How to Balance Heavy Shadows and Bright Highlights in Lightroom

Golden hour or overcast skies usually offer the best conditions for capturing models while avoiding harsh shadows, but sometimes time and weather are against us and that’s when Lightroom can come to our rescue. Photographer Julia Trotti gives a quick lesson on how to balance your highlights and shadows.

Shooting in bright sunlight in the middle of the day can lead to a very unbalanced image, and sometimes you need to rely on Lightroom to do some heavy lifting when it comes to evening things out. Trotti’s approach takes you through some basics of evening out a very high-contrast image, including a handy tip for getting an idea of how much range there is in your image before you start editing. Lightroom isn’t the most precise tool when it comes to this sort of work but it certainly makes for a good starting point before you begin attempting to dodge and burn in Photoshop.

Larger sensors and more expensive cameras tend to have an advantage when it comes to sitting on the highlights and lifting shadows, typically creating raw files that contain more information. With greater dynamic range, manipulating these raw files can be more forgiving, producing less grain when lifting shadows, or avoiding strange artifacts when trying to recover highlights when compared to cheaper cameras or those with smaller sensors.

Log in or register to post comments

4 Comments

I'm sorry but these are not heavy shadows nor highlight. Look at the histogram at the beggining.
If you look how she bumped overall Exposure by +1 at the beggining you can still see details in the highlights.
I'm pretty sure this was shot during golden hour.

Motti Bembaron's picture

Nice video but why shooting 1.4? Because the lens can? You are risking focus issues. Why everyone thinks that portraits HAVE to be wide open? The model is so far away from the background, f/4 would be so much better.

Giovanni Aprea's picture

Wasted almost 6 min watching this...