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Thread: The Power of the Lightroom Adjustment Brush

  1. #1
    Glenn NK's Avatar
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    The Power of the Lightroom Adjustment Brush

    DanK's tutorial on the use of Zerene stacker and LR has inspired me to do a little demo on what the LR Adjustment Brush can do. Please note that this is based on a RAW file.

    I'll start with the BEFORE image - one I very nearly discarded. The BG was messy, and in harsh direct daylight. I used my diffuser for the flower but the sun was 90 degrees to the axis of the lens, resulting in some terrible highlights. Since the BG really couldn't be salvaged, I decided to make it black.

    When I zoomed in, I noticed the blemishes near the top of the flower.

    The Power of the Lightroom Adjustment Brush


    The first thing I did was to set LR4.4 to the 2012 process with the camera profile set to Camera Faithful - I prefer this as it tends to give me more detail in petals.

    Then I set the WB to Daylight, and selected Auto for exposure, etc. At this point, it's wise to hold down the Alt key, and click the mouse on Highlights and Whites to check for blown out areas; these can often be salvaged with a negative correction (to the left).

    Next step is to remove the blemish with the touch-up brush (not the adjustment brush). I use the CLONE setting rather than the HEAL setting as it allows me to select where the "patch" is coming from. The keyboard command for this is "Q". Zoom in by three (3.0).

    Then I selected the Adjustment Brush (keyboard K), and used the following settings:
    Exposure = minus 4.00
    Contrast, Highlights, Clarity, and Shadows settings don't matter with Exposure at minus 4.00.

    With the brush set with Auto Mask checked (on), I traced around the edges of the flower. To obtain a very clean BG with no noise beyond the edges of the flower, I un-check Auto Mask when doing the main area that will be black (don't go over the flower or you'll have to UNDO).

    The upper left still had some bright areas, so I selected another Adjustment Brush with the same settings and repeated the masking procedure. This resulted in a completely black BG. A new feature in LR5 (just issued) is that a brush can be duplicated - a real time saver with a complex flower.

    The Power of the Lightroom Adjustment Brush

    One more step (optional):

    One more Adjustment Brush, but with values thus:
    A little bit of positive clarity and contrast with the Density set rather low, and brush over the parts that are in relatively good focus and that have some interesting lines/features. This can be used to bring out the details.

    I also used the HSL sliders, with the Red and Orange Hue sliders at +12 and +16 respectively (some would call this cheating, I refer to it as creativity).

    That's it. It took me about 15 minutes to save it.

    Glenn
    Last edited by Glenn NK; 14th June 2013 at 06:30 AM.

  2. #2
    DanK's Avatar
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    Re: The Power of the Lightroom Adjustment Brush

    Glenn,

    Thanks for positing this. It's a very helpful tutorial. I had been doing something more burdensome to black out backgrounds--moving the image to photoshop, creating a selection, and pulling down levels for the background. Your approach is preferable for several reasons.

    I often add a bit of a boost in clarity and vibrance to flowers, but I had not been doing it with the adjustment brush.

    The ability to duplicate a brush might be enough to push me to upgrade to LR 5. Most of the new features don't seem all that valuable to me, but this one would be.

    Dan

  3. #3
    benm's Avatar
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    Re: The Power of the Lightroom Adjustment Brush

    Very nicely done. I have a couple of questions on your mask settings. How do you get such a clean mask along the edges of the flower, particularly along the top where there is a lot of edge detail and also where the background flower has nearly the same color as the foreground flower? And how do you get the mask placed in the pointy areas like where the base of the petals meet the stem? Thanks.

  4. #4
    davidedric's Avatar
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    Re: The Power of the Lightroom Adjustment Brush

    Yes very nice indeed, and ditto Ben's questions. I seem to have difficulty getting such a clean edge. What zoom factor do you tend to work to?

  5. #5
    Glenn NK's Avatar
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    Re: The Power of the Lightroom Adjustment Brush

    Quote Originally Posted by benm View Post
    Very nicely done. I have a couple of questions on your mask settings. How do you get such a clean mask along the edges of the flower, particularly along the top where there is a lot of edge detail and also where the background flower has nearly the same color as the foreground flower? And how do you get the mask placed in the pointy areas like where the base of the petals meet the stem? Thanks.
    Ben:

    1) Clean mask along the edges.

    I use a brush with 100% Density and Flow; Auto Mask ON. For relatively simple edges that are well defined (sharp focus), zoom ratio 1:1, and brush diameter of 45 or so. But I frequently vary the brush size to "suit the terrain" so to speak.

    When the detail gets smaller, I use a smaller brush, sometimes about as small as it can be; 2.0 or even 1.0.

    When the detail is really small and intricate, I use a zoom ratio of 3:1, and even occasionally 4:1. This helps in seeing what I'm doing.

    There are images with soft edges and these are more difficult: I might use a Feather of 40 to 60, and cut in quite close to the stem (stems are often a bit soft), and at times even turn Masking off. I don't mind pushing too far into the stem because I then use a negative brush with no Mask (hold down the Alt key) and "reclaim" the stem (also with a feather and no mask). This will produce a soft transition between the stem and the BG.

    2) Clean mask in pointy areas:

    As noted in 1), zoom in as required, and use a very small brush.

    3) There are instances when there is simply is no edge to follow - I freehand it (using a feather and no mask). Using low values of Density and Flow, I sometimes use an "airbrush" style to fade the bottom of a stem into "nothingness".


    Hope this helps.

    Glenn

    PS - I had tried to find an example of "fading into nothingness", and finally found one:
    This isn't a particularly great example, but it does demonstrate the principle. I could have used more finesse (lower values of Density and/or Flow) to make the transition more gradual:

    The Power of the Lightroom Adjustment Brush
    Last edited by Glenn NK; 14th June 2013 at 05:50 PM.

  6. #6
    benm's Avatar
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    Re: The Power of the Lightroom Adjustment Brush

    Thank you! I really appreciate the tips.

  7. #7
    Glenn NK's Avatar
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    Re: The Power of the Lightroom Adjustment Brush

    Quote Originally Posted by benm View Post
    Thank you! I really appreciate the tips.
    Ben:

    You're welcome - if you have any other questions, fire away.

    I think the big thing is to remember that the AB can be used on the whole image, or any part of it, no matter how large or small, using any of the available adjustments/settings.

    Even if one wanted to make one petal on a flower a different colour, it could be done by creating a brush for the one petal, and changing Temp and/or Tint. I had hoped that in LR5 the entire HSL panel would accessible for the brush(es). In fact, it seemed so logical and obvious that I'm disappointed that it's not there. Got my hopes up too high.

    Glenn

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