How to Adjust Exposure and White Balance in Lightroom for Big Results

Today’s post comes from Heather at Two Blooms – Lightroom Presets and is the first in a Lightroom series we will be doing here on the blog!

As photographers, sometimes we can make the mistake of not changing our camera settings under different lighting conditions. I can’t tell you how many times I have had the PERFECT shot, but it was underexposed because I failed to change my settings in that moment.

As digital photographers, we are very fortunate to have programs to help us recover a poorly exposed image, Lightroom in particular. I could go on and on about the benefits of using Lightroom as a professional photographer, but today I am just going to cover one point: exposure and white balance. I will guide you how easy and quick it is to correct an underexposed image.

As you can see, the photo I will be correcting today is very underexposed and also off in color (white balance).

before

To correct exposure and white balance, we will be working with the panel on the right hand side of our lightroom develop module.

2-before panel

 

Step one:

First thing I will do is change the exposure by sliding the exposure slider over to the right. Moving the slider to the right will over expose the original photo, as moving it to the left will under expose the original photo. As you can see, I have moved the slider to the right to a +1.07, which simply means I have added a 1.07 stop of light to the photo.

3-after exposure

 

Step two:

After bumping up the exposure, you can now see that the photo is slightly cool in color. This is a white balance issue that can also be fixed easily in Lightroom. To me, the photo looks slightly blue with a hint of magenta. With that observation, I have moved the temperature slider to the right to offset the blue tones; this creates a custom white balance in Lightroom (note that the WB option changed to “as shot” to “custom” after I changed the slider). To offset the magenta tones in the photo, I have also moved the tint slider 7 points to the left towards the green side.

4-after temperature

 

Just by correcting exposure and color temperature, the photo quality has drastically improved. Since I have also taken this photo in RAW format, the photo itself isn’t degraded and does not appear to have been corrected in post processing.

5-final

This tutorial is the first part of a series where I will show you simple ways to edit your photos in lightroom to give you a truly “polished picture.” Stay tuned for more tutorials.

Heather is a lifestyle family photographer based out of Cincinnati, OH and also the owner of Two Blooms – Lightroom Presets. Visit Heather on her website or Facebook!

Photoshop Head Swap Video Tutorial

before and after

To a photographer, fall means lots of family photo sessions!  I think one of the toughest things about group photos is getting everyone looking their best all at once!  In my experience, this rarely happens.  Or maybe I’m just not great at capturing it.  ;)  Regardless, doing head swaps in Photoshop is something I am extremely familiar with, just out of necessity!

I do have a written tutorial on head swaps on my post “Photo Surgery – Head Swapping and Body Moving.”  But for those of you that would rather see a video, here ya go!  Hope it is helpful!

Create a Dark, Cinematic Effect in Photoshop

Today’s before & after Photoshop tutorial comes to us from Marc Andre.  He will be showing us how to create a dark, cinematic effect.  Near the end of the tutorial, he provides the link to a free action you can download in order to apply this effect to your photos!

photoshop before and after

Photoshop allows you to create all kinds of different effects for your photos, and in this tutorial we’ll go through the process of creating a dark, cinema-inspired look. If you’re looking to add a dramatic touch to a photo, this approach can work quite well. We’ll use this photo as the starting point:

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And here is a preview of how the photo will look at the end of this tutorial:

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We’ll go through the process of creating this effect step-by-step. The specifics of some steps may vary depending on the photo that you are using as a starting point, so if you’re working with your own photo feel free to experiment a little and don’t feel like you need to stick to the exact details of each step. In each step we’ll create an adjustment layer. If you’re not familiar with adjustment layers in Photoshop they allow you to make non-destructive adjustments, meaning that your original photo layer will be untouched. To create an adjustment layer all you need to do is click on the circular icon at the bottom of the layers palette.

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When you click on that icon it will open a list of the different types of adjustment layers that you can add.

Step 1: Create a Black & White Adjustment Layer

Click on the icon to create a new adjustment layer and select “Black & White” from the list. Select the black & white adjustment layer in the layer’s palette and adjust the opacity to 60%.

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This adjustment will tone down the colors of the photo, but not to the point of making it black & white.

Step 2: Create a Curves Adjustment Layer

Next, we’ll make some adjustmes to the red, green, and blue curves, as well as the RGB curve. Click on the icon to create a new adjustment layer and select “curves”. The images below shows each of the curve adjustments that you will need to make. Use the dropdown to select RGB, red, green, or blue, and then make the adjustment to the curve.

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After the curves adjustment the photo looks like this:
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Step 3: Create Another Curves Adjustment Layer

Next, we’ll create a second curves adjustment layer, but this time we’re only going to edit the RGB curve, which will impact all colors in the photo. Drop the middle down a little bit and it will darken the mid tones of the photo.

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After this adjustment the photo looks like this:
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Step 4: Exposure Adjustment

Click the icon to create a new adjustment layer and select Exposure. We’ll adjust the exposure to +0.33. This step may or may not be neccesary depending on the photo that you are working with.
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Step 5: Saturation Adjustment

Next, click the icon to create a new adjustment layer and select “vibrance”. You’ll now be able to adjust vibrance and saturation. We’ll actually leave the vibrance setting untouched, but change the saturation to “-15″.
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Step 6: Contrast Adjustment

Now, for the last step. Click the icon to create a new adjustment layer and select “brightness/contrast”. We’ll leave the brightness setting untouched and change the contrast to “8″, giving it a slight contrast boost.
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Final Results

Here is a look at the before and after images:

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If you’re interested in adding the cinema-inspired effect to your photos without the need to go through all of these steps, a free Photoshop action is available that will complete the steps for you with one click.

About the Author:

Marc Andre is the editor of PhotographyPla.net, a website that offers downloadable products like Photoshop actions, Lightroom presets, photo overlays, textures, and print templates.