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Demystifying the tone curve controls

From: Lightroom 3 Essential Training

Video: Demystifying the tone curve controls

Here I want to take a couple minutes exploring how we can work with the Tone Curve panel which is located inside of the Develop module. Here you'll notice that we are working with this file grayscale.psd and a lot of times it's helpful to work with a simple grayscale file and apply adjustments to it, so that we kind of deconstruct or reverse engineer how these adjustments actually work and how we can effectively work with these controls. Well one of the things that you'll notice right from the get go is that the Tone Curve panel is pretty interesting. It divides up our adjustments into different regions.

Demystifying the tone curve controls

Here I want to take a couple minutes exploring how we can work with the Tone Curve panel which is located inside of the Develop module. Here you'll notice that we are working with this file grayscale.psd and a lot of times it's helpful to work with a simple grayscale file and apply adjustments to it, so that we kind of deconstruct or reverse engineer how these adjustments actually work and how we can effectively work with these controls. Well one of the things that you'll notice right from the get go is that the Tone Curve panel is pretty interesting. It divides up our adjustments into different regions.

Here we have our Shadows, our Darks, our Lights, and also our Highlights. Now we can make changes with by simply clicking and dragging, or we can also make the same change by using the slider here. Well you may notice that when you make an adjustment there's a grayed out area, and it limits your adjustments to that area. Think of that grayed out area or that little shadow as a safety net and saying, hey this is how far you can modify the highlights. Now as we make changes and as we look at the grayscale, we notice primarily we are affecting the upper range of this grayscale.

Now what limits how far this adjustment reaches or what limits how far we can go? Well by default this particular type of curve has its built-in adjustment, but in addition these different quadrants also control how far we could go. For example, let's do something drastic. Let me go ahead and click and drag this point over. Well here you can see the shadow area for my Highlights is now much bigger. It's a much broader reaching adjustment. So as I make that change, you can see I am affecting much more of the photograph.

So we can control these adjustments in some pretty unique ways. Now to reset these points, double-click them. That will then take those back to the default settings. Well what about the Regions? Well, you can reset those by double- clicking the triangle icons or if you have made some various adjustments, you can also hold down Option on a Mac, Alt on Windows, and then click on Reset Region to take this all back to normal. Now another way that we can make adjustments is we can use the Target Adjustment tool. To use that tool, simply click on it, hover over your image and then click and drag up or down in order to affect that particular area of the photograph, and here you can see I am making unique modifications to those different areas.

Well how then can we preview what we have done? Well all that we need to do is to click on this flip switch. There is before, and then there is after. Okay, well let's go ahead and reset these adjustments. We will do that by holding down Option on a Mac, Alt on Windows. We will click on Reset the Region. All right, well there is also something else that we can use here, which is actually really quite interesting and quite powerful. What you can do is click on this icon down below. That will then take this to a very different type of a curve.

You will notice that it looks like we still have these quadrants in the background. We have the histogram showing up there. We can make many more adjustments. For example, we can work here on the Highlights, and I am just going to set points as I go. You will notice that I am setting points in a much more freeform way and I can adjust specific areas and make really drastic adjustments, in the same way that we can set specific points and make drastic adjustments with curves in Photoshop. In other words, this gives us the flexibility and control that we need in order to make adjustments that are much stronger, much less limited than in our previous view.

Now in this case, let's say that what you want to do is you want to work on one of these points. Well you can click on that and then drag it to the edge in order to remove that. Notice that I am dragging these points off here and I am just clicking and dragging those to the edge of the frame in order to remove those points. Well to add them we can simply click in an area and then drag one way or another. We can also add points by using the Target Adjustment tool and here is where things get interesting. We can simply click to set different points here and as we click to set those points, we can then go back and forth and modify just a specific area of the photograph.

Notice how I am just affecting that area of the image and then this area here. Again, so I have a very distinct and different type of an adjustment. We also have a few presets that we can use as well. If you go over to Point Curve, here we can choose Linear to bring this back to a straight line, or we can use Medium Contrast, a subtle little S curve, or Strong Contrast. Now the nice thing about this is we can take this and then even push this a little bit further if we want to. I will go ahead and modify those points just like that. All right, well so far so good. Let's evaluate.

Here we have it before and then now after. If ever you want to switch back to the other type of functionality, all that you need to do is to simply click on this icon that will then go back and here what we can do is continue on make changes and in this case, we will go ahead and make changes one way or another. So again, the nice thing about this is that we can continually modify this and we can choose which type of curve works best for us. And keep in mind that you can do all those things that you could do in Photoshop in regards to moving these points, the endpoints, adding points, and also modifying real specific areas of our photographs.

All right, well now that we have been introduced to the Tone Curve panel, let's go ahead and take a look at how we can use this in a photograph, and we will do that in the next movie.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Lightroom 3 Essential Training
Lightroom 3 Essential Training

208 video lessons · 33329 viewers

Chris Orwig
Author

 
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  1. 2m 56s
    1. Welcome
      1m 52s
    2. Using the exercise files
      1m 4s
  2. 17m 59s
    1. Creative tip: Using Lightroom
      1m 31s
    2. An overview of Lightroom
      3m 53s
    3. Photographic workflow puzzle
      2m 36s
    4. Why use Lightroom?
      6m 25s
    5. Lightroom and Photoshop
      3m 34s
  3. 29m 34s
    1. The Lightroom interface
      3m 19s
    2. Essential interface shortcuts
      4m 50s
    3. Using the interface shortcuts
      5m 4s
    4. Customizing the identity plate and module pickers
      2m 41s
    5. Using a graphic identity plate
      4m 44s
    6. Changing the panel end marks
      2m 12s
    7. Creating a custom panel end mark
      2m 54s
    8. Changing the image background
      1m 46s
    9. Modifying other interface preferences
      2m 4s
  4. 49m 43s
    1. Importing and file formats
      4m 35s
    2. Importing preferences
      2m 36s
    3. Introducing the Import dialog
      6m 27s
    4. Catalog, import, and preview preferences
      6m 40s
    5. Importing photos from a folder
      5m 44s
    6. Creating a metadata preset
      4m 45s
    7. Importing photos from a CF card
      9m 16s
    8. Using Auto Import
      3m 53s
    9. Using multiple hard drives
      4m 14s
    10. Creative tip: Discard
      1m 33s
  5. 11m 17s
    1. Introducing tethered shooting
      3m 46s
    2. Working with tethered shooting
      7m 31s
  6. 40m 30s
    1. Working in Grid view and Loupe view
      3m 0s
    2. Navigating and zooming
      5m 14s
    3. Shortcuts in Loupe view and Grid view
      1m 39s
    4. Customizing Loupe view and Grid view
      2m 46s
    5. Comparing two images
      4m 55s
    6. Surveying multiple images
      5m 20s
    7. Working with the toolbar in Grid view and Loupe view
      3m 58s
    8. Working with folders and files in the Library module
      6m 25s
    9. Using dual monitors
      7m 13s
  7. 27m 28s
    1. Introducing catalogs
      4m 27s
    2. Working with catalogs
      3m 19s
    3. Exporting catalogs
      1m 44s
    4. Updating legacy catalogs
      3m 2s
    5. The relationship between the raw and DNG catalogs
      3m 8s
    6. Working with raw files in Lightroom
      3m 53s
    7. Working with DNG files in Lightroom
      6m 5s
    8. Creative tip: Using the right gear
      1m 50s
  8. 9m 43s
    1. Using Quick Develop in the Library module
      2m 37s
    2. Synchronizing processing settings across multiple images
      3m 32s
    3. Making incremental adjustments
      1m 45s
    4. Applying white balance and auto tone adjustments
      1m 49s
  9. 35m 28s
    1. Introducing flags, stars, and labels
      5m 0s
    2. Working with flags, stars, and labels
      6m 34s
    3. Adding images to a Quick Collection
      2m 11s
    4. Integrating collections with your workflow
      5m 13s
    5. Grouping images with collections
      3m 7s
    6. Using Smart Collections
      4m 39s
    7. Sorting images
      3m 0s
    8. Renaming images
      2m 1s
    9. Stacking images
      3m 43s
  10. 18m 44s
    1. Adding keywords
      4m 51s
    2. Working with the keyword list
      2m 51s
    3. Synchronizing keywords
      2m 26s
    4. Keywording with the spray can
      1m 48s
    5. Working with the Metadata panel
      3m 58s
    6. Adding copyright metadata
      2m 50s
  11. 17m 46s
    1. Filtering overview
      3m 49s
    2. Locking library filter options
      1m 38s
    3. Filtering based on text
      2m 0s
    4. Filtering by metadata
      6m 13s
    5. Filtering your photos using the Metadata panel
      2m 7s
    6. New filtering criteria in Lightroom 3
      1m 59s
  12. 45m 24s
    1. Exporting images
      6m 19s
    2. Export quality and watermark options
      2m 3s
    3. Exporting movies
      5m 13s
    4. External editing preferences and considerations
      2m 56s
    5. Editing preferences
      5m 6s
    6. Editing photos in Photoshop
      5m 4s
    7. Opening an image as a Smart Object in Photoshop
      3m 30s
    8. Including multiple images in Photoshop as layers
      2m 16s
    9. Merging multiple images in Photoshop
      3m 34s
    10. Creating a panorama
      2m 20s
    11. Working with a CMYK photo
      7m 3s
  13. 15m 37s
    1. Setting up Flickr services
      3m 45s
    2. Uploading photos to Flickr
      3m 35s
    3. Working with comments
      1m 49s
    4. Publishing to a folder
      5m 38s
    5. Creative tip: Visual poetry
      50s
  14. 39m 26s
    1. Develop module overview
      5m 45s
    2. Working with legacy Lightroom files
      3m 46s
    3. Comparing the before and after
      2m 33s
    4. Resetting images to their default settings
      2m 24s
    5. Using the Develop module presets
      3m 10s
    6. Using Snapshot and History
      5m 10s
    7. Using the Histogram
      4m 6s
    8. Working with collections
      4m 25s
    9. Introducing virtual copies
      2m 22s
    10. Creating virtual copies
      2m 46s
    11. Introducing the Develop module tool strip
      2m 59s
  15. 50m 0s
    1. Understanding white balance and color temperature
      3m 10s
    2. Correcting white balance with a ColorChecker
      3m 11s
    3. Using the White Balance tool
      2m 36s
    4. Creative uses of white balance
      3m 47s
    5. Demystifying the tone controls
      3m 39s
    6. Using the tone controls
      3m 45s
    7. Recovering detail in highlights
      2m 29s
    8. Working with vibrance and saturation
      4m 11s
    9. Making color adjustments with the Vibrance and Saturation sliders
      4m 28s
    10. Creative uses of vibrance and saturation
      3m 12s
    11. Understanding clarity
      3m 20s
    12. Working with clarity
      3m 51s
    13. The standard Basic panel workflow
      4m 4s
    14. Synchronizing basic settings across multiple images
      4m 17s
  16. 23m 58s
    1. Creative tip: Why crop?
      1m 50s
    2. Cropping an image
      4m 18s
    3. Straightening with the Crop tool
      3m 51s
    4. Working with the Crop Overlay tool
      3m 18s
    5. Changing the aspect ratio of an image
      1m 38s
    6. Auditioning different aspect ratios
      1m 56s
    7. Quickly changing crop orientation
      1m 49s
    8. Using Crop to improve a composition
      5m 18s
  17. 11m 16s
    1. Retouching with the Spot Removal tool
      5m 43s
    2. Retouching away dust on a lens
      3m 22s
    3. Fixing red-eye
      2m 11s
  18. 22m 59s
    1. Introducing the Graduated filter
      4m 37s
    2. Darkening a sky with the Graduated filter
      4m 31s
    3. Enhancing a landscape with the Graduated filter
      3m 33s
    4. Improving a portrait with the Graduated filter
      5m 14s
    5. Increasing color variety and saturation with the Graduated filter
      3m 50s
    6. Creative tip: Tenacity
      1m 14s
  19. 44m 2s
    1. Adjustment Brush overview
      7m 4s
    2. Essential Adjustment Brush shortcuts
      3m 33s
    3. Enhancing makeup color
      4m 14s
    4. Whitening and brightening teeth
      3m 17s
    5. Improving eyes
      5m 57s
    6. Softening and smoothing skin
      7m 10s
    7. Brightening and improving shadows
      3m 5s
    8. Darkening lips and cheeks
      3m 25s
    9. Correcting overall exposure
      3m 48s
    10. Subtly correcting exposure
      2m 29s
  20. 16m 9s
    1. Demystifying the tone curve controls
      5m 15s
    2. Increasing contrast and color with the tone curve controls
      4m 46s
    3. Correcting exposure with the tone curve controls
      4m 34s
    4. Creative tip: Shoot what matters
      1m 34s
  21. 26m 53s
    1. Understanding the HSL controls
      5m 2s
    2. Using the HSL Target Adjustment tool
      3m 44s
    3. Brightening tones with HSL
      1m 36s
    4. Using HSL to increase warm tones
      3m 4s
    5. Using HSL to increase warm and cool tones
      2m 56s
    6. Creative color with HSL
      2m 57s
    7. Desaturating color with HSL
      3m 27s
    8. Using the Color panel
      4m 7s
  22. 23m 34s
    1. Introducing black-and-white conversion
      2m 15s
    2. Understanding Black & White Mix
      2m 21s
    3. Converting to black and white
      4m 10s
    4. Black-and-white workflow with virtual copies
      3m 35s
    5. Enhancing black-and-white images with the Adjustment Brush
      3m 7s
    6. Using presets to convert to black and white
      3m 12s
    7. Creating a black-and-white collection
      4m 54s
  23. 10m 54s
    1. Understanding split toning
      3m 37s
    2. Advanced split-toning tips
      4m 10s
    3. Split-toning a color image
      3m 7s
  24. 21m 27s
    1. Introducing noise reduction
      3m 26s
    2. Introducing sharpening
      3m 42s
    3. Sharpening in Lightroom
      5m 44s
    4. Advanced sharpening in Lightroom and Photoshop
      5m 4s
    5. Removing chromatic aberration
      3m 31s
  25. 24m 54s
    1. Using the Lens Correction controls
      5m 53s
    2. Enhancing images with lens correction
      3m 6s
    3. Synchronizing vignette settings across multiple images
      2m 32s
    4. Combining lens correction, Lightroom, and Photoshop
      3m 36s
    5. Adding a post-crop vignette
      3m 57s
    6. Adding film grain with the Effects panel
      5m 50s
  26. 7m 37s
    1. Understanding Camera Calibration in Lightroom
      4m 46s
    2. Creative color with Camera Calibration
      2m 51s
  27. 38m 28s
    1. Basic Develop module workflow
      7m 28s
    2. Workflow for converting to black and white
      10m 11s
    3. Workflow project: Surfing
      6m 8s
    4. Workflow project: Portrait
      4m 58s
    5. Workflow project: Portrait details
      8m 39s
    6. Creative tip: Go outside
      1m 4s
  28. 36m 31s
    1. Creating a collection to make a slideshow
      3m 56s
    2. Selecting the best images for the slideshow
      3m 17s
    3. Customizing the layout of the slideshow
      3m 34s
    4. Customizing the background of the slideshow
      4m 14s
    5. Customizing overlay elements for the slideshow
      6m 39s
    6. Creating titles for the slideshow
      2m 27s
    7. Playing back the slideshow
      4m 24s
    8. Previewing the slideshow
      4m 0s
    9. Exporting the slideshow to different formats
      4m 0s
  29. 48m 34s
    1. Creating a collection of images to print
      3m 20s
    2. Laying out images into preset templates
      4m 34s
    3. Customizing the layout of a single image
      4m 26s
    4. Choosing page options for a single image
      6m 8s
    5. Specifying the print job options for a single image
      6m 19s
    6. Creating a custom package
      4m 36s
    7. Creating a picture package
      4m 16s
    8. Printing one image quickly
      1m 42s
    9. Creating a custom print template
      4m 34s
    10. Effective print workflow
      8m 39s
  30. 32m 3s
    1. Creating a collection of images for a web gallery
      5m 18s
    2. Using web gallery templates
      3m 27s
    3. Customizing a web gallery
      6m 49s
    4. Uploading a web gallery
      4m 19s
    5. Creating color and black-and-white galleries
      3m 48s
    6. Uploading color and black-and-white galleries
      3m 32s
    7. Online web gallery resources
      2m 53s
    8. Domain name and hosting overview
      1m 57s
  31. 3m 26s
    1. Online resources and the Lightroom Newsletter
      2m 55s
    2. Goodbye
      31s

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