If you’ve ever seen someone tune a violin, you know that there are two places to tune the instrument. There are the huge knobs on at the end of the neck, and the little tiny knobs down by where you hold the instrument near your chin. The difference between the two is a matter of “fine tuning.” The larger knobs are for the large changes, and once you get it about right, you go down and tune using the little tiny knobs. It helps get the instrument JUST right.
Well, there are two places you can adjust the exposure in Lightroom on an image. How to you know which one to use and when? It’s very similar to that violin. In the Basic Panel, there is a slider for Exposure. This is your large knob. It’s slightly more intelligent and will get you to the point of, “That’s about right!” In the Custom Tone Curve, you can really fine tune your exposure. I’ve broken down my standard preset from the my original Before/After post to share the individual changes. The “before” photo below is the image edited with everything except my exposure. The after photo is with the addition of the Exposure slider in the Basic window.
And now hover over to see the final image with the addition of the fine tuning of the tone curve. I like how I have the power to keep the black point where I want it, but make the skin come alive. In that way, curves are a powerful way to add contrast as well as additional exposure…but that’s another day!
I have two more notes on this topic. 1. In no way is this the only way to edit a photo. Everyone has a different technique and method to this madness. This is how I view and use Lightroom, and I hope it helps at least one person! 2. It really helps to nail your image in camera. Because this isn’t a before or after on SHOOTING for exposure, I won’t spend time on this point, but that is key to make your editing process fast and easy.
I would love to hear your questions! Comment below if you have any!