Lightroom users are treated regularly with spectacular new features. In the April 2023 update the automatic denoising feature was added to the Detail panel. And in the October 2023 release (aka Lightroom 2024) AI influences were welcomed in the form of the Point Dropper Tool - a complement to the existing HSL/Color panel. And the new Lens Blur panel is a rival for expensive prime lenses with wider apertures.
In this workflow the novelties are applied to a nature scene.
Which steps are taken?
With the Denoise feature noise will be removed and raw details improved.
1. The dark parts must have higher exposure
2. The background gets a blurring treatment
3. The green colour in the grass and trees will be more appealing
4. The red leaves get more saturation and luminance
Step Part Program Area Module Remark 1 Noise Reduction Lightroom Detail Develop Denoising 2 Select Sky Lightroom Masking Develop Invert 3 Lens Blur Lightroom Lens Blur Develop 4 Point Color Lightroom Color Mixer Develop Green grass 5 Point Color Lightroom Color Mixer Develop Red leaves
The RAW working file has large dark parts. For RAW processing that’s no problem. It can cover quite a range of exposures especially in the dark region. Better too dark than too light!
Experienced Lightroom users will be used to the familiar way of denoising. That means getting rid of grainy patterns, which are often caused by high ISO values or just insufficient light. It was a matter of navigating to the Detail panel and play with the Luminance slider until a good compromise between the disappearances of grain and sharp edge details was reached. Now this method is renamed to Manual Noise Reduction.
With the help of AI a click on the Denoise button will open a module which performs loss of grain, but at the same time enhances the details. Presently Denoise is only available for RAW images. And merged HDR’s and Panorama’s are excluded as well.
To witness the effects of denoising first set the pixel size in the Navigator panel (left pane) to 100%. Select an area, where grain and edges are visible. Then press in the Detail panel on Denoise button. A window pops up with an Enhance Preview. In the image enlargement the enhanced image is visible. Then toggling with a pressed mouse button shows a comparison with the original resolution. The differences are notable!
The denoise effect has been set at 50%. Of course it’s possible to experiment with this value. However in practice it always turns out to be a good choice. Improving of the Raw Details is automatically included – clearly sharpening has taken place. A disappointment is estimated time for the enhance action. The duration depends heavily on your computer’s power. It’s a good habit to first press the Enhance button and then reach out for a cup of coffee! In the upper left corner the progress is visible. The result will be saved a new dng file in which the word Enhanced is included.
A final remark about denoising is the ordering in the workflow. Give it priority and let denoising play with an undeveloped image. When you put denoising later in the ordering, then it conflicts with other AI operations and it takes considerably more time.
Finally set the resolution in the Navigator panel back to FIT.
Students of other workflows will have seen a steady and consistent start pattern. And it is? We let Lightroom do the first exploration and press in in the Basic panel on the Auto button. In the Tone sections the values are automatically set. And in the Presence section the Vibrance and Saturation are affected. The image becomes brighter and more colourful. We keep away from puzzling with the values. In the following steps we will execute partial operations.
Auto Tone and Presence
You achieve the best result when editing in Lightroom by starting from scratch. So a rough start. Later you will develop your own style and you can use presets to fill in steps in advance. The experience of many is that you make the beginning easier by pressing the Auto button in the Basic > Tone panel. The program analyzes the image and sets the sliders in the Tone and Presence panels to values that you can work with further. Think of it in such a way that you see the values as indications. Modify them as you see fit and adapt them to your own taste.
1. Masking with inverted sky
So the challenge is to give the dark parts a higher exposure. Typically a case for masking – in this instance we mask the sky and invert it then to the dark foreground. Click the Masks icon in the unnamed panel just below the Histogram – it’s on the most right side. Then a selection menu for masks appears.
Press on the Sky button. After a few seconds the sky turns red. That’s the result of the default checkmark, that precedes the words Show Overlay. In order to switch the mask from the sky to non-sky put a checkmark before the word Invert – located just under the Masks icon. During this process a panel has appeared with an overview of the masks. Presently we work in Mask1.
First increase in the Tone panel the Exposure slider to +20. While sliding it can be noted, that the red overlay disappears and the increased exposure only affects the foreground.
Then set the Shadows to a value of +40.
The histogram fills neatly to the left and right, so no changes in the White and Blacks are necessary.
No changes to perform in the other panels.
The modest mask operations are ready. Save the editing by clicking again on the Masks button
2. Lens Blur
Certainly a novelty is the Lens Blur. This facility was already present in Photoshop under the Neural Filters under the name Depth Blur.
Scroll down the panel and locate Lens Blur. After checkmarking the word Apply the analysis starts and displays its results mainly in the section Focal Range. Let’s go through all elements and do some experimenting!
Blur Amount can vary from 0 (no effect at all) to +100. Play with the slider and examine the blurring in the background. The choice is personal, but let’s set it at +60.
Bokeh comes into play, when you like to imitate the effect of expensive lenses with a wide aperture. This image does not lend it self for Bokeh, but when you set the Boost slider to +100 you can try out the 5 provided Bokeh patterns. Let’s stick to pattern 1 and a Boost of +50.
The Focal Range section really is the heart of Lens Blur. Before you start experimenting make a note of the start values after the initial analysis. Just for an easy recovery! You see a ribbon with slices. The Focal Range has been set between 8 and 56. This is displayed with a frame. When you move the frame to the right, the foreground becomes blurry and the background sharp. And you can change the width of the range with frame handle. A short frame only produces a small sharp area. A long frame gives less blur. Can you imagine, that a Focal Range from 0 to 100 resembles the original unblurred image? The original values for the Focal Range were okay, so let’s restore them.
Last element is Visualize Depth. After giving it a checkmark you can observe, that the Focal Range is built up from a set of layers. Now open the Refine accordion. With brushes it’s possible to enlarge either the Focus area or the Blur area. If you’re interested, you can explore these options yourself.
For now enough first information about Lens Blur. We uncheck Visualize Depth and conclude this section.
Take a look at the result of the modifications so far!
3. Refining the green colours
It’s time to explore another amazing new feature of Lightroon 2024: The Point Color Tool. First treatment will be the refining of the green colours in the trees and bushes. Of course it’s a matter of personal taste, but I don’t like the often overwhelming green colours. In this image the quantity is modest, but it’s good to practice the Point Color Tool here.
Navigate to the Color Mixer panel. Previously it was named HSL/Color. The options are Mixer (the well-known HSL/Color operations) and Point Color. Make the latter active with a click. Then click upper left in the panel on the Point Color Dropper. Now the mouse pointer is replaced by a dropper. Click in the image on an average green spot. In the Color Mixer panel the selected color is displayed in a color spectrum in which it is surrounded by adjacent colors.
Adjustments can be made in two ways: either by moving the circles in the two color fields or you adjust with the familiar slider. In the rectangular color field moving horizontally influences the hue. And moving vertically affects the saturation. Give it try! The vertical color field at the right governs the luminance. Give it try and adapt the values to your personal taste.
The horizontal color field (the one without a circle) shows the original color at the left and the new color at the right. Then play with the Range slider to control the percentage result of the changes. In practice leave it unchanged. As is the case with all sliders in Lightroom: Give the label a double click in order to return to the original values.
The white triangle at the right of the Range slider reveals when clicked a treasure room for the professionals. Here you can expand or diminish the ranges for the HSL sliders.
Finally with a checkmark on Visualize Range you’re shown which part of the image is affected by the Color Mixer.
So far we only selected one color with the Point Color Dropper. You could repeat this sequence up to 8 colors. In this part of the workflow we confine ourselves to just 1 colour. But watch out for another breaking aspect of the Point Color Tool.
4. The red leaves get attention
In previous Lightroom versions masking operations were limited to the functions in the Basic panel. Now others panels can be used as well. Among others it includes the Color Mixer panel. We will create a mask and then work on the red parts of the leaves.
Click on the Masking button – you should know by now where it’s situated. Now the Masks panel appears. Click on Create New Mask and choose Select Subject. The selection (shown by the red overlay) doesn’t contain all red leaves. To expand the mask click on Add, select Brush and paint the reddish parts. It doesn’t matter, that Mask2 covers parts of the sky since it contains no red.
In the Mask2 panel turn to the Point Color section, select the Point Color Dropper and click on a red part of a leaf. Play with the circles or sliders to your own taste. The result could look like this:
Satisfied with the result? Then click on the Masking button to save the changes in Mask2. And this is the end of this workflow. Change to the Library tab, edit the Metadata and Export the image to a JPG file for later reference.
Of course you could continue with finetuning. For example remove the leaves at the upper edge, give the sky a dramatic boost and imitate a sunset. But that’s beyond the intentions of this workflow. The intention was to demonstrate the new features, which Lightroom received in the course of the year 2023 and what is labelled Lightroom 2024. Hope you enjoyed the training!
Are you interested in the location of this capture? It’s featured on Google Maps and includes an older workout of this image.