Sep 282011

The prereleases came out a while ago on, but now the official versions of Lightroom 3.5 and Camera Raw 6.5 are out.  If you have Lightroom and/or Photoshop set to automatically check for updates, they will prompt you next time you open Lightroom 3 or Photoshop CS5. Otherwise, in your software go to Help>Check for Updates.  These include new camera support, new lens profiles, and bug fixes. Continue reading »

Sep 012011

The tone curve is not the most intuitive feature of Lightroom or Photoshop.  In this tutorial I will explain how to read the curve, and then how to use the basic version of it in Lightroom and Camera Raw.   Note that this is a rewrite of an old post.  If you are a Photoshop user, you will want to read the old one  (but keep in mind that the Lightroom information is out-of-date there.).

The tone curve is used to brighten or darken tones in your image.  For general image brightening and darkening, I usually start with Exposure in the Basics panel to set how bright the brightest tones in the image should be, and then I move to the Brightness slider to set overall image brightness.  Finally, I go to the Tone Curve when I want to affect just particular ranges of tones — for example, perhaps I want to brighten just the shadows or darken just the highlights in an image.  In Lightroom, it is the panel directly below the Basics Panel in the Develop Module.  In Camera Raw, it is the second symbol from the left below the histogram.

Reading the Tone Curve 

Let me first say that if at the first mention of “graphs” and “X and Y axes”, your eyes are about to glaze over, you can skip down to “Using the Basic Curve”.  You don’t have to know how to read the curve to use the basic version.  However, consider giving it a try!  If you fall asleep, I will take full responsibility — just please don’t read this while you are driving.

Continue reading »

Feb 092009

When I don’t take the time to use a tripod, my horizons are often not straight.  Here’s an example:

Crooked Horizon

Crooked Horizon

To fix this in Lightroom, in the Develop Module tool drawer underneath the histogram, click on the Crop Overlay tool (R).    Crop options appear beneath it, and a grid is placed over your image. Continue reading »

Jan 152009

Take advantage of Lightroom 2’s  (or Camera Raw’s) adjustment brush to create images that are part black and white and part color.

I will start with the color image below, and convert all of it to black and white except the poster and the can.



In the Develop module, click on the adjustment brush tool (shortcut K).

Adjustment Brush Settings

Adjustment Brush Settings

Slide the Saturation slider all the way to -100.

Make sure all the other settings sliders, such as Exposure, are at zero.

Set your  brush density and flow are set to 100, so that you fully desaturate when you paint.  Adjust your brush size with the Size slider or the left and right bracket keys [ and ].   Now paint over all that you want to be black and white (all but the can and poster for me.)   Adjust your brush size as needed.   To paint with more precision, zoom in and out with Ctl/Cmd + and Ctl/Cmd – or with the Navigation Panel.     If you painted over an area you didn’t mean to, click on Erase  or hold down the alt/option key to get the eraser brush, and  paint to erase.

When you are finished, put the adjustment brush away by clicking on it again or typing K.




PS:  Yes, I wish I had turned the can around before photographing this!

Jan 072009

In overcast conditions, your images may have a blue color cast, as does this great snowman image shot by my friend Debbie Espinosa. It was shot with the camera on daylight white balance, so the camera did not adjust for the bluish color that overcast light has. What the image “should” look like is subjective. Blue suggests cold, so you may like it as is. Or you may prefer it to be more neutral.

Blue color cast

Before: Blue color cast

If you prefer it more neutral, the first way of achieving this is to photograph the subject with your camera white balance set to cloudy. If you haven’t done this, after photographing you can also adjust the white balance in Lightroom. There are three main ways to go about this, all using the white balance section:

1. From the white balance drop down menu, choose cloudy or shade, depending on which looks better to you. Both of these add yellow to adjust for overcast blue light.
2. Use the temperature (Temp) slider: slide it to the right to add yellow, which is the opposite of blue and therefore counteracts it.
3. Click on the white balance tool to select it, and then click on the snow in the image. Lightroom will calculate what color it needs to add to the image to make the area you selected completely color-neutral (i.e. white or grey).

4. Any combination of these methods. For example, you can use the white balance tool to get the image technically neutral, and then adjust the temperature slider to fine tune the white balance for visual appeal.

Adjusted with the White Balance Tool

Adjusted with the White Balance Tool

If you shot many images under the same conditions, fix the first one, then copy your solution to all your other images:

  • Click the Copy button at the bottom of the left panel in the Develop module
  • Check None to deselect all settings
  • select White Balance
  • Click Copy
  • Highlight all of your other images
  • Click Paste (next to Copy)

You can also accomplish the same with Synchronize or Auto Sync, if you prefer.

A couple other notes:

– The same white balance tools are available in Camera Raw.

– White balance correction works best on raw files, but you can also use the tools on jpegs and tiffs.

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