I want to share with you how you can use Lightroom Histogram to simplifies editing workflow even further.
Regardless of whether you use Lightroom Rapid Editing or prefer a freestyle workflow, anytime you dive into Lightroom’s main editing tools on the right panel, you always need to adjust the basics. What I mean by basics are exposure, shadows and highlights. I would say that 99% of the time, I need to tweak or adjust those edits.
Normally, you have two choices on how to adjust those parameters. If you use Lightroom Rapid Editing, you can use the TOOLKIT adjustments to modify the exposure, shadows and highlights. If you use freestyle editing, you can open Lightroom’s BASIC editing panel and use the corresponding adjustment sliders.
There is also one more way to achieve the same results.
Lightroom Histogram Panel
In the top right corner of the Lightroom Development Module, there is a Histogram Panel, which exists to help us evaluate the exposure value by visually illustrating the distribution of pixels from black to white in the selected photo.
But, that is not all. The Histogram Panel also serves as an interactive editing tool.
There are five areas in the histogram: Blacks, Shadows, Exposure, Highlights and Whites.
By moving mouse over the Lightroom histogram you can select those areas and by dragging them to the left and right (y-axis), you can visually adjust those parameters and change the shape of the histogram in the process.
Under the histogram, on the left side, we have the name of the selected parameter and on the right side the value of the selected parameter.
For example, if I need to adjust the Exposure in my photo, I select the biggest area in the middle of the Histogram Panel and drag it to the left if I want to decrease the exposure or to the right if I want to increase it.
And here are the corresponding editing sliders from Lightroom Basic Panel:
This visual and interactive tool makes basic adjustments both a very rapid and fun process.
Case Study: Landscape Histogram Editing
Today, I am going to demonstrate you how you can edit a photo using Histogram Panel only.
For the sake of demonstration, I am not going to use Rapid Editing or Standard Lightroom editing tools.
Here is the original, unprocessed RAW photo I took while driving from Arizona to Utah during my latest Southwest trip.
Step 1: Highlights and Shadows Recovery
The first step is to recover Highlights and Shadows.
I select the Highlights area of the Lightroom Histogram panel and dragged it all the way to the left until I reaches value of -100.
Next, I select the Shadows area and dragged it all the way to the right. I set the maximum possible value of +100.
The result of the recovery was somewhat flat and unappealing.
Step 2: Contrast and Saturation Boost
Next, by boosting the Whites and Blacks I can increase the contrast and saturation.
I set the value of Whites to +55 and value of Blacks to -69. Once again, I can achieve it by selecting appropriate area and dragging the on x-axis.
Step 3: Adjusting Exposure
The last step is to select Exposure area in the middle of Lightroom Histogram and drag it to the right until the photo looks properly exposed.
The Exposure value of +0.40 looks about right.
Below you can see the Lightroom before and after transformation. Please note, it took me only 4 simple adjustments without using the main editing tools.
As you can see this technique allows you to use Lightroom Histogram as a visual interactive editing tool. This approach works well with Lightroom Rapid Editing and Lightroom Rapid Editing Plus workflows when you need to adjust the Exposure before or after applying Lightroom Develop presets.