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Adjust image color and tone
You can adjust the white balance of a photo to reflect the lighting conditions under which it was taken—daylight, tungsten, flash, and so on.
You can either choose a white balance preset option or click a photo area that you want to specify as a neutral color. Lightroom adjusts the white balance setting, and then you can fine-tune it using the sliders provided.
White balance preset options are available only for raw and DNG photos. White balance for all photos can be edited using the sliders.
In the Basic panel of the Develop module, choose an option from the WB pop-up menu. As Shot uses the camera’s white balance settings, if they are available. Auto calculates the white balance based on the image data.
Lightroom applies the white balance setting and moves the Temp and Tint sliders in the Basic panel accordingly. Use these sliders to fine-tune the color balance. See Fine-tune the white balance using the Temp and Tint controls.
If the camera’s white balance settings are not available, then the Auto option is the default.
Sets the White Balance Selector tool to dismiss automatically after clicking only once in the photo.
Displays a close-up view and the RGB values of a sampling of pixels under the White Balance Selector.
Dismisses the White Balance Selector tool, and the pointer changes to the Hand or Zoom-in tool by default.
The Navigator displays a preview of the color balance as you move the White Balance Selector over different pixels.
Fine-tunes the white balance using the Kelvin color temperature scale. Move the slider to the left to make the photo appear cooler, and right to warm the photo colors.
You can also set a specific Kelvin value in the Temp text box to match the color of the ambient light. Click the current value to select the text box and enter a new value. For example, photographic tungsten lights are often balanced at 3200 Kelvin. If you shoot under photo tungsten lights and set the image temperature to 3200, your photos should appear color balanced.
One of the benefits of working with raw files is that you can adjust the color temperature as if you were changing a setting in a camera during capture, allowing a broad range of settings. When working with JPEG, TIFF, and PSD files, you work in a scale of -100 to 100 rather than the Kelvin scale. Non-raw files such as JPEG or TIFF include the temperate setting in the file, so the temperate scale is more limited.
Fine-tunes the white balance to compensate for a green or magenta tint. Move the slider to the left (negative values) to add green to the photo; move it to the right (positive values) to add magenta.
Tip: If you see a green or magenta color cast in the shadow areas after adjusting the temperature and tint, try removing it by adjusting the Shadows Tint slider in the Camera Calibration panel.
You adjust the overall image tonal scale using the tone controls in the Basic panel. As you work, keep an eye on the end points of the histogram, or use the shadow and highlight clipping previews.
The tone controls that are available depend on whether you are working in Process Version 2012, 2010, or 2003, as noted.
You can increment the slider values by selecting the value and using the Up and Down arrow keys. Double-clicking the slider control resets the value to zero.
(All) Sets the overall image brightness. Adjust the slider until the photo looks good and the image is the desired brightness.
Exposure values are in increments equivalent to aperture values (f‑stops) on your camera. An adjustment of +1.00 is similar to opening the aperture 1 stop. Similarly, an adjustment of –1.00 is similar to closing the aperture 1 stop.
(All) Increases or decreases image contrast, mainly affecting midtones. When you increase contrast, the middle-to-dark image areas become darker, and the middle-to-light image areas become lighter. The image tones are inversely affected as you decrease contrast.
(PV2012) Adjusts bright image areas. Drag to the left to darken highlights and recover “blown out” highlight details. Drag to the right to brighten highlights while minimizing clipping.
(PV2012) Adjusts dark image areas. Drag to the left to darken shadows while minimizing clipping. Drag to the right to brighten shadows and recover shadow details.
(PV2012) Adjusts white clipping. Drag to the left to reduce clipping in highlights. Drag to the right to increase highlight clipping. (Increased clipping may be desirable for specular highlights, such as metallic surfaces.)
(PV2012) Adjusts black clipping. Drag to the left to increase black clipping (map more shadows to pure black). Drag to the right to reduce shadow clipping.
(PV2010 and PV2003) Specifies which image values map to black. Moving the slider to the right increases the areas that become black, sometimes creating the impression of increased image contrast. The greatest effect is in the shadows, with much less change in the midtones and highlights.
(PV2010 and PV2003) Reduces the tones of extreme highlights and attempts to recover highlight detail lost because of camera overexposure. Lightroom can recover detail in raw image files if one or two channels are clipped.
(PV2010 and PV2003) Lightens shadow to reveal more detail while maintaining blacks. Take care not to over apply the setting and reveal image noise.
(PV2010 and PV2003) Adjusts image brightness, mainly affecting midtones. Adjust Brightness after setting Exposure, Recovery, and Blacks sliders. Large brightness adjustments can affect shadow or highlight clipping, so you may want to readjust the Exposure, Recovery, or Blacks slider after adjusting brightness.
A histogram is a representation of the number of pixels in a photo at each luminance percentage. A histogram that stretches from the left side of the panel to the right side indicates a photo that takes full advantage of the tonal scale. A histogram that doesn’t use the full tonal range can result in a dull image that lacks contrast. A histogram with spikes at either end indicates a photo with shadow or highlight clipping. Clipping can result in the loss of image detail.
A histogram is made up of three layers of color that represent the Red, Green, and Blue color channels. Gray appears when all three channels overlap; yellow, magenta, and cyan appear when two of the RGB channels overlap (yellow equals the Red + Green channels, magenta equals the Red + Blue channels, and cyan equals the Green + Blue channels).
In the Develop module, specific areas of the Histogram panel are related to the tone sliders in the Basic panel. You can make adjustments by dragging in the histogram. Your adjustments are reflected in the Basic panel sliders.
The area under the histogram in the Develop module displays the RGB color values for individual pixels appearing under the Hand or Zoom tool when you move it over the photo.
You can use this information to determine whether any areas of the photo are clipped, such as whether an R, G, or B value is 0% black or 100% white. If at least one channel in the clipped area has color, then you might be able to use it to recover some detail in the photo.
You can preview tonal clipping in a photo as you work on it. Clipping is the shifting of pixel values to the highest highlight value or the lowest shadow value. Clipped areas are either completely white or completely black, and have no image detail. You can preview clipped areas as you adjust the tone sliders in the Basic panel.
Clipping indicators are located at the top of the Histogram panel in the Develop module. The black (shadow) clipping indicator is on the left, and the white (highlight) indicator is on the right.
- Move the Blacks slider and watch the black clipping indicator. Move the Recovery or Whites sliders and watch the white clipping indicator. An indicator turns white when clipping in all channels occurs. A colored clipping indicator means one or two channels are clipped.
- To preview clipping in the photo, move the mouse over
the clipping indicator. Click the indicator to keep the preview
Clipped black areas in the photo become blue, and clipped white areas become red.
- To view clipped image ares for each channel, press Alt
(Windows) or Option (Mac OS) while moving a slider in the
Basic panel of the Develop module.
For the Recovery and Whites sliders, the image turns black, and clipped areas appear white. For the Blacks slider, the image turns white and clipped areas appear black. Colored areas indicate clipping in one color channel (red, green, blue) or two color channels (cyan, magenta, yellow).
Adds depth to an image by increasing local contrast. When using this setting, it is best to zoom in to 100% or greater. To maximize the effect, increase the setting until you see halos near the edge details of the image, and then reduce the setting slightly.
Adjusts the saturation so that clipping is minimized as colors approach full saturation, changing the saturation of all lower-saturated colors with less effect on the higher-saturated colors. Vibrance also prevents skin tones from becoming over saturated.
Adjusts the saturation of all image colors equally from –100 (monochrome) to +100 (double the saturation).
The graph in the Tone Curve panel of the Develop module represents changes made to the tonal scale of a photo. The horizontal axis represents the original tone values (input values), with black on the left and progressively lighter values toward the right. The vertical axis represents the changed tone values (output values), with black on the bottom and lighter values progressing to white at the top. Use the tone curve to tweak the adjustments you make to a photo in the Basic panel.
If a point on the curve moves up, it becomes a lighter tone; if it moves down, it becomes darker. A straight, 45-degree line indicates no changes to the tonal scale: The original input values exactly match the output values. You may see a tone curve that isn’t straight when you first view a photo that you haven’t adjusted. This initial curve reflects default adjustments that Lightroom applied to your photo during import.
The Darks and Lights sliders affect mainly the middle region of the curve. The Highlight and Shadows sliders affect mainly the ends of the tonal range.
To make adjustments to the tone curve, do any of the following:
Click on the curve and drag up or down. As you drag, the affected region is highlighted and the related slider moves. The original and new tonal values are displayed in the upper-left of the tone curve.
Drag any of the four Region sliders left or right. As you drag, the curve moves within the affected region (Highlights, Lights, Darks, Shadows). The region is highlighted in the tone curve graph. To edit curve regions, drag the split controls at the bottom of the tone curve graph.
Click to select the Targeted Adjustment tool in the upper-left of the Tone Curve panel and then click on an area in the photo that you want to adjust. Drag or press the Up and Down Arrow keys to lighten or darken the values for all similar tones in the photo.
Choose an option from the Point Curve menu: Linear, Medium Contrast, or Strong Contrast. The setting is reflected in the curve but not in the region sliders.
Note: The Point Curve menu is blank for photos imported with metadata and previously edited with the Adobe Camera Raw tone curve.
To make adjustments to individual points on the tone curve, choose an option from the Point Curve menu, click the Edit Point Curve button , and do any of the following:
Choose an option from the Channel pop-up menu. You can edit all three channels at once, or choose to edit the Red, Green, or Blue channel individually.
Click to add a point.
Right-click (Windows) or Control-click (Mac OS) and choose Delete Control Point to remove a point.
Drag a point to edit it.
To return to a linear curve at any time, right-click (Windows) or Control-click (Mac OS) anywhere in the graph and choose Flatten Curve.
Use the HSL and Color panels in the Develop module to adjust individual color ranges in your photo. For example, if a red object looks too vivid and distracting, you can adjust it using the Saturation slider for Red. Note that all similar reds in the photo will be affected.
The adjustments you make in the HSL and Color panels produce similar results, but the two panels organize the sliders in different ways. To open a panel, click its name in the HSL/Color/B&W panel header.
The slides in these panels work on specific color ranges:
Changes the color. For example, you can change a blue sky (and all other blue objects) from cyan to purple.
Changes the color vividness or purity of the color. For instance, you can change a blue sky from gray to highly saturated blue.
- In the HSL panel, select Hue, Saturation, Luminance, or All to display the sliders you want to work with.
Drag the sliders or enter values in the text boxes to the right of the sliders.
Click the Targeted Adjustment tool in the upper-left of the panel, move the pointer over an area in the photo that you want to adjust, and then click the mouse. Drag the pointer, or press the Up and Down Arrow keys to make the adjustment.
Video tutorial: HSL and color adjustments
Lightroom uses two camera profiles for every camera model it supports to process raw images. The profiles are produced by photographing a color target under different white-balanced lighting conditions. When you set a white balance, Lightroom uses the profiles for your camera to extrapolate color information. These camera profiles are the same ones developed for Adobe Camera Raw. They are not ICC color profiles.
You can adjust how Lightroom interprets the color from your camera by using the controls in the Camera Calibration panel and saving the changes as a preset. You may find it useful to photograph a standard color target under the lighting you want to calibrate.
Sets the profile to use for your camera.
These profiles are compatible with older versions of Camera Raw and Lightroom. The version corresponds to the version of Camera Raw in which the profile first appeared. Choose an ACR profile if you want consistent behavior with legacy photos.
These profiles significantly improve color rendering, especially in warm tones such as reds, yellows, and oranges, from earlier Adobe camera profiles. The Profile pop-up menu displays only one Adobe Standard profile for your camera.
These profiles attempt to match the camera manufacturer’s color appearance under specific settings. Use a Camera matching profile if you prefer the color rendering offered by your camera manufacturer’s software. Camera Matching profiles include the prefix Camera in the profile name.
Indicates that the current file (a TIFF, JPEG, or PSD photo) has an embedded profile.
note: Adobe Standard and Camera matching profiles are based on the DNG 1.2 specification. If they do not appear in the Profile pop-up menu, download latest Lightroom update at www.adobe.com/go/downloads.
Red, Green, and Blue Primary
The Hue and Saturation sliders adjust the red, green, and blue in the photo. In general, adjust the hue first, and then adjust its saturation. Moving the Hue slider to the left (negative value) is similar to a counterclockwise move on the color wheel; moving it to the right (positive value) is similar to a clockwise move. Moving the Saturation slider to the left (negative value) desaturates the color; moving it to the right (positive value) increases saturation.
You can also customize camera profiles using the standalone DNG Profile Editor utility. The free DNG Profile Editor and documentation for it are available for download at DNG Profiles - Adobe Labs.
Leave the Camera Calibration panel sliders set to 0 when adjusting camera profiles with the DNG Profile Editor.
You can save new camera raw defaults for each camera model. Change preference options to determine whether the camera serial number and ISO settings are included in the defaults.
In Presets preferences, you can choose Reset Default Develop Settings to revert to the original settings.
Work in grayscale
Black & White Mix in the B&W panel converts color images to monochrome grayscale images, providing control over how individual colors convert to gray tones.
- In the HSL/Color/B&W panel, darken or lighten the gray tones that represent colors in the original photo.
Drag the individual color sliders to adjust the gray tone for all similar colors in the original photo.
Click Auto to set a grayscale mix that maximizes the distribution of gray tones. Auto often produces excellent results that can be used as a starting point for tweaking gray tones using the sliders.
Click the Targeted Adjustment tool in the upper-left of the B&W panel, move the pointer over an area of the photo you want to adjust, and click the mouse. Drag the tool, or press the Up and Down Arrow keys, to lighten or darken the grays for all similarly colored areas of the original photo.
To apply grayscale mix automatically when converting photos to grayscale, select the Apply Auto Mix When First Converting To Black And White in the Presets area of the Preferences dialog box.
Use the sliders in the Split Toning panel to color a grayscale photo. You can add one color throughout the tonal range, such as a sepia effect, or create a split tone effect in which a different color is applied to the shadows and the highlights. The extreme shadows and highlights remain black and white.
You can also apply special effects, such as a cross-processed look, to a color photo.
Grayscale mode images from Photoshop have no color data, but you can make tonal adjustments to them in Lightroom using the tone adjustments in the Basic panel or Tone Curve panel. You can also apply color toning effects using the options in the Split Toning panel. Lightroom handles the photo as an RGB image and exports it as RGB.