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Auto Tone (Having Lightroom Do the Work for You)

Like I mentioned in my Editing Cheat Sheet earlier in this chapter, the Auto Tone feature lets Lightroom take a crack at editing your photo (basically, it evaluates the image based on what it sees in the histogram) and it tries to balance things out. Sometimes it does a pretty darn good job, but if it doesn’t, no worries—just press Command-Z (PC: Ctrl-Z) to undo it.

Step One: Here’s an image with lots of problems—mostly in the sky, where it’s too bright (although the ground isn’t properly exposed either—it’s too dark). In short, if you have a shot like this, and you’re not sure where to start, click on the Auto button (it’s found to the right of the word “Tone” in the Basic panel and it’s shown circled here in red).

Step Two: Just one click and look at how much better the image looks. Well, actually, does it? The sky certainly looks a lot better (it’s darker with more detail now), but our problem with the ground got even worse. That’s the problem with any automatic fix—sometimes it works really well and other times it fixes part of the problem (like the sky here), but then creates a bigger problem (the ground is now darker than before here, and it was already too dark to begin with). Of course, since there are other tools in Lightroom we could use to fix the ground, we can just use the Auto Tone version of our image here as a starting place. So, it’s worth clicking the Auto button just to see if it gives you a good starting place or not.

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