I point that out here is just because what I want you to do is to really tinker with these sliders, really swing them hard one way or another, really try to figure out how they work, but then of course, reset everything, and try it again, and keep trying until you kind of teach yourself how these work.
Okay, well, what about Highlights? Well, we've talked about Highlights before; that it works on this tonal region here. We'll click and drag that to the left, and that makes the image a little bit more even. Interesting. The brighter side, well, it's a bit more subdued. This darker side over here kind of stayed as is, and we can see how that works, again, just primarily working on those brighter tones. Okay, well, let's continue to exaggerate. What if we wanted to work on some of these shadows here? Not the deep dark shadows, but some of the middle shadows.
Well, we could use this Shadow slider, drag that up, and what's going to happen is the image is going to start to appear like it's a little bit more evenly lit, versus one side that's bright and one side that's dark. So again, Shadows can kind of boost a little bit of light into that area. One of the things that I notice is as we do this exaggeration here, the whites are still too bright. We need to reach into those brightest tones; we do that with the white slider. Here we can either brighten those up, or we can darken those down. And again, I'm not saying that the image looks better here, but what I am trying to do is really get us to think about how we can modify our photographs using these controls, and I'm doing this by exaggerating with these controls.
All right. Well, what about blacks? Well, here we can bring up the blacks, or we can bring those back down, darkening those. And again, what this can do for us is give us just amazing flexibility with how we process the image. And here, the image is completely overdone. Yet, one of the things that you can do to kind of save the day with your photographs is to add a little bit of contrast; kind of expand this histogram back out. You can see how it's almost flattening it, and pushing it back to where it was.
Now, of course, we'll have a little bit of a color issue, but you can start to see how it can kind of almost just soften the relationship between the huge pull or push that we did with these different sliders. Again, keep in mind this is all little bit of an exaggeration. This image looks overprocessed. Here's our before, and then now our after. Yet, that being said, we still have a pretty strong amount of flexibility with how we push these sliders. You can also see that this latest version of Lightroom, even though we make these really drastic and dramatic adjustments, for the most part, the image, well, it's really holding up under these huge tonal adjustments or movements.
And really, in closing, what I want to highlight here is just that what I'm hoping that this movie does for you is that it just starts to help you connect the dots, and realize that, you know what? Working with these sliders is not really that difficult. It's just thinking about how these target different areas of the image, and how you can start to target those areas in order to come up with whatever your desired results, or aesthetic, or look is for your photograph, and that by using these sliders in combination, it can help you come up with a way to process your image that really previously was almost unimaginable. It will give you this new flexibility to, ideally, help you correct, and also enhance your photographs.
Well, here, as you can see, we're really just scratching the surface. There's obviously more to talk about in regards to these tonal adjustments. So let's continue this conversation, and let's do that in the next few movies.
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