For a long time I have been lazy. Lazy with my landscape photos. While stating that “If I need more than 30 seconds to make the image look good, it’s trash” might be an idea, some images still deserve a little extra to show up nicely.

20200229-DSC_3990-PC Whites

Let’s start with the final result of a very simple image.

The final image of this post is the first one, don’t worry we’ll get back to it.

A few weeks ago I was in a park during a morning of heavy hoarfrost. I snapped a picture of a lone, standing tree and thought no more of it. When I got home, the picture looked like this:

20200229-DSC_3990-Imported

This is the image as imported from the camera, no development applied.

20200229-DSC_3990-2-Auto

As usual, I applied the Auto button for a good start,

20200229-DSC_3990-4-Blacks

then shift double click on Blacks

20200229-DSC_3990-5-Whites

And shift double click on Whites to define the optimal white point of the picture.

To be honest, the picture didn’t inspire me and it remained in the Lightroom Library, discarded, but just a little too good to be deleted permanently. I often keep these pictures in case a new version of Lightroom, or a new plugin or other program comes along and can do what I had in mind.

A few weeks later, I thought about the Tone Curve. I blogged about that Tone Curve about 10 years ago when it was first introduced in Lightroom 3. The download link is (obviously) no longer valid there, but the rest of the post is.

More or less.

So I started off again with my basic import like this:

20200229-DSC_3990-Imported

Don’t try to find differences, this is the same picture as above Smile. No settings applied.

Then I started playing a bit with the Tone Curve. I selected the Point Curve in the Tone Curve panel as this is the most flexible and most dangerous type of curve. My previous post about this shows what can go wrong if you overdo it.

First, I deformed the point curve from the regular straight (neutral, do-nothing) line into an “S” curve:

imageNote that the “S” is kind of irregular, not a basic shape.

The picture now looked like this:

20200229-DSC_3990-PointCurve

Still a bit dark, but already with a lot more “pop”. Since I am still lazy, I then applied my regular Auto button and came up with this:

20200229-DSC_3990-Curve Auto

Still not happy I added the Black point using Shift+DoubleClick on the Blacks in the basic panel

20200229-DSC_3990-PC Blacks

And then again the same for the whites.

20200229-DSC_3990-PC Whites

Just to show that the image result from my Basic treatment and the Extra treatment with the Tone curve makes a nice difference, here are the two side by side:

Auto+Blacks+WhitesTone Curve+Auto+Blacks+Whites

Left, Auto+Blacks+Whites, right Tone Curve+Auto+Blacks+Whites

As you can see, there is quite the difference between the two. I can hear you argue that these pictures are mostly Black and White pictures, I agree. But just imagine what you can do with this same Tone Curve on a near (but not quite) perfect image of a different nature?

Try out that Tone Curve, but remember one thing, if nothing else, “a little is already a lot!” in the tone curve. It’s very easy to overdo it and ruin a (near) perfectly good picture.

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Henk
6 hours 2 minutes

Thanks :) !

sursohog
9 hours 15 minutes

---Very nice Blog Henk - some nice shots there...-:)

Henk
5 days 2 hours

Presets can speed up your workflow a lot, provided you have plenty of the same type of pictures. People doing weddings will a ...

Henk
5 days 2 hours

Hi, I hadn't noticed that the typing colour was that dark... changed it to pure white, that should do it ... Henk

'Dan..
5 days 4 hours

I certainly agree the use of presets will discourage people learning their own methods but they can offer a shortcut to fulfi ...

Henk
26 days 3 hours

Well, I was told so by a "pro" that later recanted... :-) I removed the name, so at least it is now correct.

josie brendle
27 days 6 hours

nice blog but sorry the horses are not Clydesdales. Those are a little bigger. :)

Henk
27 days 19 hours

Test comment here

Henk Von Pickartz
27 days 23 hours

This is a comment. I will see if this works or if this will be taken over by spammers. If so, then I will take it down again.