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Setting Your White Point and Black Point

The Whites and Blacks sliders are used most often by photographers who had a workflow where they always set the white and black points for their images using Photoshop’s Levels command (which is the proper way to do it there), but missed that functionality here in Lightroom. Personally, I use these two sliders the least (well, the Whites anyway; I do drag the Blacks to the left when I have a photo that looks washed out. That fixes it fast!).

Step One: The Whites and Blacks sliders control the very brightest and very darkest parts of your image (the two narrow ends of the histogram). Some folks like to start with these two sliders first, expanding the range of their image as far as they can, without clipping either the highlights or the shadows (turning them solid black, so there’s no detail in those areas), before even touching the Exposure slider (I’m not that guy). You can do that by pressing-and-holding the Option (PC: Alt) key and dragging the Whites slider to the right to expand the very brightest whites. As you do, the screen turns black. Keep dragging until you see white areas appear (those areas are clipping), and then drag backward just a little until they’re gone. That’s as far as you can expand the Whites.

Step Two: Now, press-and-hold the Option (PC: Alt) key, once again, and drag the Blacks slider to the left to expand the very darkest blacks. As you do, the screen turns white (as seen here). Keep dragging left until you see black areas appear (those areas are clipping in the shadows), so drag back to the right just a little until they’re gone. That’s as far as you can expand the blacks. Now, your white and black points are set. Note: I don’t generally do this, but I thought you’d want to know it’s possible, in case you ‘re coming to Lightroom from years of using Photoshop and miss the ability to set your white and black points.

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