As photographers, we are forever searching for ways to get our images to look as we envision them. One of our primary problems comes from the fact that camera sensors, as clever as they are, aren’t quite as clever as our eyes – at least as processed by our brains. Our eyes have the ability to all at once see very different levels of ‘exposure.’ Looking at a sunset, for example, we are able to see the correct hues and highlights of the bright sky in great detail, whilst at the same time, the same for the more ‘earthly’ portions of the scene. Typically, in a camera, we can only expose for one area precisely, so we meter for the brights or the darks, or somewhere in between.

In an effort to mitigate this problem, we are eternally searching for new or better ways of recovering detail from the highlights, and more commonly the shadows. It’s one of the huge benefits of shooting in RAW, and why we love our shadow recovery sliders so much. They allow us to expose for the brighter areas, and bring back detail from the shadows in post. Even as I always shoot to get it right in-camera, I tend to underexpose my images more than most and recommend the same since our software tends to do a better job at bringing back shadow detail than highlight detail, in my experience. Now, Matt Kloskowski from onOne has shared a different way to use Lightroom to get even more out of your shadows than your current Lightroom Shadow slider allows for.


Shadows brought back with Shadow Slider
Shadows brought back with Fill Light, and not to maximum

Prior to Lightroom 4, the ‘Shadow’ slider existed as the ‘Fill Light’ slider, but it seems the algorithm was a bit different and that the old version was quite a bit more powerful. Here, Matt shows you how you can very simply revert back to the older process version of Lightroom to take advantage of this old slider, and maybe even some other options. This should not be confused with reverting your entire application to an older version, as that’s not at all the case. How to: Go to Settings>Process>2010. That’s it.

There is, as with everything, a slight caveat, and that once you enter that older profile, and manipulate your image, you will not be able to revert back to the current Lightroom platform within that particular photo. It’s also good to keep in mind that the Fill Light slider is not the only difference, and you may miss certain options you like, and then there’s the different color profile which may require some adjustment of your image. At Matt’s suggestion, you may prefer to create a preset that lets you see the shadow detail benefit of the switch before the switch is actually made.


[REWIND: Spot Metering | How To Get Perfect Exposures In One Shot]

It should also be said that if you find the Shadow slider unable to get your image to where you want it to be, you may have to sacrifice quality of those shadow areas too much to make it worth it. It’s a balancing act.

If you’re looking to really squeeze everything out of Lightroom, and save time doing it, then it’s worth your time to check out our Lightroom Image Mastery and vaunted Lightroom Preset System. Or you can go whole hog with the collection.

Find more from Matt here an onOne