Adjust overall image tonal scale

You adjust the overall image tonal scale using the tone controls in the Basic panel. As you set the white and black points, 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:
    Exposure
    Sets the overall image brightness, with a greater effect in the high values. Adjust the slider until the photo looks good and the whites are at the right level. Use Recovery to bring highlight values down.

    Exposure values are in increments equivalent to f‑stops. An adjustment of +1.00 is similar to increasing the aperture 1 stop. Similarly, an adjustment of –1.00 is similar to reducing the aperture 1 stop.

    Recovery
    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
    Lightens shadow to reveal more detail while maintaining blacks. Take care not to over apply the setting and reveal image noise.

    Blacks
    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.

    Brightness
    Adjusts image brightness, mainly affecting midtones. Set the overall tonal scale by setting Exposure, Recovery, and Blacks. Then set the overall image brightness. Large brightness adjustments can affect shadow or highlight clipping, so you may want to readjust the Exposure, Recovery, or Blacks slider after adjusting brightness.

    Contrast
    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.

    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.

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