Join Jan Kabili for an in-depth discussion in this video Improving lighting and color, part of Lightroom CC First Look.
- [Instructor] Let's take a look at the controls in the light panel and the color panel, which are the editing controls I think you use the most when you're editing your own photos. If you're following along, select this photo from the photo grid and then press the edit button at the top-right. Or, if you're already in this view, you can go down to the filmstrip at the bottom of this screen and select the photo from there. If you used this photo in a previous movie, as I did, and you've moved some of the sliders, put them all back to their starting point by going to this icon on the far right, the three dots, and choosing revert to original.
Now, let's go up to the light panel, and often, your first stop here will be the auto button. Go ahead and click auto and you'll see that Lightroom moves all the sliders in the light panel, putting them where it thinks they should be in order to make the photo look better. Sometimes, that's all you need to do. But, of course, I want to show you how to set each of these sliders manually, so I'm going to undo auto by going up to the edit menu and choosing undo. Or you could use the keyboard shortcut command + Z on the Mac or ctrl + Z on Windows.
And by the way, every time you use that shortcut or choose the undo command, Lightroom CC steps you back one more step in your editing history. Now, with all the sliders back to zero, let's start with the exposure slider. This slider affects the overall brightness or darkness of a photo. This photo is a little dark so I'm going to drag the exposure slider to the right to brighten it up. And by the way, you don't have to use the same values that I'm using, you can use any values that you think look best on the photo.
Next, I'll go to the contrast slider. Dragging this to the right increases the contrast a bit, which means that it makes the darks darker and the brights brighter, and that makes the photo look a little bit less dull. You have even more control over contrast by using the next four sliders. Highlights, shadows, whites and blacks. Let's go to the highlights slider and I'm going to take this slider way over to the left. That will darken the light parts of the photo, which, in this case, are the clouds in the sky and the smoke down here.
And that brings out a lot more detail in those areas. Now, the foreground is a bit dark, so I'll take the shadows slider and I'll drag that over to the right to open up those areas and bring in more detail there. The whites slider controls the very brightest parts of the photo. It's hard to know exactly where to put that, so here's a trick. You can hold down the option key on the Mac or the alt key on the PC and then drag the whites slider to the right until you see some little areas of color.
And then go back to the left until there are just a couple dots of color, and those represent which parts of the photo will be pushed to pure white with no detail. So I'll take my finger off the option or alt key and off of the mouse, and there's the result. Now I'm going to go to the blacks slider, which controls the very darkest parts of the photo. Often, dragging the blacks slider toward the left will make the very dark parts of the photo richer and add some contrast, so let's give it a try here.
Now, you can always go back and tweak any of these sliders. So I think the foreground is still a little bit dark. I'll go to the shadows slider and I'll drag that to the right. Oftentimes, a photo will look better with just a little more color, and you can add more color by going to the color panel and down to either the vibrance slider or the saturation slider. These both do the same thing. Dragging them to the right will add more intense color to a photo, to the left will remove color from the photo.
I'll put that slider back to zero, because often, I don't use the saturation slider because it has too heavy of a hand. Using the vibrance slider will let you do the same thing, but with more subtlety. So with the vibrance slider, I can drag to the right until the sky is just the blue that I want, without making the rest of the photo too intensely colorful. So, that looks pretty good to me, but often, I like to compare where I am with where I started, so I'll go down to the bottom of the screen and I'll press and hold on this icon.
So there's where we started with this photo, and then, when I release my finger from the mouse, there's where we are now. Quite a difference. So now that you understand what the various light sliders do and what the vibrance and saturation sliders do, try applying them to some of your own photos to make them the very best they can be.