Adjust image color and tone

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Set the white balance

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.

Choose a white balance preset option

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.

Specify a neutral area in the photo

  1. In the Basic panel of the Develop module, click the White Balance Selector tool  to select it, or press the W key.
  2. Move the White Balance Selector into an area of the photo that should be a neutral light gray. Avoid spectral highlights or areas that are 100% white.
  3. Set options in the toolbar as needed.

    Auto Dismiss

    Sets the White Balance Selector tool to dismiss automatically after clicking only once in the photo.

    Show Loupe

    Displays a close-up view and the RGB values of a sampling of pixels under the White Balance Selector.

    Scale Slider

    Zooms the close-up view in the Loupe.


    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.

  4. When you find an appropriate area, click it.

    The Temp and Tint sliders in the Basic panel adjust to make the selected color neutral, if possible.

Fine-tune the white balance using the Temp and Tint controls

In the Basic panel of the Develop module, adjust the Temp and Tint sliders.


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.

Adjust overall image tonal scale

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.

  1. (Optional) In the Tone area of the Basic panel, click Auto to set the overall tonal scale. Lightroom sets the sliders to maximize the tonal scale and minimize highlight and shadow clipping.
  2. Adjust the tone controls:


    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.

    Fill Light

    (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.

Adjust the tonal scale using the histogram

About histograms

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.

Lightroom tonal scale using the histogram
The left side of the histogram represents pixels with 0% luminance; the right side represents 100% luminance.

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).

Adjust images using the histogram

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.

Lightroom adjust images using histogram
Dragging in the Exposure area of the histogram adjusts the Exposure slider in the Basics panel.

  1. Move the pointer into an area of the histogram you want to adjust. The affected area is highlighted, and the affected tone control is displayed in the lower left of the panel.
  2. Drag the pointer left or right to adjust the corresponding slider value in the Basic panel.

View RGB color values

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.

Preview highlight and shadow clipping

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 on.

    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).

Set overall color saturation

In the Presence area of the Basic panel, change the color saturation (vividness or color purity) of all colors by adjusting the Clarity, Vibrance, and Saturation controls. (To adjust saturation for a specific range of colors, use the controls in the HSL/Color/Grayscale panel.)


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).

Video tutorial: Work with Clarity, Vibrance, and Saturation

Fine-tune the tonal scale using the Tone Curve panel

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.

Lightroom Develop module Tone Curve panel
Develop module Tone Curve 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.

Lightroom Drag a split control slider to the right to expand that tonal region
Drag a split control slider to the right to expand that tonal region; drag to the left to contract it.

  • 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.

Video tutorial: Adjustments with the Tone Curve

Fine-tune image colors with HSL sliders

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.


Changes the brightness of the color range.

Make adjustments in the HSL panel

  • 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.

Make adjustments in the Color panel

  1. In the Color panel, click a color chip to display the range of colors you want to adjust.
  2. Drag the sliders or enter values in the text boxes to the right of the sliders.

Adjust the color calibration for your camera

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.

  1. Select a photo, and then set options in the Camera Calibration panel.


    Sets the profile to use for your camera.

    ACR [version]

    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.

    Adobe Standard

    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.

    Camera profiles

    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


    Corrects for any green or magenta tint in the shadow areas of the photo.

    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.

  2. Save the adjustments as a Develop preset. See Create and apply Develop presets.

    You can apply this preset to other photos taken with the same camera, under similar lighting conditions.

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.

Save default settings for cameras

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.

  1. Open Presets preferences, and then select whether you want the camera serial number and the camera ISO setting to be included in the defaults.
  2. In Develop module, select a raw file, change settings, and choose Develop > Set Default Settings.
  3. Choose Update To Current Settings.

In Presets preferences, you can choose Reset Default Develop Settings to revert to the original settings.

Work in grayscale

Convert a photo to gray tones

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.

  1. Convert the photo to grayscale by selecting Black & White in the Treatment area of the Basic panel or by pressing V.
  2. Adjust the photo’s tonal range using the settings in the Basic and Tone Curve panels.
  3. 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.

Tone a grayscale photo

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.

  1. Select a grayscale photo.
  2. In the Split Toning panel of the Develop module, adjust the Hue and Saturation sliders for the Highlights and Shadows. Hue sets the color of the tone; Saturation sets the strength of the effect.
  3. Set the Balance slider to balance the effect between the Highlight and Shadow sliders. Positive values increase the effect of the Highlight sliders; negative values increase the effect of the Shadow sliders.

Work with single-channel grayscale images

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.

Video tutorial: Work with B&W adjustments

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