Easy Tips to Understand and Improve Contrast Editing in Lightroom

As it turns out, I've been quite the simpleton when it comes to applying contrast in my photos, as with Lightroom, there are a few new tricks to make this process easier.

In my past experiences, I've merely been adjusting the contrast slider, or if I'm feeling really adventurous, I'll apply a tonal contrast filter from the Nik Collection by DXO. YouTuber and Landscape photographer Mark Denney has a few better ways to share, however.

Before getting into the best practices that Denney shares in the video above, he goes into a useful discussion between the differences in using a more "traditional" way, such as adjusting white and black points via sliders, and some of the newer sliders introduced into Lightroom over the last few years, such as texture and dehaze, which joined that long-standing clarity slider. If, like me, you've been a bit mystified by how these sliders work, Denney goes into detail what the effects of using each will do to your photo.

If you'd like to go beyond these basics, however, Denney talks about an effective tip of using a combination of masks with tone curves. While tone curves are not something I often use, some of the newfound flexibility in the tools plus the ability to essentially adjust the opacity of the curve with the mask helps to make this a far more powerful approach than just simply having a go at it with the contrast slider.

While the tone curve tool can often be mystifying or even downright scary compared to a simple slider, there's a lot of impact that can be made with this technique over the easier options.

Check out the full details on the technique in the video above, and if you have tips to adjust contrast in your photography, share them in the comments below.

Wasim Ahmad's picture

Wasim Ahmad is an assistant teaching professor teaching journalism at Quinnipiac University. He's worked at newspapers in Minnesota, Florida and upstate New York, and has previously taught multimedia journalism at Stony Brook University and Syracuse University. He's also worked as a technical specialist at Canon USA for Still/Cinema EOS cameras.

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1 Comment

Should we apply the contrast mask before adjusting Presence or after. Thanks. Great video!