Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Lightroom Tone Curve

This week we tackle "the curve".  The Tone Curve panel that is in Adobe Lightroom 3.

The Tone Curve provides you a tool to apply contrast to your image.  It's different from the contrast option in the Basic Panel as it gives you much greater control over how the contrast is applied.  Let's take a quick look at the various ways to apply contrast with the Tone Curve panel and, once you understand your options, I'll leave you with a few links to videos on "The Power of Curves" by Michael Frye to better understand curves.
  • Point Curve - The easiest way to experiment with the contrast in your image is just to select an option from the "Point Curve" drop down. Your options are Linear, Medium and Strong.  I usually switch from Medium to Strong as a place to start and go from there.
  • Sliders - You can also use the individual Region sliders to impact various areas of your image.  Highlights, Lights, Darks, Shadows can all be adjusted individually with the various slider controls.
  • Manipulating the Curve - You can actually grab points right on the curve line itself and drag it up or down.
  • Targeted Adjustment Tool (TAT) - Using the TAT (click the circle,up/down arrow icon in the upper left of the Tone Curve Panel), you can position your cursor over a particular area of the image and drag up or down to impact the contrast of that particular color range in the photo.  This is a very powerful way to adjust contrast.
Now this is a "bare bones" overview of the controls.  To better understand what it is you're doing by moving any of the controls, I highly recommend taking a look at the following videos by Michael Frye.

"The Power of Curves" series illustrates adjusting levels and curves with Adobe Photoshop CS5.  The same principles will apply in Lightroom so this is a good place to start in order to provide you a proper background.

The Power of Curves - Part 1 with Michael Frye
The Power of Curves - Part 2 with Michael Frye 

The "Curves in Lightroom and Camera Raw" series take the principles from "The Power of Curves" and shows you how to accomplish the same thing within Lightroom using the Tone Curve panel.

Curves in Lightroom and Camera Raw - Part 1 with Michael Frye
Curves in Lightroom and Camera Raw - Part 2 with Michael Frye

That's all for this week.  Next week we'll start with the HSL/Color/B&W panel.

Until next time, keep click'n.


Post a Comment