Color Temperature

Lightroom Color Temperature (or Colour Temperature if you spell correctly!)

“Andy – why the heck is Lightrooms temperature slider the wrong way around?”

That’s a question that I used to get asked quite a lot, and it’s started again since I mentioned it in passing a couple of posts ago.

The short answer is “IT ISN”T….it’s just you who doesn’t understand what it is and how it functions”.

But in order to give the definitive answer I feel the need to get back to basics though – so here goes.

The Spectrum Locus

Let’s get one thing straight from the start – LOCUS is just a posh word for PATH!

Visible light is just part of the electro-magnetic energy spectrum typically between 380nm (nanometers) and 700nm:

%name Color Temperature

In the first image below is what’s known as the Spectrum Locus – as defined by the CIE (Commission Internationale de l´Eclairage or International Commission on Illumination).

In a nutshell the locus represents the range of colors visible to the human eye – or I should say chromaticities:

1200px CIE1931xy blank Color Temperature

The blue numbers around the locus are simply the nanometer values from that same horizontal scale above. The reasoning behind the unit values of the x and y axis are complex and irrelevant to us in this post, otherwise it’ll go on for ages.

The human eye is a fickle thing.

It will always perceive, say, 255 green as being lighter than 255 red or 255 blue, and 255 blue as being the darkest of the three.  And the same applies to any value of the three primaries, as long as all three are the same.

perception Color Temperature

This stems from the fact that the human eye has around twice the response to green light as it does red or blue – crazy but true.  And that’s why your camera sensor – if it’s a Bayer type – has twice the number of green photosites on it as red or blue.

In rather over-simplified terms the CIE set a standard by which all colors in the visible spectrum could be expressed in terms of ‘chromaticity’ and ‘brightness’.

Brightness can be thought of as a grey ramp from black to white.

Any color space is a 3 dimensional shape with 3 axes x, y and z.

Z is the grey ramp from black to white, and the shape is then defined by the colour positions in terms of their chromaticity on the x and y axes, and their brightness on the z axis:

adobeRGB1998 Color Temperature

But if we just take the chromaticity values of all the colours visible to the human eye we end up with the CIE1931 spectrum locus – a two dimensional plot if you like, of the ‘perceived’ color space of human vision.

Now here’s where the confusion begins for the majority of ‘uneducated photographers’ – and I mean that in the nicest possible way, it’s not a dig!

Below is the same spectrum locus with an addition:

PlanckianLocus Color Temperature

This additional TcK curve is called the Planckian Locus, or dark body locus.  Now please don’t give up here folks, after all you’ve got this far, but it’ll get worse before it gets better!

The Planckian Locus simply represents the color temperature in degrees Kelvin of the colour emitted by a ‘dark body’ – think lump of pure carbon – as it is heated.  Its color temperature begins to visibly rise as its thermal temperature rises.

Up to a certain thermal temperature it’ll stay visibly black, then it will begin to glow a deep red.  Warm it up some more and the red color temperature turns to orange, then yellow and finally it will be what we can call ‘white hot’.

So the Planckian Locus is the 2D chromaticity plot of the colours emitted by a dark body as it is heated.

Here’s point of confusion number 1: do NOT jump to the conclusion that this is in any way a greyscale. “Well it starts off BLACK and ends up WHITE” – I’ve come across dozens of folk who think that – as they say, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing indeed!

What the Planckian Locus IS indicative of though is WHITE POINT.

Our commonly used colour management white points of D65, D55 and D50 all lie along the Planckian Locus, as do all the other CIE standard illumimant types of which there’s more than few.

The standard monitor calibration white point of D65 is actually 6500 Kelvin – it’s a standardized classification for ‘mean Noon Daylight’, and can be found on the Spectrum Locus/Plankckian Locus at 0.31271x, 0.32902y.

D55 or 5500 Kelvin is classed as Mid Morning/Mid Afternoon Daylight and can be found at 0.33242x, 0.34743y.

D50 or 5000 kelvin is classed as Horizon Light with co-ordinates of 0.34567x, 0.35850.

But we can also equate Planckian Locus values to our ‘picture taking’ in the form of white balance.

FACT: The HIGHER the color temperature the BLUER the light, and lower color temperatures shift from blue to yellow, then orange (studio type L photofloods 3200K), then more red (standard incandescent bulb 2400K) down to candle flame at around 1850K).  Sunset and sunrise are typically standardized at 1850K and LPS Sodium street lights can be as low as 1700K.

And a clear polar sky can be upwards of 27,000K – now there’s blue for you!

And here’s where we find confusion point number 2!

Take a look at this shot taken through a Lee Big Stopper:

2 Color Temperature

I’m an idle git and always have my camera set to a white balance of Cloudy B1, and here I’m shooting through a filter that notoriously adds a pretty severe bluish cast to an image anyway.

If you look at the TEMP and TINT sliders you will see Cloudy B1 is interpreted by Lightroom as 5550 Kelvin and a tint of +5 – that’s why the notation is ‘AS SHOT’.

Officially a Cloudy white balance is anywhere between 6000 Kelvin and 10,000 kelvin depending on your definition, and I’ve stuck extra blue in there with the Cloudy B1 setting, which will make the effective temperature go up even higher.

So either way, you can see that Lightrooms idea of 5550 Kelvin is somewhat ‘OFF’ to say the least, but it’s irrelevant at this juncture.

Where the real confusion sets in is shown in the image below:

1 Color Temperature

“Andy, now you’ve de-blued the shot why is the TEMP slider value saying 8387 Kelvin ? Surely it should be showing a value LOWER than 5550K – after all, tungsten is warm and 3200K”….

How right you are…..and wrong at the same time!

What Lightroom is saying is that I’ve added YELLOW to the tune of 8387-5550 or 2837.

FACT – the color temperature controls in Lightroom DO NOT work by adjusting the Planckian or black body temperature of light in our image.  They are used to COMPENSATE for the recorded Planckian/black body temperature.

If you load in image in the develop module of Lightroom and use any of the preset values, the value itself is ball park correct(ish).

The Daylight preset loads values of 5500K and +10. The Shade preset will jump to 7500K and +10, and Tungsten will drop to 2850K and +/-0.

But the Tungsten preset puts the TEMP slider in the BLUE part of the slider Blue/Yellow graduated scale, and the Shade preset puts the slider in the YELLOW side of the scale, thus leading millions of people into mistakenly thinking that 7500K is warmer/yellower than 2850K when it most definitely is NOT!

This kind of self-induced bad learning leaves people wide open to all sorts of misunderstandings when it comes to other aspects of color theory and color management.

My advice has always been the same, just ignore the numbers in Lightroom and do your adjustments subjectively – do what looks right!

But for heaven sake don’t try and build an understanding of color temperature based on the color balance control values in Lightroom – otherwise you get in one heck of a mess.

2009 Mac Pro GPU Upgrade

2009 Mac Pro GPU Upgrade

I’ve just had to spend some money and do a 2009 Mac Pro GPU Upgrade, mainly because of Photoshops new ‘Select and Mask” interface.

D4D6816 600x400 2009 Mac Pro GPU Upgrade

Ever since this new workspace was introduced it has caused me no end of problems with brush lag and general ‘hanging’.

And the fact that I need to run screen capture software at the same time, in order to feed the Tube of You, meant that for the last month Uncle Andy’s been unhappy..

For the last couple of months I’ve been toying with adding more RAM to the machine, so last week I sprung £200 at Mac Upgrades for 32GB of OWC RAM to replace the 16GB of Crucial that I installed a couple of years ago.

There’s nothing like the assembly of wide-field astro shots from a 36Mp camera to point out weaknesses in RAM capacity!

But the Select and Mask workspace in Photoshop show diddly-squat of an improvement with doubling the RAM.  It wasn’t until I happened across a note by Scott Kelby where he noted that this new workspace was totally GPU dependent.  No mention of this on anything from Adobe that I could see.

Now the thought of buying a new GPU for Mac should fill anyone with dread over the lightness of their wallet after the purchase.

Mac GPU’s are thin on the ground, of limited spec and HUGELY over-priced.

Mac Upgrades offer “flashed” PC GPU’s – AMD Radeons at an appalling £264 for a 2GB; that’s just daylight robbery in my opinion.

Flashing a mac-suitable PC GPU serves one single purpose – you can see your boot screen at start-up.

My boot screen lasts for about 7 seconds with my existing SSD system drive and the 64GB of new RAM – so I’m not so bothered about seeing it, especially if it can save me money AND steer me away from Radeon and on to an Nvidia chipset.

Opting for an Nvidia chipset allows a greater choice of GPU specification and performance.

So I’ve spent the last few days getting my head around the technicals, and they really are quite simple.

The PCIe slots in a 2009 Mac Pro 4,1 are only capable of supplying 75 watts of power.  However, lurking on the board are TWO mini PCIe 6 pin auxiliary power connectors, each capable of delivering 75 watts each.

So if you purchase a couple of these:

Apple Mac Pro mini pci-e 6pin to pci-e 6pin video card power cable

you can effectively drive a mac-compatible GPU requiring 3x 75, or 225 watts total of power.

And so I came up with this baby!

Screen Shot 2016 08 24 at 14.47.53 copy 2009 Mac Pro GPU Upgrade

4GB – not 2GB, and £179 not £264 – and it only requires 150 watts of power.

So this very morning made a trip to Overclockers in Newcastle under Lyme and once back in the office it took less than 15 minutes to have the 2009 Mac Pro GPU Upgrade done and working.

D4D6802 900x599 2009 Mac Pro GPU Upgrade

Just look at this bad boy in comparison to the GT120 it’s replacing – at least 8 times as useful!

If you fancy doing this to your Mac Pro 4,1 then there are a few things you need to do before you make your decision:

  1. Visit this page at Abobe to check for Lightroom GPU compatibility.
  2. IMPORTANT – you must download and install the Nvidia WEB DRIVERS from HERE if you are still running Yosemite or HERE if you are using El Capitan. You MUST do this BEFORE you turn your machine off to begin the upgrade – if you don’t you might be stuck with a machine that doesn’t turn the monitor on!

Install the downloaded web drivers and you will see the Nvidia drive manager icon at the top of your screen – click it and select driver manger preferences:

Screen Shot 2016 08 24 at 15.13.47 2009 Mac Pro GPU Upgrade

 

 

 

Why do I have to do this Andy?

The Mac OS has it’s own versions of Nvidia drivers (amongst others) but these are fairly crap, inefficient and far from up to date, and almost definitely won’t recognise you new GPU correctly.

Once you have checked that those web drivers are installed and up to date you should be clear to do your 2009 Mac Pro GPU Upgrade.

Once done you can power the machine on; you’ll hear the start-up chime but the screen will stay black for the time the boot screen would have been active – the screen will activate at either your account log in page if you have your machine set up that way, or it’ll go straight to your desktop.

Screen Shot 2016 08 24 at 16.19.33 2009 Mac Pro GPU UpgradeAnd there you are – one 2009 Mac Pro GPU Upgrade – DONE.

Now for some Adobe application setup.

Screen Shot 2016 08 24 at 15.36.47 900x677 2009 Mac Pro GPU Upgrade

  1. Fire up Lightroom and go to the preferences panel.
  2. Activate ‘Use Graphics Processor’.
  3. Click the ‘System Info’ button and check that the card is listed and is functioning properly:

Screen Shot 2016 08 24 at 15.37.23 2009 Mac Pro GPU Upgrade

Next, fire up Photoshop and go to Preferences>Performance:

Screen Shot 2016 08 24 at 15.38.34 2009 Mac Pro GPU Upgrade

 

 

 

Check ‘Use Graphics Processor’ and click the ADVANCED button:

You will see three options; Basic, Normal & Advanced.  It will most likely be defaulted to Basic.  I’ve selected advanced here but may have to change it ‘down’ if there is any fall-off in performance.

One final and very important item on the agenda, re-calibrate your monitor.

That’s it, a new lease of life given to a venerable old 2009 machine.

Apple is supposed to be dropping support for the 2009 Mac Pro 4,1 on the official launch of OSX 10.12 Sierra.

I’m not that bothered at the moment, it’s taken me up until July of this year to feel the need for 10.11 El Capitan – and that was only due to screw-ups with recent Adobe CC installers.

But sometime in the next 12 months I might avail myself of a Mac Pro 5,x.  This new 4GB GPU will transfer direct to that and I’ll turn this Mac Pro 4,1 into an image server – at least that’s what I’m telling myself !

IMPORTANT:  The procedure outlined here worked wonderfully for me – simple and fast.  But it might not go the same for you – I accept NO responsibility for any f***ed up equipment that might occur outside these office walls!

 

Good Contrast Control in Lightroom CC

Contrast Control in Lightroom

Learning how to deploy proper contrast control in Lightroom brings with it two major benefits:

  • It allows you to reveal more of your camera sensors dynamic range.
  • It will allow you to reveal considerably more image detail.

ContrastControl Good Contrast Control in Lightroom CC

I have posted on this subject before, under the guise of neutralising Lightrooms ‘hidden background adjustments’.  But as Lightroom CC 2015 evolves, trying to ‘nail’ the best way of doing something becomes like trying to hit a moving target.

For the last few months I’ve been using this (for me) new method – and to be honest it works like a charm!

It involves the use of the ‘zero’ preset together with a straight process version swap around, as illustrated in the before/after shot above and in the video linked below.  This video is best viewed on my YouTube channel:

The process might seem a little tedious at first, but it’s really easy when you get used to it, and it works on ALL images from ALL cameras.

Here is a step-by-step guide to the various Lightroom actions you need to take in order to obtain good contrast control:

Contrast Control Workflow Steps:

1. Develop Module Presets: Choose ZEROED
2. Camera Calibration Panel: Choose CAMERA NEUTRAL
3. Camera Calibration Panel: Choose Process Version 2010
4. Camera Calibration Panel: Choose Process Version 2012
5. Basics Panel: Double Click Exposure (goes from -1 to 0)
6. Basics Panel: Adjust Black Setting to taste if needed.
7. Details Panel: Reset Sharpening to default +25
8. Details Panel: Reset Colour Noise to default +25
9. Lens Corrections Panel: Tick Remove Chromatic Aberration.

Now that you’ve got good contrast control you can set about processing your image – just leave the contrast slider well alone!

Why is contrast control important, and why does it ‘add’ so much to my images Andy?

We are NOT really reducing the contrast of the raw file we captured.  We are simply reducing the EXCESSIVE CONTRAST that Lightroom ADDS to our files.

  • Lightroom typically ADDS a +33 contrast adjustment but ‘calls it’ ZERO.
  • Lightroom typically ADDS a medium contrast tone curve but ‘calls it’ LINEAR.

Both of this are contrast INCREASES, and any increase in contrast can be seen as a ‘compression’ of the tonal space between BLACK and WHITE.  This is a dynamic range visualisation killer because it crushes the ends of the midtone range.

It’s also a detail killer, because 99% of the subject detail is in the mid tone range.  Typically the Lightroom tonal curve range for midtones is 25% to 75%, but Lightroom is quite happy to accept a midtone range of 10% to 90% – check those midtone arrow adjusters at the bottom edge of the parametric tone curve!

I hope you find this post useful folks, and don’t forget to watch the video at full resolution on my YouTube Channel.

 

Lightroom Instagram Plugin

instag Lightroom Instagram PluginLightroom Instagram Plugin

Even though I suppose I am rather tech-savvy for an old fart, I have major head-problems with most social media.

Facebook took me years to get the hang of..

And even though I have an account, followers and everything I simply CANNOT get my head around Twitter …. it makes NO f***ing sense to me at all!

Over the last year I’ve also been aware of the growing use by professional of this other “thing” called Instagram.

About two months ago I asked my son Richard to explain how it works:

“It’s simple Dad, it’s Twitter for images”………..I couldn’t work out who to shoot first, me or him.

But, after much grief I was eventually shown how to put an image on Instagram.  I have an iPhone and an iPad but bare in mind it took me ages to work out how to put pictures on them.

And ALL mobile apps confound the hell out of me – so overly-simplified I find them difficult to use and I run out of patience!

So here I am looking at Instagram and seeing that I have to send an image to my iPad then I can upload it to Instagram – WTF????

I put a single image on there – it took me at least 30 minutes, and Rich was pissing himself laughing which didn’t help!

I tried a couple of programmes that were supposed to help put images on Instagram from a desktop machine, but they turned out to be more bloody complicated than the iPad method.

Needless to say I put Instagram on the back-burner.

BUT………………..someone has done something EPIC.  They’ve made a Lightroom Instagram Plugin – and it works!

It’s called LR/Instagram and you can download it HERE

LRInst Lightroom Instagram Plugin

Simply click the download link, unzip the the file and copy the LRInstagram.lrplugin file to your Lightroom plug-ins folder.

Open up your Lightroom Plug-in Manager and click “ADD” then navigate to the file itself

lrinst2 Lightroom Instagram Plugin

and click Add Plug-in.

The plug-in will appear under Publish Services in the bottom left panel of your Library Module.

Lrinst3 Lightroom Instagram Plugin

Click “Set Up”

Assuming you’ve actually got an Instagram account (if not then get one) all you need to do is fill in your account U/N and P/W and click Login:

Lrinst4 Lightroom Instagram Plugin

Once logged into your account you need to set the export preferences – I actually leave them set as above (default) with added standard screen sharpening and a custom watermark.

Simply click ‘Save’ and you’re done!

Using the Lightroom Instagram Plugin is easy if you are used to any of the other publish services inside Lightroom, but if you want to see it in action here is a short video on my YouTube channel – if you are viewing this post via email then the video will not show up – read it on the blog itself

This Lightroom Instagram Plugin seems to work flawlessly and definitely speeds up and simplifies publish images to Instagram – all I need to do now is work out an effective hash-tag method!

Lightroom Folders Panel

Lightroom Folders Panel

cc2015.6 1 Lightroom Folders PanelI find a lot of people are either confused or just plain unsure of what functions you can carry out in the Lightroom folders panel.

All Lightroom users should be familiar with the perennial problem of missing files, folders or drives from their Lightroom Catalogue, as indicated by the “!” exclamation mark in the top right corner of their image thumbnails.

Adobe really hack me off – for ages Lightroom indicated “missing” files with a question mark on the thumbnail.  But in their infinite wisdom they changed that to an exclamation mark (of course, still keeping the question mark in the Folders Panel!) just to confuse the bejesus out of everyone.  So now we have TWO TYPES of exclamation mark, each with a different meaning – nice one chaps……………….

Screen Shot 2016 07 12 at 11.15.50 Lightroom Folders Panel

With the exception of disconnected drives, missing files and folders are usually the result of moving files and folders via Windows Explorer on PC or Finder on the Mac.

And I find that in the majority of cases folk are just simply unaware that the same operations can be carried out within Lightroom via the Lightroom Folders Panel.

  • We can move files between folders.
  • We can move folders between drives.
  • And we can create new hierarchical folder structures on any attached drive.

All with the added bonuses of:

  1. Not leaving the Lightroom GUI.
  2. Lightroom does NOT loose the file/folder locations, so we avoid the dreaded “!” problem!

So I have created a couple of video lessons on YouTube:

If you are viewing this post via subscription email the please view the physical blog post – sometimes the video links do not show up in the emails.

Hopefully these two short lessons will enable you to understand the folder structure and placement options available to you via the Lightroom Folders Panel.

 

The Guided Upright Tool in Lightroom CC 2015.6

Guided Upright Tool in Lightroom CC 2015.6

cc2015.6 The Guided Upright Tool in Lightroom CC 2015.6

Important – if you are reading this post about the new Guided Upright Tool via subscription email PLEASE view it directly on the blog instead.

Guided Upright The Guided Upright Tool in Lightroom CC 2015.6

Yesterday Adobe released updates for Lightroom CC 2015, Lightroom 6 (non CC) and Photoshop CC2015.

These updates reconciled a few bug fixes and added new camera support BUT, Lr CC subscribers got themselves a new tool – yeah!

And what a useful tool it is – the Guided Upright Tool.

Below you’ll see a video of me showing how to deploy the tool, but basically it makes a damn fine job of getting rid of awkward and complex distortions from wide angle lenses that I’ve always had to resort to fixing with the Photoshop Warp Tool.

Firstly, lets take a look at the develop module panel where it lives:

cc2015.6 2 The Guided Upright Tool in Lightroom CC 2015.6

Compared to the old Lens Correction Panel in previous versions of Lightroom:

2015.5 The Guided Upright Tool in Lightroom CC 2015.6

As you can see from the comparison image at the top of the page, this tool does a fine job of quickly and effectively removing the skewed field curvature from the lighthouse – watch the video below on how I did this – really simple!

You might want to click the YouTube link at the bottom of the video to view at full size.

Caveats:

Something I forgot to stress in the video – you MUST check the ENABLE PROFILE CORRECTIONS in the lens corrections panel in order for the Guided Upright Tool to function.

You can only use a maximum of 4 lines, so choose them wisely!

When you add a third or fourth line you MAY get a warning “ ! Invalid Guide Configuration” – if you do, simply hit the backspace/delete key to remove the line causing the conflict.

Because the resulting correction can result in a major ‘crop’ to the image, you may loose vital pixels and end up with a less than desirable composition.

Plus Points:

Fast, effective and a time-saver; giving you the ability to correct for distorted horizontals and vertical at the same time.

I rate this as one of the best tools Adobe have added to Lightroom in ages, though I can’t give it 10/10 because we end up with a cropped image, and as I hinted at earlier, there are ways to do this in Photoshop that maintain ALL the pixels in the image.

 

 

Lightroom – Neutralise Hidden Exposure Compensation

Lightroom – Neutralise Hidden Exposure Compensation.

We all know how good Lightroom is – but it’s also a total pain in the arse!

Ages ago, I did a post about Lightroom 5 and accurate colour HERE and, according to this blogs page-view stats, that post still gets a large global viewing figure every month – so it’s something of an on-going problem for a lot of users.

But things have moved on a bit since then, and we are now working with the v5 release of Lightroom 6/CC 2015 – and things haven’t got any better, sadly, from the perspective of actually “seeing what you captured”.

The problem lies in the fact that Lightroom, for a long time, ceased to be a “neutral” RAW handler.  It uses a variety of ‘behind the scenes’ algorithms to add what it thinks are good adjustments in terms of exposure brightness and contrast.  In other words Lightroom adds hidden adjustments which we cannot see because they are not registered on the adjustment sliders under process version 2012.

Why does it do this – God only knows!

But when I take into account the support Lightroom currently offers for mobile phone cameras, cloud synch etc, I can’t help thinking that Adobe are trying to give Lightroom some sort of mass-market appeal by adding what the designers and coders think is some sort of WOW-factor to image previews – though I might be wrong!

But whatever Adobes reasoning, the fact remains that SOME OF US want to see our raw files for what they are – straight gamma 2.2 encoded versions of what the sensor recorded.  Only by learning how to Neutralise Hidden Exposure Compensation  can we actually arrive at a suitable starting point for the development process.

The Case To Answer

Firstly, a lot of you might be wondering WTF I’m ranting on about – your RAW image previews look great before you start doing anything to them – mmmmm….

If that’s the case then NEWS FLASH – RAW files should look as flat as dish-water pre-process, and you have do some work to make them look good.  So believe me, if your raws look “nice ‘n punchy” from the get-go then something is wrong somewhere!

Out there in photography land there are two RAW file handlers that are notorious for being “neutral” in their initial raw render – Raw Digger, and Iridient Developer.

Let me demonstrate the “case to answer” by using the same image I used the other day when giving Canon an indirect slagging off over lossless compression:

FW1Q1351 2 600x400 Lightroom   Neutralise Hidden Exposure Compensation

Raw file opened in Lightroom with no user adjustments BUT WITH Lightroom ‘hidden exposure compensation’.

Now let’s open the same file in Raw Digger:

RawDigger Lightroom   Neutralise Hidden Exposure Compensation

Raw file opened in Raw Digger with no user adjustments.

And now in Iridient Developer:

IridientDev Lightroom   Neutralise Hidden Exposure Compensation

Raw file opened in Iridient Developer with no user adjustments.

And now, just for good measure, my Lightroom-processed version of the image:

FW1Q1351 600x400 Lightroom   Neutralise Hidden Exposure Compensation

Raw file processed in Lightroom WITH user adjustments.

Both RAW Digger and Iridient Developer give the user a much better processing start point simply because they are neutral and don’t go about making contrast-loaded ‘background adjustments’.  And I’m sure you can see that the final Lightroom processed version of the image bares more resemblance to the RAW Digger and Iridient screen grabs than the Lightroom ‘as is’ preview.

Now if you are a total maniac then you can go and download either of the two aforementioned raw developers and get yourself super-confused or you can learn how to ‘neutralise’ the Lightroom background adjustment ‘crap’ – which is far easier!

How to Neutralise Hidden Exposure Compensation in Lightroom.

Step 1.  Scroll down to the Camera Calibration Panel in the Develop module and switch the Process Version from PV2012 to PV 2010:

Step1 600x375 Lightroom   Neutralise Hidden Exposure Compensation

Step 1 in Neutralising Lightroom Hidden Exposure Compensation.

Step 2.  Scroll up to the Basics panel (a very different looking one if you never used Lightroom 3!) and make the following changes:

  1. Blacks from 5 to 0
  2. Brightness from +50 to 0
  3. Contrast from +25 to 0
Step 2 600x375 Lightroom   Neutralise Hidden Exposure Compensation

Step 2 in Neutralising Lightroom Hidden Exposure Compensation.

Step 3.  Move to the Tone Curve and change the Medium Contrast tone curve to Linear:

Step 3 600x375 Lightroom   Neutralise Hidden Exposure Compensation

Step 3 in Neutralising Lightroom Hidden Exposure Compensation.

DO NOT concern yourself with the fact that your image has gone dark and flat, it’s to be expected!

Step 4.  Scroll back down to Camera Calibration and switch the process version BACK to PV2012, then scroll back up to the Basics Panel:

Step 4 600x375 Lightroom   Neutralise Hidden Exposure Compensation

Step 4 in Neutralising Lightroom Hidden Exposure Compensation.

Step 5.  Yes I know it still looks awful, but if you now change that -1EV to 0 on the exposure slider you’ll get a great process start image:

Step 5 600x375 Lightroom   Neutralise Hidden Exposure Compensation

Step 5 in Neutralising Lightroom Hidden Exposure Compensation.

Looking at the before and after images you can see that we have got contrast under control – in other words we have removed the excess contrast added to the image with the  Lightroom hidden background shenanigans.

Indeed, we can see exactly how much contrast has been removed with this ‘by the numbers’ process by looking at the -33 Contrast value – DO NOT RESET THIS BACK TO 0!!!!

The process has decreased contrast still further by lifting the Blacks value to +25.  You need to check the shadow areas on the image in this respect.  If they are looking a bit noisy (Hello Canon!) you might want to drop the blacks value to maybe +5 to +10 and open the shadows a bit more with a small positive adjustment to the Shadows slider in the basics panel.

And so processing is just a matter of a few subjective tweaks until I’m happy with the image:

Final 600x375 Lightroom   Neutralise Hidden Exposure Compensation

Click to view larger image.

In the Tone Curve panel you can see the multi-point Custom Curve the process has added.  If you click the up/down arrows to the right of the word Custom you will see a menu giving you the option to save the curve:

SaveCurve Lightroom   Neutralise Hidden Exposure Compensation

Saving the custom curve.

I save the curve with the name 2010to2012 – by default it saves as an .xmp file, and to the user/Library/Application Support/Adobe/CameraRaw/Curves file path (Mac).

Saving the curve is useful as it makes for a very quick adjustment of further images.

However, there is a caveat (isn’t there always!) and it’s this:

The majority of  adjustments in Lightroom are specific to camera sensor and ISO.  In simple terms the same numeric value of adjustment to any control slider can have differing effects depending on the sensor it was made by and the ISO at which it was shot.  It’s very important that you wrap your head around this fact.

The curve I’ve produced here is correct for a Canon 1DX at the shot ISO which was 1000 or 800 if my memory serves correctly.  I could apply this curve to a 100 ISO image shot with a Nikon D800E, and it would do a good job, but I might get a slightly better result if I go through the whole process again to produce a custom curve for the D800E using a 100 ISO shot to begin with.  But even if that new curve visually gives a different result it will still have the same numeric values in the basics panel!

If I save the curve and then apply it to another image via the Tone Curve panel the contrast and blacks Basic Panel values do NOT change – but you will get a better distribution of contrast.

You may want to generate and save at least a low and high ISO variant of the curve for each of your camera bodies; or you could be a smart-arse like me by just using one curve and eye-balling the finer tweaks.

You can also create the curve and then save the settings as a User Develop Preset and then apply it to future imports via the import module.

So there you have it, how to Neutralise Hidden Exposure Compensation in Lightroom and see you images properly – have fun folks!

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