A lot of people might be confused, or they might be intimidated by how a Tone Curve works, but it’s really quite simple. The Tone Curve is a powerful tool that can be used to make advanced tonal adjustments on your image, and when you understand the basics of the Tone Curve then you can utilize it in your post processing workflow.
LIGHTROOM IMAGE PROCESSING MASTERY WORKSHOP V5
The following is an excerpt from the Lightroom Image Processing Mastery Workshop v5. This workshop has over 10 hours of full resolution hands on image processing instructions within the Lightroom Develop Module, and we included 30 images that we develop from start to finish so you can see exactly how it’s done. With this workshop you will learn how to master post production basics, local adjustment tools, and overall development of photos inside of Lightroom. Learn how to master every aspect of Lightroom Image Processing by clicking
THE TONE CURVE
When we look at the Tone Curve we see that it’s very similar to the Histogram, they both graph a visual representation of our image. What we see in the Tone Curve is just luminosity, whereas in the Histogram also shows us colors.
MAKING ADJUSTMENTS TO YOUR IMAGE USING THE TONE CURVE
The Tone Curve is similar to how we make adjustments with the Histogram, except instead of dragging the area to the left or right, you pull it up or down (up making it brighter and down darker). If I wanted to increase or brighten my shadows, I simply click on the Shadows section of the Tone Curve (bottom left) and pull up, and if I wanted to darken the Shadows I would drag it down.
What we’re adjusting with the Tone Curve is Luminosity. In the Basic Panel we drag the sliders to the right and left to adjust luminosity, in the Tone Curve we drag the curve up or down to adjust luminosity.
One important thing to remember is that the Basic Panel and Histogram are linked. When we make adjustments in the Basic Panel it affects the Histogram and vice versa. The Tone Curve is separate and will not affect anything in the Basic Panel or the Histogram, and this allows us to have 2 unique ways of adjusting the tones in our image.
TONE CURVE REGIONS
Underneath the Tone Curve is the Regions, and here we can adjust Highlights, Lights, Darks, and Shadows. It works similarly to the sliders in the Basic Panel, and when we mouse over a Region’s slider we can see where it’s affecting the Tone Curve.
TONE CURVE TOOL
Another quick way that you can edit your image using the Tone Curve is through the Tone Curve Adjustment tool. It works similarly to a color picker, you just move your mouse over sections of the image and the tool highlights the area on the Tone Curve where that section of the image is. Then to adjust you just click and drag up or down to make that area of the image brighter or darker.
CUSTOM POINT CURVE ADJUSTMENTS IN THE TONE CURVE
The Point Curve is another tool in Lightroom 5’s Tone Curve that allows us to make advanced adjustments in our image. The power of the Point Curve lies in the ability to make calculated tonal adjustments to whatever part of the image you want. Creating your custom point curve is as simple as clicking on points along the tone line and then pulling those points up or down depending on if you want that part of the image to be made brighter or darker.
All of the adjustments you make in the Point Curve adjusts the image without affecting the Basic Panel, which is what makes the Tone Curve so powerful for artistic processing of your images within Lightroom. For example, let’s give our image a nice faded look.
To do this, simple click on the bottom corner point and drag up. The higher you drag the more faded or washed out your image will become. This is a great effect if you’re going for a vintage style old film look. You can also add more fade by pulling the white point (the one at the very top right corner) down, and this will add more of a fade to the Highlights of your image.
CONTROLLING INDIVIDUAL COLOR CHANNELS WITH THE TONE CURVE
You can get even more advanced than controlling all of the colors equally, using the custom point curve mode you can also control individual color channels for even more control over how your image looks.
This is an incredibly powerful way to process your images and give them exactly the sort of effects that you were looking for, whether it be imitating a film effect or going for a special vintage look.
As you can see, the Tone Curve offers you three powerful ways to process your image in the Region Mode, Tone Curve Tool, and Point Curve Adjustments. You can even take it a step further and modify your Red, Blue, and Green color channels individually for any number of special effects that you may be going for.