What is auto in LR/Raw and exposures

Started 1 month ago | Discussions thread
Mark Scott Abeln
Mark Scott Abeln Forum Pro • Posts: 15,538
What, how, why, when?
3

Currantos wrote:

My main problem and I don't know how I got there, sometimes we overthink and make the simplest things complex.

Well, they are complex, not simple at all, and do require thought to be used well.

Lots of beginners see the overwhelming number and variety of adjustments. What is important? What are they used for? How are they supposed to be used? When should they be used?

Another problem is that beginners will apply the settings with a heavy hand, moving the slider all of the way to one side, and then moving it all of the way to the other. This won't work, and many adjustments can be quite subtle.

When I started using Photoshop back in 2006 or 2007, I had no idea what to do, so I purchased two books on the subject, one which was comprehensive, covering all of the features of Photoshop, and another which covered hardly anything at all.

The comprehensive book was the worst, as it was just a regurgitation of the manual, never telling me how, when, or why I should use the features.

The book which covered hardly any features at all was the best, because it specifically told me what ought to be done, and when and why. The book was Dan Margulis' Professional Photoshop; which covered maybe seven features of Photoshop, but in great depth. He is a well-known and respected Photoshop teacher, with lots of experience in professional image editing as well.

Some of his principles for good image editing are pretty simple:

  • Get a full range of tones from black to white, using the Curves tool to adjust the tone curve and do white balance.
  • Identify the brightest significant highlights and darkest significant shadow areas, and adjust these to be rather bright and rather dark (such as RGB numbers of 140 for the bright tones and 15 for the dark tones).
  • Identify the tones with the most important details and texture, and adjust the tonal curve to be steepest in this region.
  • Identify patches in your scene that are objectively white, gray, and black. Using the individual channel tone curves, adjust these so that the RGB values are all equal in each patch, neutralizing the color in them.
  • Add enough sharpening to make your image look crisp, but not so much that you can actually see the sharpening artifacts.

This may not be the best process today, but it still works well.

Somehow, I got it in my head that I HAVE to click auto and THEN start making adjustments? I don't know how, massive brain fart obviously.

So images often were ok starting point but then often totally horrid and then adjusting them back to 'normality' became a problem.

Some auto functions are better than other auto functions.

For example, one auto function that works pretty well almost all of the time is auto white balance.

I don't know why or how, don't ask me clearly I am stupid, LOL.

That's why I tried to find out what the heck is this Auto thing and how do I work around it.

If there is some feature in your software that you don't understand, then don't use it!

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