An Introduction to Curves in Photoshop and Lightroom

Curves is certainly not one of those intuitive features of Photoshop (or Lightroom), or at least that was my perspective when I tried to figure it out on my own before I got formal training. Curves is used to brighten or darken tones in your image, and at a more advanced level, to do color correction work. The best way to use it in PS is with an adjustment layer (Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Curves.) In Lightroom simply go to the Tone Curve panel in the Develop module. The curve will look like this (with different buttons and features around it depending on your software and version).  Photoshop gives you more point-by-point control, so I will begin there. So how do you […more]


Inverting Your Images in Lightroom

If you photograph on negative film and scan it, you may want to invert the image in Lightroom.  Or, perhaps you like the “film negative” look, and want to invert your positive digital images.  In either case, if you have looked for an “invert” button in Lightroom, you will have found out that there is none. Martin Evening has a video out on how you can create a Lightroom preset to invert your images.  It involves inverting one raw file using Adobe Camera Raw, updating the file in Lightroom to reflect the ACR changes, and then saving these changes as a preset that you can apply to other images in Lightroom.  To see the video, click here. I have gone […more]


Cropping with a Fixed Aspect Ratio

In Lightroom you can restrict your crops to be a specific aspect ratio, such as 5×7, 8×10, or the same aspect ratio as your original.  To do so, select the crop tool from the toolbar (R), click on the double up/down arrow next to the padlock to reveal the aspect menu, and choose your desired proportions.  If what you want isn’t listed, choose Enter Custom…, and specify.  Selecting “Original” will constrain any crop you do to the same proportions as the original. Now you can drag inward the edges or corners of the crop frame to adjust your crop.  To move your crop, click in the center of the crop frame and drag the image to reposition within the frame.


Lightroom Adjustment Brush Finesse – Using the Flow Setting

Did you know that the adjustment brush allows you to slowly build up the amount of change you apply to an image, and also slowly back off on a change you made? The secret is in the Flow and Density sliders. Density controls how much of the specified adjustment can be applied in total, and Flow controls how many brush strokes it takes on the area to reach the full effect. Let’s say that your goal is to brighten various parts of your image. You set the Exposure slider to +1.5 stops because you expect that this is the maximum brightening you would need to apply. Setting Density at 100% will allow you to apply the full 1.5 stop effect. […more]


Crop Tool Tip

You may have noticed that once you specify a crop in Lightroom and then try to move the crop frame, that it goes in the opposite direction from what you expect.  Instead of thinking of yourself clicking and dragging inside the crop frame  to move the crop frame, think of yourself as clicking and dragging inside the crop frame to move the photograph.   Once you adjust your thinking, you will find that it performs exactly as expected.


Using Snapshots in Lightroom and Camera Raw

Have you ever worked on an image, been satisfied with your work, but then wanted to try some other things with the option to get back to what you had?  Perhaps you want to compare different versions of your work to decide which you like best — for example, a color version, a black and white version and one with a mix of black and white and color;   or you want to compare a straight-photo look and many  different versions of a highly-stylized look. Snapshots are perfect for this —  every time you reach a point that you want to be able to get back to, create a new snapshot.  Then later you’ll simply click on the snapshot name to […more]

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