In some cases, manipulating the brightness of an image is a more effective Lightroom technique than always reaching for exposure control. Exposure in Lightroom modifies the array of highlights in a photo, while brightness alters the highlights uniformly. For example, adding more exposure to an underexposed image is likely to bloom the highlights, eliminating details. The same effect occurs with an overexposed image in an opposite manner. Applying exposure in Lightroom now darkens the highlights. It’s easy to recognize, study and learn the difference between exposure and brightness control in Lightroom when you manipulate two copies of the same image with each control.
It’s just as true during the editing process as the shooting process: less is often more. Subtle use of various Lightroom effects typically results in the most pleasing and creative images. This is particularly true with clarity control. It works by reading the contrast at the mid-point of the tonal spectrum, and then adds contrast, accordingly. It’s certainly a great tool to emphasize details, but you want to use clarity with a light touch. For example, if you’re a portrait or wedding photographer, then too much clarity control can lead to an overemphasis of the pores in the skin. Creating a skin surface with a smooth, clean look starts with just a bit of clarity control, approximately a -15 setting. Examine the image carefully and closely, and then modify the setting until you have a skin tone that will make your client very happy.
To fine-tune the skin-editing process, choose the adjustment brush. It is one of the Lightroom tools that many photographers think is worth the price of the software. Pressing “K” activates the adjustment brush. Then, click on the vertical directional marks to the right of “Effect,” and also “Soften Skin.” Brush the subject’s face, avoiding eyes, eyebrows, lips and hair. During this process, you can press “o” for an overlay view of what part of the face you’ve covered. Press “o” a second time to remove the overlay. Finally, do some slight tweaking with the clarity and sharpness controls, remembering less is more.
The reality of digital photography jobs, especially events, such as weddings, is that many images are apt to have less than perfect exposure. Your first thought, during editing, is to correct the exposure; however, this can result in losing the quality of skin tones, which will also require some modifications. HSL is the best Lightroom tool for skin-tone correction of an underexposed or overexposure image. If you’re working with an underexposed photo, then choose the target selector tool in the top left of the HSL panel. With it, you’ll be able to reduce the intensity of the skin tones. Select the subject’s skin surface and drag the point across the area. The colors you chose with the target selector are only those that loose some saturation of the skin tones. You’ll find that adding a bit of brightness to the image will give the subject’s skin a very natural and radiant look. Don’t be surprised if this Lightroom technique challenges you. You’ll likely experience some confusion and bad results until you learn the delicate balance of this effect.
Many portrait and wedding photographers like to offer their clients photos with stylish and pleasing vignetting. You’ll discover that Lightroom’s Post-Crop Vignetting tool does an excellent job, especially in making the vignette effect realistic, and not just a digital afterthought. This tool is found on the “Effects” panel. One experienced Lightroom user suggests you start with these settings: Amount = -52, Midpoint = 67, Roundness = +20, Feather = 50 and Highlights = 0.
As of the writing of this PhotographyTalk article, Adobe had released a public beta version of Lightroom 4, which is set to expire March 31, 2012. Some experts and bloggers think this date may suggest a release of the complete version 4 shortly thereafter; others are not so sure. Adobe has not announced when it will release Lightroom 4.
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Photo By: Jim Speth's