Friday, August 28, 2015

Tutorial / Lightroom: the basic panel

So I guess most photograpers use Lightroom to edit their pictures. I do a lot of editing in Lightroom too. There are an enormous amount of possibilities in Lightroom so it can easily be a little bit confusing or even daunting what to use and how. 

I've dedicated this post to describing the basic panel in Lightroom in short. This basic panel is found in the develop module. 

It'll come as no surprise that when you shoot in RAW format, you've got more options to change settings with Lightroom, then when shooting in JPG. The RAW format basically gives you complete control over the image. When looking at the basic panel, all the sliders effect the whole picture. 
1. White Balance (WB).
The official definition of white balance is as follows: 
WB is the process of removing unrealistic colour casts, so that objects which appear white in real life are rendered white in your image. Proper camera white balance has to take into account the 'colour temperature' of a light source. This refers to the relative warmth or coolness of white light. 

So when your white balance is off, or when you'd like to create another atmosphere in your image, you can change the WB by clicking on the arrows besides Custom. If you've shot your images in RAW, several options will appear here. 
Although this might sound contradictory, Shade works really well for sunsets for example. 

Try a few different options to get an idea of what a different WB can do for your picture. 

When you're unsure what WB to use for your particular image, you can use the WB selector. 
You can click anywere on your picture to set the right color. If you know for example that something is white you click on that item in the picture. This way Lightroom knows that this is white.
In most cases this works pretty well. But make sure you're always really careful with chosing the correct WB. 

After you set the WB, you can actually tweek it with Temp. The temperature sets the warmths of colour in your picture. Moving the slider to the left makes the colours look colder and moving them to the right does the opposite. 

1.2 Tint
Tint is the second temperature slider and arranges the green to magenta scale.

2. Tone

2.1 Exposure
Pretty basic stuff this. The exposure regulates the overal brightness of your picture. When the exposure of your image was not to your liking, you can change it with the exposure slider. Sliding the slider to the right will brighten the whole picture. Be aware that brightening the picture a lot can actually also increase the noise in the picture, especially in the shadows.

2.2 Contrast
With this slider you can give your image more or less contrast. Moving this slider to the right makes shadows and highlights more noticeable. If you ask me, a good photo needs some contrast. Contrast is very important to give depth to your picture.So see what this slider does in your picture. 

This slider is good for making minor changes, but overall doesn’t offer much control over which tones should be considered as bright or dark. An alternative is using the Tone Curve Panel, but this is a bit more more complicated. I'll get back to that some time in the future in a new blogpost. 

2.3. Highlights and shadows
This slider offers you another option to arrange the light in your picture. This how Adobe describes it:
The Shadow/Highlight command is one method for correcting photos with silhouetted images due to strong backlighting or correcting subjects that have been slightly washed out because they were too close to the camera flash. The adjustment can also be used for brightening areas of shadow in an otherwise well‑lit image. The Shadow/Highlight command does not simply lighten or darken an image; it lightens or darkens based on the surrounding pixels (local neighborhood) in the shadows or highlights. For this reason, there are separate controls of the shadows and the highlights. The defaults are set to fix images with backlighting problems.
The Shadow/Highlight command also has a Midtone Contrast slider, Black Clip option, and White Clip option for adjusting the overall contrast of the image, and a Color Correction slider for adjusting saturation.

An example: 

The second picture shows more detail in the sky and way more details in the shadows. 

2.4 Darks and Whites
Those 2 sliders help you to set a correct dark and white point in you picture.
By clicking on alt key and moving the white slider to the right you can chose the correct white point. Drag it so far till you see a white point:
The same way for the black point. Drag it to the left in combination with the alt key to select a good Dark point. Whites and black give (with the contrast slider) depth to your picture. 

3. Presence
3.1 Clarity
Moving the slider to the right gives your image more details. But, beware and don't overdo it! Ofcourse it's all a matter of taste, but overdoing it here gives your picture a fake look if you ask me. For example when editing a sunset picture, it will even be better to give it less clarity to make the sky more puffy. When you give your sky a lot clarity it will get you a bit of a HDR look. 

3.2 Vibrance
Vibrance is a way to give your picture more colour. It actually boost dull colours in your picture. Moving the slider to the right will make the colors more intense.

3.3 Saturation
Gives the picture more or less colors, depending on how you use the slider. Problem with this slider is that it works on all the colors in your image. That often gives a very non-natural result, so be real subtle this slider. I'd rather use vibrance if you want to tweek the colours. Or even go for the local adjustment and use a brush or a radial filter. 

In this post I haven't covered the Color and Black&White button. These buttons can be found on the top of the basic panel. They are or rather, can be used to convert your images to b&w and back to colour. 
In the not to distant future, we will feature them in a new blog post. So stay tuned! 

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