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Tone Curve

Lesson 5 from: Photo Editing in Lightroom Classic for The Photo Enthusiast

Jared Platt

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Lesson Info

5. Tone Curve

Learn how to use the Tone Curve controls in Lightroom Classic to adjust the contrast in your images as well as how to create unique color effects with the channels in the Tone Curve panel.
Next Lesson: HSL

Lesson Info

Tone Curve

So let's talk about the other global controls that we have and we're talking when we talk about global controls, we're talking about things that we do to the entire image at one time. And so that's everything here below the basic panel tone curve. H Sl color grading details, lens correction, transform effects, calibration, All of this is global. It's happening to the entire photograph. They may be happening to like the blues but it's happening to all the blues. And so let's talk about those for instance, the tone curve. Now in the tone curve, you'll notice that there are quite a few different controls. The first this little squiggly line with a circle around it actually is the most simple version of the tone curve because you see the hissed a gram, you see the curve but then you can utilize these controls, highlights, lights, darks and shadows in order to manipulate that tone curve. So I'm going to click on the lights and bring the lights up in the photograph. I can bring the darks dow...

n or brighten them up. I can take the shadows down so you can see that I can be a lot more subtle about the contrast in my image by using the tone curve so that's something that you can use and this is the easy way to do it. If I right click the tone curve, I can reset the regions and we're back to zero. The next tool that I have is the little circle, the gray circle, which is the entire tone curve and you can see again we've got the instagram but now I can manipulate the actual tone curve much like I would inside of Photoshop so I can brighten everything up a bit. Brighten up the mid tones a little bit and then take the shadows back down. So I can see the curve over the top of my hissed a gram and I'm controlling the curve over the tonality of this image. I'm gonna right click it and reset the channels again and then I can go to red, green or blue. So when I'm on the blue channel, I can simply grab on any part of this curve and simply grab it and drag it more towards blue. And you can see how that I'm, I'm intensifying the blue in the mid tones, but not in the shadows and not in the highlights. Then I can go to the red and I can say, well I just want to intensify, I'm going to put a lock just pin right there in the middle and then I'm gonna bring up the red, see that. I'm just taking it up in the highlights. So the red is actually happening up here in the sky and it's happening down here in the reflection. And so I'm getting a little bit of warmth in that. It's kind of a weird warmth, but it's interesting and so I can do that and then I can bring the shadows back down so that they're getting a little bit more cyan rather than red and then I can go to the greens, green is green or magenta and if I want, I can go to the green which is ugly or I can go to the magenta and give it a little bit more of like a sunset e feel and then I can go back to the blue and the blue. I could change a little bit now that I've started to see the effect I'm starting to create. So I can do the shadows blue and I can take the highlights down and warm them up a little bit. So now see how I'm starting to get some kind of yellow in there, which is helping to create a little bit of orange. So it's actually starting to feel a little bit like a sunset. So I've got the blue and then I've got that warmth coming in and all of that is because of what I've done in the curve. Now I'm not a big fan of what I've just done. So I'm gonna right click it and reset all channels back to zero and now I'm back to normal. But that's what we can do with the curve. And the great thing is that the curve can then be made into a preset in order to save that because the curve is where you'll oftentimes make some kind of an effect that you can just place over the top of anything for instance, let's just go look at something like this image where we've already got the adjustments generally made. And if I go into the tone curve and click on the main tone curve, so not not the sliders, but the actual tone curve of the tonality is not the red, green or blue. And then I can turn this into, let's say, I want to make this into a black and white. So let's go and turn it to black and white and then let's go into the tone curve and I'm going to make this really old looking. So I'm gonna, I'm gonna take the black point and bring it up so that no black can actually exist in this photograph. So it's black equals black is right there at the corner. So now black equals kind of a dark gray and then I'm going to bring down the exposure of the kind of the darker gray area. That's this line here, that's like the, so this is middle gray, right in the middle and then just to the left here would be dark gray. This is black down here, which no longer can exist. It's kind of a dark gray and then the mid tones, I'm gonna let those come down just a little bit but I'm gonna bring the highlights back up just a little bit and then I'm going to go up to the white area and I'm gonna bring the whites down so that it can actually have white. So we're going to have no more white available. So now see how it limits the playing field of black and white and it creates this kind of older look to the photograph. It's very thin looking and this will actually work really well on a portrait. I can also come into the tone curve and click on the red and I could warm up see how I'm I'm toning the image, adding a little bit of warmth to it and then I can go into the blue area and bring it down a little bit. See how I'm creating almost a cyan look to the image. So I'm creating an effect with the tone curve. And once I've done that I can just go over here to the left hand side and make a preset, create a preset, check none and only take the tone curve And by doing that I've just created and let's just call this a black and white warm tone curve. And so I have just created a setting that now is available to me anywhere I go. And so if I want, I can go to any portrait, let's just go to this portrait here and if I turn this to black and white and then I go over to my presets, there's my black and white and boom that looks really nice. So tone curves can make really interesting effects and all you gotta do in is get in there and play because it's pretty easy to see what you're doing and don't be afraid to monkey around with it because you can always just delete whatever you've done and start over. And so we've made a really interesting tone curve effect and I'll make sure that you have access to this in the actual class. So this black and white warm tone curve is now going to be a preset that you have access to because you purchased this class. So those of you who purchased the class, you will have access to it. So let's go back to this image and we have this in black and white. But the great thing about a tone curve is that it also works in color. So I'm going to go back to color and look what it's done to the image. It is absolutely fascinating. Let's turn off the tone curve. So everywhere that you look inside of Lightroom, each one of these little panels has a toggle on it and I'm going to turn off that toggle, that's what it looks like before the tone curve. This is what it looks like after the tone curve and I love it. So I'm gonna have to go over here and rename this preset. So I'm gonna right click it and I'm going to rename it and I'm just going to call this a warm tone curve and then I can say B. W or color and hit OK, because it works for both. So I just renamed your tone curve. So don't go looking for the first one because this is the right one. Um That's awesome. Look at this. Oh that does such cool things to the color. I love what it does to the green. I love what it does and it does it just accidentally because I was working on it in black and white. But you can see how awesome these tone curves are for manipulating your images and creating effects over the top of whatever you've done to the image.

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Ratings and Reviews

Byron Sieber

Jared does an excellent job at taking a subject and breaking it down step by step. He includes great explanations along the way to help you understand why he is doing something. His results, which are great photos, speak for themselves.


Excellent class with great detail on the new Masking tools! Thanks, Jared!

Michael Grosso

Excellent overview of the features included in the most recent upgrade of Adobe Lightroom. Very practical applications are covered at a very good pace. Thank you!

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