Mastering Tonal Adjustments in Lightroom

Turning a flat raw file into a visually appealing image with rich contrasts and vibrant colors is a critical skill for every new photographer to learn. The helpful video tutorial will show you how to get started with tonal adjustments in Lightroom.

Coming to you from Christian Möhrle - The Phlog Photography, this instructive video illustrates the transformative power of tonal adjustments using a seemingly unremarkable raw file. Möhrle begins with a crucial step: correcting the white balance to neutralize color casts, which lays a solid foundation for further edits. He emphasizes the importance of the histogram in making these adjustments, aiming to align color peaks for a balanced image. The tutorial progresses to enhancing the photo's tonality, where Möhrle demonstrates how to manipulate exposure, highlights, shadows, and contrast to breathe life into the image. This process not only highlights the image's depth but also showcases the meticulous approach required to maintain detail without losing the scene's natural aesthetics.

Möhrle's approach is methodical, focusing on stretching the histogram to achieve the desired contrast. He explains the significance of adjusting the whites and highlights to brighten the image while carefully managing overexposure. Conversely, darkening the shadows and blacks subtly adds depth, creating a harmonious balance that accentuates the scene's beauty. 

The tutorial also delves into creative adjustments, such as enhancing textures and adjusting clarity to achieve a soft, atmospheric effect. Möhrle's strategic use of linear and radial gradients further refines the image, introducing elements like foreground emphasis and simulated sunlight. This holistic approach to editing, from basic corrections to advanced tonal adjustments and creative touches, illustrates the comprehensive nature of a full edit and serves as a fantastic lesson. Check out the video above for the full rundown from Möhrle.

Alex Cooke's picture

Alex Cooke is a Cleveland-based portrait, events, and landscape photographer. He holds an M.S. in Applied Mathematics and a doctorate in Music Composition. He is also an avid equestrian.

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1 Comment

Great Edit! This is an image I see a lot of but edited leaving the blueish tint. I had to watch a couple times to completely follow. People with boats at sunrise or sunset the white hull will have the same blueish tint due to being on the shadow side. This is excellent to show that watching the histogram while editing. This would also help with getting white birds white and more detail in the feather sharper.