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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 that’s quite a bit overexposed, washed out, and flat-looking (this was taken inside the main train station in Prague). If you’re not sure where to start in fixing an image, this is the perfect time to click on the Auto button (it’s in the Basic panel, in the Tone section, just to the right of the word “Tone”). Just click on it and Lightroom analyzes the image and applies what it thinks is the proper correction for this photo. It will only move the sliders it thinks it needs, and they will only be the sliders in the Tone section of the Basic panel (so not things like Vibrance, Saturation, or Clarity, or stuff in other panels).

Just one click and look at how much better the image looks. Now, if the image doesn’t look that great after clicking the Auto button, you can either: (a) just use it as a starting place and then tweak the sliders yourself, or (b) press Command-Z (PC: Ctrl-Z) to undo the Auto adjustment, so you can do your editing manually. It’s worth at least trying Auto tone because it can actually do a pretty decent job sometimes—it just depends on the image. In my experience, it works really well on images that are too bright (like this one), but on images that are too dark, it often overexposes them, but you can usually fix that by simply lowering the Exposure amount.

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