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Develop basics

From: Getting Started with Lightroom 4

Video: Develop basics

We naturally want all of our images to look their best and sometimes that means applying a variety of adjustments in Lightroom in order to change or improve the overall appearance of a photo. We can exercise considerable control over the appearance of our images with the Develop module. The first step, of course, is in the Library module, to locate the particular image that you'd like to work with. And then switch to the Develop module. Of course, we do have some ability to switch between different images within the Develop module. For example, the film strip is still available, so I could choose a different image there, if I'd like.

Develop basics

We naturally want all of our images to look their best and sometimes that means applying a variety of adjustments in Lightroom in order to change or improve the overall appearance of a photo. We can exercise considerable control over the appearance of our images with the Develop module. The first step, of course, is in the Library module, to locate the particular image that you'd like to work with. And then switch to the Develop module. Of course, we do have some ability to switch between different images within the Develop module. For example, the film strip is still available, so I could choose a different image there, if I'd like.

And on the Left panel in the Develop Module I can also scroll down and find my collections. So I could switch between different collections or switch between images quite easily. But of course in many cases it's easier to find a particular image using the Library Module. As with all of the modules in Lightroom, generally speaking you'll start with the Left panel and then work your way over to the Right panel. With the Left panel representing more basic selections, and the Right panel representing the more detailed controls for your images.

In the case of the Develop module, the Left panel includes the presets. This is where we can apply a particular preset to change the appearance of an image with one click. For example, let's say that I'd like to apply a black and white effect, perhaps with a bit of strong contrast. I'll take a look at the Red Filter preset, for example, or maybe I'll scroll up, and take a look at the High Contrast option. It looks to be a little bright and maybe I'll take a look at antique light. No, I'm not liking the color tint there. I can preview the images by looking at the navigator while I mouse over the presets.

It looks like maybe creative look one might be a good starting point. That gives me pretty good contrast overall but I can also fine tune the adjustments over on the right-hand side. For example if I wanted to darken the image down just a little bit I can take the exposure down to the left. Maybe not too much, perhaps somewhere around there will be good, and I might like to increase contrast just a little more so I'll move the contrast slider to the right. Once I've adjusted settings for the image, if I'm happy with the result and I think I might want to apply those same settings to a future image, I can also save a new preset.

I'll go ahead and scroll up on the Left panel, and to the right of the Presets label I can click the Plus button in order to create a new preset. I'll call this black and white, B and W High Contrast. And I'll make sure that all of the adjustments that I want included are turned on. In this case, there were not very many adjustments that I applied, so I don't need to worry too much about this. I'll go ahead and click the Create button and now under User presets, I have that Black and White high contrast preset. So I can use that to apply the same adjustment to other images if I'd like. I'll go ahead and switch to a different image so that we can take a closer look at some of the controls available for the Develop module. We'll just explore the fairly basic adjustments.

Let's start with our color temperature adjustment. We could change the white balance preset. These are the same settings you'll find on your camera and it will produce the same result. For example, this image was shot under daylight conditions, so the Daylight Preset might work out well. But I can also fine tune with Temperature and Tint. Temperature will shift the image between blue and yellow. So, I can cool down or warm up the image. In this case, I think I'll warm things up just a little bit. And then I can move to the Tint slider, and that allows us to shift between green and magenta. The Temperature slider tends to be both corrective, meaning we're compensating for a color shift in the image.

But also creative, because I can apply a little bit more of a creative touch warming up or cooling down the image. But the tint slider tends to be purely corrective. We don't tend to want a green or magenta tint in our image. And so really we're just trying to compensate for any color that might be there, to produce a more neutral result. We can then move on to our tonal adjustments. If I hold the Alt or Option key, Alt key on Windows, Option key on Macintosh, while adjusting the Exposure slider, I can see a clipping preview.

I'm able to see where in the image I'm losing detail by brightening up the brightest areas. That makes the Exposure adjustment here, in effect, a white-point adjustment. Of course I don't want to rely purely on that clipping preview so I'll want to evaluate the image itself as well as I fine tune that exposure adjustment. I can then move on to Contrast, and here I'm able to increase or decrease the overall contrast in the image. I think in this case I'll increase contrast just a little bit.

Then I can move on to the highlights, shadows, whites and blacks and this allows me to brighten or darken specific tonal ranges within the image. For example, I can make the brightest areas of the image a little bit brighter and perhaps, the darkest areas of the image a little bit darker. I can also fine-tune the whites as well as the shadows. So that helps me to get the best overall tonal appearance within the photo. Scrolling down a little bit, we'll see the Presence section, and here we can adjust clarity, vibrance, and saturation. Clarity I think of sort of like sharpening, but it's really more about reducing the appearance of haze within a photo.

If we increase clarity things look a little bit sharper, a little bit more crisp, and if we reduce clarity things start to look a little bit more painterly. In most cases I might increase clarity just a little bit, but I don't want to go too far. I don't want the image to have an odd appearance. I just want to improve the overall clarity of the photo. Vibrance allows us to boost the intensity of colors within the image, but it does so with a little bit of self-control. So, I usually start with vibrance, adjusting it as I see fit, not going too high, but in most cases increasing just a little bit. And then if I'm still not satisfied with the result, then I can boost saturation. But saturation has a much stronger impact on the image, so in most cases I'll leave saturation alone.

Note by the way that as your modifying any of these sliders if you decide you want to revert a slider to its default value you can simply double-click on the handle for that slider and the control will be reverted to its default value. There are of course other adjustments at your disposal here on the Right panel in the Develop module. But in most cases the basic adjustments are all you need to improve the overall appearance of a photo.

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Getting Started with Lightroom 4

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