Selective Tonal/Color Adjustments in Lightroom 5

Summary – Last week I published a post on Adjusting Tonal & Color Contrast. The adjustments were made with Color Efex Pro. A reader asked if I could show how to do something similar in Lightroom. Yes, indeed – and here’s how.


Tonal & color contrast adjustments

Are easy to do and

Are very effective

Lightroom 5’s develop module’s tools

Are well suited to the task


Before – As done in Color Efex Pro

After – As done in Lightroom 5 (except for the border)

The LR5 version is Over-the-Top over-processed

Wanted to illustrate the potential

Roll Mouse Over

001xxxx26_DSC7678_nx_resize nikblog001_DSC7678_nx_lr5acrblog


Here is the captured image



Here’s the four-part step-by-step summary –

1. Use the Develop module’s BASIC tools to make

Overall global adjustments

As shot, flat & underexposed

2. Use the Develop module’s Adjustment Brush for

Local adjustments to sky & water

Still flat & lacking contrast after step 1

3. Use the Develop module’s Radial filter to

Brighten the eye movement path

Lower right to upper left exposure brightening

Using two ellipses

4. Back to Develop’s Basic tool and the HSL Color tool

Fine tune tonal & color adjustments

This is a single long image; click to enlarge and read what was done

9-4-2013 2-42-09 PM 


Needs some polishing (& throttling back on the colors)

But – that’s the general idea

Global adjustments via Develop module BASIC tool

followed by

Local adjustments via

Adjustment brush

Linear gradient

Circular gradient

Color Efex Pro is more effective (better control with more options)

but if I spent more time with LR, it would be OK


Maybe I’ll follow this post with some

Nik Collection (including Color Efex Pro) versus LR5

Side-by-side adjustment comparisons

How about a show of hands –

Who’s interested in a more detailed explanation of

LR5 selective adjustments

9-6-2013 9-29-14 AM


In the meantime check back tomorrow for

Another LR5 selective adjustment overview

This time – extreme shadow & highlight recovery

Applied selectively

An alternative to HDR


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2 thoughts on “Selective Tonal/Color Adjustments in Lightroom 5

    • That makes two of us learning. Doing things like those covered in this post is how I learn.

      I’ve avoided LR for a long time. Barely gave these selective tools a glance before this. It’s the incentive I needed to make better use of LR. Now if Adobe would just give LR some basic layers functionality (& if Nik plug-ins didn’t require a separate round-trip to/from LR for every individual plug-in) life would be great. 😉

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