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Adjusting tonal values in the Basic panel

From: Enhancing a Black-and-White Wedding Photo with Lightroom

Video: Adjusting tonal values in the Basic panel

Now let's start to fine tune the tonal values in this photo. I'm going to close the film strip at the bottom of the screen to give us more room to work. Immediately after converting an image to black and white. Rather then work in the HSL color BNW panel, I like to scroll right up to the top of this column of panels and click on the Basic panel. And here I'd like to use the sliders in the tone section to optimize the gray scale values in this photo. These are the same sliders that we generally use when we're working with a color image, and the process is much the same too.

Adjusting tonal values in the Basic panel

Now let's start to fine tune the tonal values in this photo. I'm going to close the film strip at the bottom of the screen to give us more room to work. Immediately after converting an image to black and white. Rather then work in the HSL color BNW panel, I like to scroll right up to the top of this column of panels and click on the Basic panel. And here I'd like to use the sliders in the tone section to optimize the gray scale values in this photo. These are the same sliders that we generally use when we're working with a color image, and the process is much the same too.

Of course I'm going to skip the white balance sliders because there is no color in this black and white version of the image. I'll go right to the exposure slider and then I'll work my way down through the other sliders here, using the built-in workflow, that's one of the hallmarks of working in Lightroom. I'd like to make the overall image a little brighter, so I'll drag the exposure slider slightly to the right. I'm going to leave contrast at zero. I think that the bride's skirt is a little too contrasty already. Then I'll go down to the highlights slider. So we do see in the highlights, I ought to bring back more detail in the bright sections of the bride's skirt.

Let's see if that works. I'm going to drag highlights way over to the left. And you can see that we now do have more detail in the folds of her beautiful dress. I'd like to open up some of the darker areas of the photo to see more detail there. So I'll drag the shadows slider over to the right. Now, if you take a look at the histogram, you'll notice that there are no gray bars over here at the far right of the histogram. And that means that there are no pure whites, or whites without detail in this photo. The same is true at the other end of the histogram, there really aren't any pure blacks.

So I'm going to use the white slider and the black slider to extend the ends of this histogram, adding more contrast to image. I'll start with the white slider. Before I use this slider, I'll turn on the highlight clipping warning by clicking in this box in the top right of the histogram. And that would keep me from going too far as I drag the white slider over to the right. I don't want to go so far that I blow out the detail in important light areas of the photo. So I'll drag the white slider over to the right. And soon you start to see some red marks in the photo.

Those red marks indicate the brightest pixels in the photo. Those that I'm now pushing to pure white without detail. I'm going to move back toward the left, reducing the number of pixels that I'm pushing to pure white. Maybe to just about there. And then I'll go back up to the histogram, and I'll click on the Highlight Clipping warning again to turn it off. I'll do the same thing with the Black slider. Now here I'm not as particular about which pixels I'm turning to black, but I'll go turn on the Shadow Clipping warning anyway so you can see how it works. And I'll take the black slider, and I'll drag to the left.

And when you start to see blue areas, those are areas that are being pushed to pure black without detail. I'll move a little bit back over toward the right, to just about there. And then I'll turn off the shadow clipping warning by clicking on its icon at the top left of the histogram. I'm going to scroll down so that you can see the present sliders, clarity, vibrance, and saturation. Often I will increase clarity even in a black and white conversion. But where there is a model or a portrait like this, I don't like to increase the clarity, because increasing clarity increases mid-tone contrast.

And I want to keep the look of the model's skin soft rather than contrasting. And I won't drag the vibrance or saturation sliders. Because if I do touch those sliders, the photo will immediately change back to a color image, and I'll have to convert it to black and white again. We don't need those sliders because they control the intensity of color. Now that I've got the overall basic tonal values where I want them, I'm going to fine tune the brightness values in this black and white conversion by adding a tone curve in the next movie.

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