Join Ben Long for an in-depth discussion in this video Localized tone adjustments in Lightroom, part of Enhancing Landscape Photos with Photoshop and Lightroom.
- Very often you'll be unable to get your image completely finished using only global edits. You won't be able to do every little thing that you want to do, and you're going to have to turn to localized editing tools, tools that allow you to edit only, or adjust only one small part of an image. Now, there's a long history of localized editing, going back to the beginnings of landscape photography, and photography in general. Dodging and burning, masking, multiple exposures, these are all tricks that have been done by the great masters of landscape photography.
So don't feel like you're cheating if you make localized edits. Now, if you're a photojournalist or something, and you're in there making adjustments, and painting things out and what not, yeah, you're cheating, but for fine art photographs, this has always been a normal part of the process. Those guys of old though, they had no idea how primitive their tools were, compared to what we have now. So let's take a look at local editing tools in Lightroom. Earlier we did some global corrections to this image, you can see my sliders over here, I can press the backslash key to see the unedited image, let go of it to see my edits reappear.
So as you recall, this is what it looked like originally, this is what we changed it to. Up here in Lightroom I have my toolbar, this is the corrupt tool that we saw earlier, this is the spot removal tool, red eye correction, and then these three are localized editing tools. The first one is a linear gradient. If you click on any of these tools, the same thing happens. This new panel of controls slides up, and it's mostly the same as the basic controls. It's just there's been some other things merged in here also. Now, right now they're all set to zero.
And if I begin to define a localized edit, I'm not going to be able to see what I'm defining because there won't be any change made to the image, so I'm just going to dial in something. I know I want to brighten the image, I'm going to dial in two stops of positive exposure adjustment which I have a feeling is going to be way too much, and I always want to click on an area where I want there to be an adjustment. I want it effected, I want at least this part brightened, so I'm going to click here, and then wah! Then drag up, towards an area that I don't want effected.
So I'm going to go right to the horizon, and stop. Now I think you should already have figured out what's going on here, everything below this line is getting 100% of my adjustment and then the adjustment is ramping off, here's the midpoint of the ramp, and then it finally ends up at nothing. And so, it's just this nice linear gradient of this effect. The effect itself is defined up here, and it has been defined to be way too bright. So let's dial that back down. So I can, because Lightroom is completely non destructive all the time, I can go back at any time and alter and edit.
Now, I need some true blacks down here. To the highway, and maybe I'll put in a little more contrast which might crush the blacks a little bit, so now I'll pull that adjustment back. And now I've definitely got something brighter up here. I can't really tell because this whole contraption is in the way, so if I click on this tool again, the controls manage as does the interface. I might want to play with the boundaries of my adjustment, at any time I can go back and click on this thing again, well this dot appeared but nothing else did.
This is the handle for my edit. If I come up here, and mouse over it and just hover there, it will show me where the edit is effecting. If I click on it it will select the edit, and now this updates to reveal the parameters for the edit, and this lets me move things around, and I can even rotate my edit. I can even pick up the whole thing and move it about. Going to keep that here, except I feel like, I feel like the mid point's in the wrong place. Maybe I just need to stretch it out even more.
So I'll do that, put it away, and I think I'm going to pull it back out again. Select this, and move the exposure up just a little bit. What you may not know is that, if you hold the mouse over these numbers, you can drag left and right to increase and decrease and it's a finer level of control, it's a little more granular than what you can get with the actual slider. So I use this when I need to make really, really fine adjustments.
And that's looking pretty good. I can make multiple gradients if I come up here and hit new, that deselects and now I could drag out another gradient, and maybe I would darken this one, and as you'll see I've now got two sets of controls, when this one is highlighted I see these control lines, if I mouse over this and click on it, now these highlight and my exposure adjustments alter, to recollect what's been dialed into this edit. I can go up here, click on that to select it, hit the delete key, and it manages all the localized editing tools work that way.
Let's move onto another image. I'm going to grab the paint brush, and this really just works the same way, I dial in an adjustment, and I have brush controls down here, size, feather, flow, you can see my brush here. The center circle gets the full impact of the brush, the outer circle is a feather, I can resize it with the left and right bracket keys, I can change the feather and flow down here, I'm going to turn the flow down, so that it's a little more like a, like an airbrush, and I'm just now, basically painting light into the scene.
Which I've you've never done it before, it's a really satisfying thing to do. So... There we go, now we're getting some sun, lighting up the areas that I remember being lit up. I might have gone a little too far, so I'm going to hit the erase button, and turn it's flow down, so it becomes more like an airbrush eraser. And I can now just pull some of that back, until it feels a little more natural.
I like that a lot. These are good tone correction tools, because they are non destructive, they're just a regular part of your Lightroom work flow you don't have to leave to get them, they're not as powerful as what you can do in Photoshop and we'll look at that later, but if you can get away with making your localized adjustments, your localized tonal adjustments using only these, that's going to save you a lot of time.
- Making global adjustments
- Cropping and straightening
- Global tone and color
- Making localized tone and color adjustments in Lightroom
- Moving from Lightroom to Photoshop
- Thinking like a painter