Author Topic: Lightroom part 3 - Exposure  (Read 2622 times)

Offline theqca

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Lightroom part 3 - Exposure
« on: October 08, 2014, 06:37:00 PM »

Here's how it works - basic exposure can be adjusted using the "exposure" and "contrast" sliders. Using these sliders however in most cases isnt really a very good complete solution.

The exposure slider controls mid-tones and some of the lower highlights in your photo.

When adjusting exposure in LR you can either go with the preview that you see of the image or better still - check the histogram as well as the preview. The histogram is very useful if you've shot your photo using one of the methods mentioned below.

ETTR
One of the rules of shooting a good photograph is to expose as far as possible to the right without blowing out the highlights. This isnt the only method and the intention here isnt to start a debate but If you've shot your photograph with this rule in mind - you can make some minor tweaks in LR by using the histogram that's there. I would suggest you follow this rule and get a shot that is exposed in a manner where the histogram shows a slight movement towards the right but isnt so far to the right that you've clipped your highlights. (More details on clipping and how to check for this later during this tutorial.)
ps - shoot in RAW and open the RAW file in LR if you need more control over tweaking exposure during post processing.



Underexpose a bit

If you've used the "under expose slightly" method of shooting you may end up with some noise in the darker areas when you try to brighten the image a bit in LR. Use the histogram to push up the exposure a bit -  Usage of some Noise Reduction is possible and LR does this quite well - we'll cover noise reduction in another post. I used to follow this method earlier and i still do sometimes depending on what I'm shooting however i've ended up with too many shots where I'm unable to do much with the noise even after applying NR so I've now started following the ETTR method.
ps - shoot in RAW and open the RAW file in LR if you need more control over tweaking exposure during post processing.

"Correct in camera exposure"
Not always possible - camera meter and you can be easily mislead unless you have proper tones, natural grey thats recorded as natural grey by your meter etc etc

The point is irrespective of what exposure method you usually shoot with, some enhancement is easily possible with LR interms of exposure.

Simple rule - Move the exposure slider to the right to make the image brighter. Move it to the left to make it darker.

In some cases i may want to move the contrast slider a little bit to the right - i usually however don't touch the contrast slider at all as this slider makes the darker parts look even more dark so you need to go back to the exposure slider to tweak things further.

I mentioned checking the histogram....and here's how the histogram works.

The centre of the graph shows you the midtones, the left shows you the darker areas and the right part of the graph shows you the brighter areas of the photograph.

Whenever you touch the cursor to a particular slider (like the exposure slider) the graph will show you a grey area which is affected by that particular slider.

Warning lights
There are also 2 triangles in the top right and left corners of the graph - these are like warning lights that tell you when you've moved some sliders that are affecting the exposure and are resulting in things like clipped highlights / clipped shadows.
You can click on these two triangles and turn on the shadow and highlight clipping feature which will show you where in your photo (in the preview) you've got clipped highlights and shadows

Highlights - when you move the exposure slider look at that triangle in the top right corner. If its black it means you are not clipping / blowing out any of the highlights. If its white it means you've got clipped highlights. If its a colour like red or blue it means you've got clipped highlights but only for that particular colour. So if you its white then you need to adjust the highlights in the photograph...if its a particular colour like red it may not impact your photo all that much. The idea is to move exposure to the right till you dont clip the highlights.

If you feel that reducing the exposure via the exposure slider is not working very well as its also making the rest of the image too dark then you need to use the "highlights" slider - this will control just the highlights.

the next slider is the "shadows" slider - i use this sometimes to get some details in the shadows. Just move it and look at the preview.

The trick here is to keep going back to the exposure slider and tweak it a bit after you've used the highlight or shadow slider. Keep checking the histogram for clipped shadows / highlights.

White and Black point

The white and black sliders control the darkest and the brightest parts of the image and are used for setting the white and black point in a photograph.

Press the Alt key and drag the Whites slider to the right. (the photo will turn black when you press the alt key and touch the "whites" slider). Keep dragging the slider till you see white areas appear. The white areas are the ones which are clipping so you move the slider till they're just about to appear.

Now press the Alt key again and drag the Blacks slider to the left (similiar to what you did with the whites slider but move to the left instead of the right). Keep dragging left until you see black areas appear - those are the bits that are clipping the shadows so move the slider till they're just about to appear.

Thats the white and black point of the photo.

Screen shot After adjusting exposure




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Additional update

There are photographers who decide on correct "exposure" by looking at the graph more than the preview. To me this is an incorrect approach as there is no real "correct" or "incorrect" exposure.

So while we do talk about over exposed images - what we're saying is that we feel that the image would look better if the exposure slider is moved a bit to the left. Similarly when we're saying an image is "under exposed" we're saying that we feel the image will look better if the exposure slider were moved a bit to the right. This is correct in most cases but there are exceptions to the rule.

There are a number of photos which will look better when under exposed and similarly there are photos which will look better when over exposed a bit - even when the graph is telling you that you've got it wrong.

Photography is a creative art form - you cant just use a graph and say the exposure is wrong. So what i usually do is - Look at the photo (the preview), then look at the graph, then look again at the photo..then the graph..do some tweaks..check both and make up my mind if the exposure is "correct". Dont just give a verdict based on gaps that you see in the graph.


ps - there is an "auto" button in LR ....I dont ever touch it. For the same reason why i dont ever shoot in "auto" mode - I want to decide the settings that determine the way my photograph will look and i think i can do this better than something that's been programmed into the camera / software.


 
« Last Edit: October 10, 2014, 09:55:03 AM by Ayaz »
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Offline prabeerp

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Re: Lightroom part 3 - Exposure
« Reply #1 on: December 10, 2014, 05:02:25 PM »
Hey Ayaz

Very Helpful write up.

One query, What is the significance of setting the White and Black point in the photograph?

Personally I have never touched these sliders, was unaware of the effect.

Thanks

Prabeer

Offline theqca

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Re: Lightroom part 3 - Exposure
« Reply #2 on: December 13, 2014, 11:07:36 AM »
Thanks..

Its an easy way of ensuring that you are taking full advantage of the dynamic range and contrast available to you - you get the "blackest" black and the "whitest" white that's available so the pic wouldn't look "flat"
Nikon FM(black), Nikon FG, Nikon D700, Nikon FM(silver), Nikon FM10, Pentax Spotmatic, Zenith TTL, Minox Wetzlar, Agfa Optima III, Yashica & Rollei rangefinders etc

28mm 2.8, 70-300vr, 200mm f4, 50mm 1.4, 55mm 2.8 macro, 50mm 1.8, 16mm 2.8, 70-210 f4 macro, Lensbaby, Helios 44 f2, 90mm macro, etc

Offline prabeerp

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Re: Lightroom part 3 - Exposure
« Reply #3 on: December 13, 2014, 09:39:32 PM »
Hey thanks Ayaz. Gotta note this one down. Usually I don't mess with a whole lot of sliders below the curves section of the develop window. Looking forward to more tips.

Offline theqca

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Re: Lightroom part 3 - Exposure
« Reply #4 on: December 13, 2014, 10:09:38 PM »
Usually I don't mess with a whole lot of sliders below the curves section of the develop window.

The sliders I've mentioned are above the curves section...its the first set of sliders under "Tone"...after Whitebalance....

I'll put up some stuff on sharpening next
Nikon FM(black), Nikon FG, Nikon D700, Nikon FM(silver), Nikon FM10, Pentax Spotmatic, Zenith TTL, Minox Wetzlar, Agfa Optima III, Yashica & Rollei rangefinders etc

28mm 2.8, 70-300vr, 200mm f4, 50mm 1.4, 55mm 2.8 macro, 50mm 1.8, 16mm 2.8, 70-210 f4 macro, Lensbaby, Helios 44 f2, 90mm macro, etc

Offline prabeerp

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Re: Lightroom part 3 - Exposure
« Reply #5 on: December 13, 2014, 10:27:30 PM »
That goes a long way to show how important this series is to guys like me[emoji12]

Offline dishuBOSS

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Re: Lightroom part 3 - Exposure
« Reply #6 on: October 04, 2015, 11:54:51 AM »
I am a new member and just found this almost year old series. Found it very very helpful, as exposure was one thing that I didnt understand quite correctly in Lightroom. Though I now see that this series ended like Arrested Development (leaving its fans wanting for more), but the things told here are really useful.

Thank you Ayaz Bhai :)

Offline SandraDutton

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Re: Lightroom part 3 - Exposure
« Reply #7 on: November 05, 2020, 11:14:23 PM »
Beautiful, nothing else can describe, awesome.