Pushing and pulling darker pixels and lighter pixels away from medium gray is the definition of the word contrast in digital photography. When we add contrast to our photographs we are choosing to make one group of pixels brighter and another group darker. Adding contrast adds detail into our images. The human eye needs this separation away from medium gray to distinguish edges and details but doing it right often requires selectivity and nuance. The Contrast slider, that we find at the top of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom’s Basic Panel, is fine when you want fast and sloppy adjustments. This slider does what it says but it lacks elegance and precision.
The Tone Curve Panel in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, on the other hand, is the place to go when you want real control. As you will see in today’s video tutorial, elegant contrast changes require multiple sliders or points of control. By working with the four sliders and the Targeted Adjustment Tool in Lightroom’s Tone Curve Panel, you can make much more precise changes and you can add contrast with grace and restraint.
Once you understand how the Tone Curve Panel works adding contrast with precision in Photoshop Lightroom is easy. It takes a little practice to master these tools, but it is worth the effort. Learning to add contrast to both your color and your black and white images via Lightroom’s Tone Curve Panel is one of the best things that you can do for your digital photography.
This Photoshop Lightroom tutorial is part of a series of lessons that I have put together on image enhancement. If you are a brand new Lightroom user then I encourage you to watch my Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 101 tutorials and review the older posts in our Lightroom Laboratory series. Learning Photoshop Lightroom is much easier if you start the journey with the appropriate background information.