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Basic Adjustments

Lesson 3 from: Photo Editing in Lightroom Classic for The Photo Enthusiast

Jared Platt

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Lesson Info

3. Basic Adjustments

Learn how to adjust the basic tones and colors of your photos in Lightroom Classic.
Next Lesson: Synchronization

Lesson Info

Basic Adjustments

So let's start with some general work on photos. Now I am a professional photographer and I get paid to do that, but mostly of people photographing people portraits, weddings, commercial lifestyle type things. And so the things that I love the most to take photos of, I don't actually get paid for like for instance travel photography, I love taking photographs of travel. I like making art, I love making landscape photography, but all of those things I do for the love of it. And so we're going to deal with a lot of that stuff today. But don't worry if you take portraits of people as well and photos of your kids, I'm gonna show you photographs of that as well. So we're going to just do photography for the love of it. And I'm going to start with some travel images from Italy. So this is here in venice. Um, and I'm taking photos, you can see that. I've got a number of photos and there's still a lot more, I just grabbed a smattering of, of images from this trip to venice and you can see, I'm...

working from the Rialto bridge of the Great, I'm looking at the Grand Canal right now And uh, I started off taking pictures just, you know, at, if I click the I button, I can see what my photo settings were. So I was at a 500th of a second and it just wasn't doing it for me. It wasn't all that interesting. And so I slowed the shutter down and so now I'm at 30 seconds. So I had to put a neutral density filter on the lens, I had to put the camera on a tripod. Um and then I took this photograph. I really like this a lot better, it's more interesting. Um And so now I'm going to start working on this photograph um and you'll notice that I'm I'm working on an image that's a bit too bright. So I'm going to go into the develop module and I'm going to start working on the brightness of this image first. So I'm just going to take the exposure and I'm going to bring it down. So just dragging down the exposure and you can see that I've got the information there. So the clouds are fine. There's nothing wrong with the clouds, there's no blown out information there. Although if I click on the jakey you can see where there is a little bit of highlight warning going on in this photograph. So the computer knows that there's information up here in the clouds. It's it's kind of bright but it's there. But it also knows that this is really close to not having much information in it. So just like your camera lightroom can warn you that certain spots look like they're going to blow out. Be careful and so I can turn that on and off by clicking on the J key. If I was underexposed, let me just underexposed it really quickly, you would see blue instead. So if if the image was underexposed, you'd see blue. But you can see that there's enough information that that warning was just a warning. It wasn't necessarily like telling us that we were uh without information at all. However, if I had disregarded these warnings and printed it this way, this would be paper white and so would this because there's no information showing there. It's gone beyond the information. And so let's take this exposure down and let's just get those clouds and that sky back in place. So I start with my exposure simply because that's what's going to get my general exposure correct. Now, I'm not going to try and deepen that I'm not going to try and make the sky exactly where I want it to be because the exposure is actually the mid tones and you can see this happening in the exposure when I hover over the slider itself. You can see that, it highlights the middle of the history graham. So the exposure covers everything from just a little bit below mid gray too, just a little bit above mid gray. So it's mostly in that light and mid gray and slightly darker. Mid gray area. And by the way, I can even also grabbed right here on the history graham and if I click on that hissed a gram and just drag it, I'm playing with the exposure slider, see the exposure slider sliding. So I have the ability to either edit it right there on the history graham or I can edit it down here in the exposure knob. So I'm going to bring that down because I'm, I'm really looking right here and right here and on that water, that's what I'm really looking at when it comes to my exposure. So I'm just kind of playing around with those until I like the way those buildings look and I think that's pretty good. So we're almost -1 stop here. Then we're going to go down to our whites are whites are, if you hover over the whites, you can see the whites. Is this like bright, bright area? It's the super bright whites. And if you hover over the highlights, you can see the highlights are kind of here between middle gray and white. So you've got middle gray, you've got highlights which are alright, and then you've got whites which are really at the top end of the exposure. And so we're going to first go into our whites and we're gonna bring those down because we want to see what that sky is really going to look like. So see I'm pulling that sky down so that I see all the information in the sky. And then I'm going to take my shadows up. So I'm taking the shadows up because I want to start looking at. So I got my mid tones right? But now the shadows are right here in the history Graham, they're below that mid tone. And I want to bring those shadows up so see where the shadows are. The shadows. There's right here on the right hand side of this um building, you can see that this building is in shadow. And so I'm going to start bringing that shadow up so that I can start seeing those buildings. And I'm starting to notice something about this photograph and that is that I've got some kind of a vignette going on so you can see it's kind of dark up in the left hand corner and it's dark down on the right hand side. So I don't like this vignette that's happening. So I'm going to actually go into my lens correction area right now and I'm going to turn on the profile corrections and boom, did you see how bright that got right off the bat? Because the natural vignette ng of the lens has been combated by lightroom itself as well as the natural bowing of the lens. So you noticed that it kind of changed the look of the photographs so it started to bow, watch this, see that, see how it changes and these things get a little bit more expanded and it's simply because the lens has a natural bow to it and it also has a natural vignette and this is correcting for all of those and it's doing it very scientifically because lightroom has studied each and every one of the major camera makers and all of their major lenses. So I'm going to click on that and it fixes that I can also go in here and I can choose whether I want the vignette Ng to come back but I want the distortion to stay or I can take the distortion back so that I get the natural distortion of the lens, which quite frankly, I don't mind that at all. I don't mind the natural distortion of the lens. But I don't want that vignette Ng see how that vignette Ng is ruining the shot. So I'm going to leave the vignette Ng off. So there's no vignette Ng and I'm gonna take the distortion back to normal so that I'm getting that natural bowing of the lens because I think it looks good. Um and and that's the thing is everything you do here is going to be based on how does it look to you. So we chose our natural profile correction, it found our camera and our lens and we chose to adjust the amount of the distortion and the amount of the vignette Ng. And now I'm going to close that tool and now I'm gonna go back to my basics and I don't have to brighten up as much now. So that's great because it saves me on some of that quality issue where I was trying to brighten it up too much and here's here's something to understand about Lightroom anytime you have to do something really big and heroic inside of Lightroom, you're gonna cause a little problem in the quality. So for instance, if you severely under expose an image and then you try and brighten it up, like for instance, this image. So this image is quite underexposed. If I try and I'm going to zoom in and watch what happens if I bring this image into correct exposure, see how much noise there is. So when I mess up on a photo and I under expose it and then I try and bring it up, I get noise and so don't think of lightroom as magic. Try and get the best exposure at the camera so that when you're inside lightroom you have the best possible quality. But that also means that when you're working on a photo, make sure that you are working on that photo and thinking about quality of the entire time. So as I zoom in here, I don't want there to be too much of that noise. So I'm going to make sure that as I increase the shadow, see if I go too far, I start to see that noise. So I don't want to go too far with it. I just want to go as far as absolutely necessary to get the right amount of exposure and that's that looks really quite good. Um then I'm gonna go into my highlights and I can still see that there's some highlights over here and there's highlights up in the clouds that we can deal with. So I'm gonna grab the highlights which are kind of those middle whites right there. I'm gonna take that and go to the left with it. And I'm starting to bring, see how the clouds are starting to come back in. But I'm not messing with the buildings, I'm just messing with the clouds. So as I bring those highlights down, I start to get better definition in the clouds, but I'm not messing with here, but I still have this area over here that's a little too overexposed and we'll we'll deal with that in a bit. So now I have plenty of information in the clouds. I've got the right general exposure on the buildings. I've got the right shadows going on, but it's looking a little bit thin to me. And that's where the black area comes in. So black is right here at the very, very left hand side of the history graham. And it's the last thing I'm going to go to simply because I want to play around with the richness of the photo now. So this is where we're getting into these deep shadows were getting into these uh windows here. We're getting into those definitions of lines and pipes and things like that. So I'm just going to take that black point and bring it down until I start to see the richness that I'm looking for in the general photograph. And so that looks pretty good. I've got good black right there. I've got good black there. It's still a little thin over here and there's some pop that I would like to get out of that. But there are other tools for that job. So I've just taken you through the basic tone adjustments and you can see on this photograph. Um I I specifically made the photograph and what was paying very close attention when I exposed it to make sure that I got all of the information. So my hissed a gram had all the information in it, nothing was blown out and nothing was too dark but it was right there in the center but it didn't look great to start with, it looked too bright because I was trying to capture all the detail without blowing out my highlights. So I had to come in and do a little bit of monkeying here inside of the basic exposures. And that's important for you to realize that a perfect exposure does not always look perfect at the camera. You have to know what your camera is capable of doing so that then you can bring it into lightroom and finish it. So when I was at the camera I was exposing specifically for all of the data, I wanted the highlights in the clouds and I wanted the shadows and so I brightened it up as far as I could possibly go. So I could get these shadows over here on the right hand side, I could get the proper exposure on them. But I was watching those clouds and making sure that I wasn't going to completely blow them out. So get to know your camera so that you can get really good exposures that way when you come in here to lightroom you can actually finish them and finish them well. So at this point we're finished with the basic tone controls and now we can start working on the color. Now I want this to be a color image so we're gonna stick in color. But that's the very first decision that you're gonna make and then after that you're going to come down to what's called the profile. Now profile is the basic underlying color and contrast definitions. So that's actually before Lightroom ever shows you the photo. It has to calibrate itself to the color. So it has to say red equals red or red equals pink or red equals maroon. And so there's this definitional thing that's happening from the raw photo before Lightroom shows it to you. And so that's what the profile is. It's that dictionary of color. It's that definition of what does black look like? Is black black or is black kind of a light gray and is white white or is white kind of a dingy white. Um is red red or is it orangish? Those are the kind of definitions that you have to give light room a dictionary for. And so that's what this profile is all about. If you click on this drop down menu, you can see some basic ones here. But what I want to show you is this grid, this grid is what we call the profile browser. And when we're in the profile browser you'll see that there are a whole bunch of different folders here. But this one says camera matching and camera matching allows you to try and match what you saw on the back of your camera. So these are all based on Canon's photo styles that it has on the back of their camera. So there's faithful. There's landscape which you can see that it's really quite poppy color. And then there's portrait which kind of is a neutral color for skin and things like that. Then there's neutral which kind of flattens everything out there is standard and then there's monochrome. So these are the six styles that come camera matching. There's also adobe raw styles. There's adobe color, there's monochrome neutral which is really flat. Um And this is to try and give you more latitude in the photograph itself. There's adobe landscape which is actually much better if you look at adobe landscape versus cannons. The camera matching landscape that's kind of ugly. So in adobe I like the landscape much better. The blues. Not so ugly. Um And then there's adobe portrait which is actually much softer. Um then there's adobe standard and there is adobe vivid. Adobe vivid is quite good for landscape photographs. So let's choose adobe vivid. So now we have a profile that defines the color. How bright, how poppy do we want our colors? And then we get to play with our white balance and of course the original white balance, we can click on the dropdown menu and we can either choose as shot so that we see exactly what we chose at the camera. Or we can choose one of the camera's settings, daylight, cloudy, shade, tungsten, etcetera. Or we can customize it. So let's just try by doing kind of a cloudy day and you can see that it gives me a weird color and that that weird color is probably actually because my um my neutral density filter is putting a little bit of color on to the photograph as it comes through because I don't, very few neutral density filters are perfectly neutral there either green or magenta or yellow or they kind of have a cast to them and you pay more in order to get rid of that. So if you pay $400 for your neutral density filter, You probably have very little color cast and if you pay like $78 for it, you're going to get more. So it just depends. Um so I'm gonna actually have to go in and do a custom white balance and the way I'm going to do that is I can either click on this white dropper and I can go and find a white that I know to be white so I can choose this white way back here on this yellow building and that gives me a pretty good white. However, keep in mind that when you're doing a white balance with the color dropper on a landscape photograph, you're probably not ever actually choosing a true white unless you have a gray card with you. And so just be aware of that. But that got me in the zone and so now what I want to do is I want to grab the temperature and I want to dial it down a little bit, dial it up a little bit, just going back and forth to see what looks best and this really is just kind of, it's a preferential type of thing. Do I want it to be a little cooler? Do I want it to be a little warmer? I think I'm gonna go with kind of slightly cool but not cold. This is that's cold. So I wanted to be a little bit cool but still some warmth in those photographs and that I'm really looking at the sky mostly. Then I want to go into the tent. Now temperature is a bit of a preference, but tent is right or wrong generally speaking and so I'm going to grab it and go magenta and you can see that looks bad. Oh, green looks bad. So you can see when I'm wrong. And so if you're not good at color and you're getting used to it and you're like, I just, I'm not good at selecting color. The best way to do it is to just swing wide. So go to where you know it's wrong and you're like, oh, that's, that's wrong and oh that's wrong. And then swing a little less wide and just keep going back and forth so that you can see what, what's wrong and that's how you learn what's right is by going into the area that's wrong. So you go a little past right and you, you realize, oh, I'm too far this way and then it's a little bit like college I guess. So you, you go a little too far one way and then you realize I probably need to back it off a little bit in my life and then you go a little too far the other way and you're like, probably could let loose a little bit more and you kind of go back and forth. Same thing with color. So we're going to go back and forth until I stopped seeing that obvious difference between green and magenta and then I'm going to finally kind of hone into an area that looks just normal and I'm that tent, I'm always looking for normal, I just want it to look natural. So now that I have what I think actually, I think it's still a little off there. So I wanted to be natural looking here, the temperature maybe it could go a little bit warmer but there I like what I'm seeing here, the sky looks good. The buildings look pretty natural. Um I kind of like what I'm seeing here so we now have good color, we have good exposure, we have good contrast and now we have good color. So once we've dealt with tone and we've dealt with color now it's time to start playing because we've we've normalized the image and now we start playing with things like presents. How much texture do I want these buildings? How much how much do I want the contrast to change in the mid tones? Is there any kind of haze or fog that I need to cut through? Do I want it to be more vibrant? Do I want it to have more saturation in the colors? This is the kind of stuff we're gonna deal with. So I'm gonna go in here and the first thing I'm gonna do, I'm gonna zoom in at 100% just so I can see the buildings, those buildings look nice and I love the texture in venice. So I'm gonna take the texture way up that way. I can really see all of the textures in the building. That looks so awesome And especially I want to see all that texture in the buildings because I want to compare it to the smoothness of the of the water. So I'm looking at the texture that looks really great. And now I'm going to do something else. I'm gonna take the clarity up a little bit too. Now clarity is different than texture, texture is actually looking to increased the texture like bricks and leaves and dirt and things like that. So it's small texture whereas clarity is looking to create intense contrast in the mid tones. So it takes darker grays and makes them darker and it takes lighter grays and makes them lighter. And so that's going to make things pop. So watch these windows start to pop, watch the white get wider and the dark get darker. Here we go. See that if I go the opposite way, the whites get less white and the darks get less dark and so we lose contrast and now we're gaining contrast. So and if we go too far then it looks really awful. So we have to be very careful not to go. Usually like 10 is a pretty good amount of clarity. So I'm just going to kind of play around with it until I get a little bit more poppin those and I like it. That looks really great. So now let's go to vibrance because that's the tool I most likely use when I'm dealing with color intensity. So I'm gonna go to the vibrance and I'm going to bring it up and notice that as I go to 100. the blue gets bluer but it still protects all these warms and the warm there too warm right now obviously, but they're not as ugly as they were under saturation is control. So I'm going to just increase the vibrance until I get a good pop on that sky that's blue and until I get a little bit more in this yellow and a little bit more in this orange, that's pretty nice. I like the colors that I'm getting, they're not over the top, they don't look fake, they look real, but they're fairly subtle and that's that's what I want to go for now, after doing all of that. Now, I need to decide what to do with the photograph because it's still not where I want it to be. And that's simply because my eye is not being drawn to these buildings, it's being drawn to this big, huge white building over here and it's being drawn to the sky and it's being drawn to this area down here in this, in the water. So I'm not really keen on the photograph yet. And so now I'm going to have to start playing with other controls

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Ratings and Reviews

Byron Sieber

Jared does an excellent job at taking a subject and breaking it down step by step. He includes great explanations along the way to help you understand why he is doing something. His results, which are great photos, speak for themselves.


Excellent class with great detail on the new Masking tools! Thanks, Jared!

Michael Grosso

Excellent overview of the features included in the most recent upgrade of Adobe Lightroom. Very practical applications are covered at a very good pace. Thank you!

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