Personalizing Lightroom’s Amazing New “Auto Tone” Feature
Unrelated Cherry-Blossom Snow this photo, from this recent photoshoot , has nothing to do with this post -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2018 Jeffrey Friedl,
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 130mm — 1/640 sec, f/2.8, ISO 140 — image data
Unrelated Cherry-Blossom Snow
this photo, from this recent photoshoot, has nothing to do with this post

Lightroom 7.2 introduced an entirely new version of its Auto Tone feature, a one-click adjustment of photo brightness and contrast to hopefully-pleasing results. The prior version of Auto Tone used what might be called a stupid, brute force method that merely adjusted tone ranges to try find a numeric balance. It wasn't very useful.

The new Auto Tone, however, is fantastic, being powered by an artificial-intelligence engine trained with thousands of hand-tweaked photos from highly-regarded artists. It does a sufficiently-good job that I now use it as part of my new-photo workflow, to give me a better starting point for my own edits. (I should point out, though, that a good photographer wouldn't need any kind of better starting point for edits; a good photographer will do the work prior to pressing the shutter button. I'm not a good photographer.)

As good as the new Auto Tone is, I've found it tends to be a bit heavy handed with saturation for my tastes. I gather that the artists who worked on the photos used to train the AI engine simply prefer to lay on heavy saturation to make the photo pop, and perhaps this is why they are highly regarded and I am not, but it seems cheap to me. I'd prefer not to use that as my starting point.

So, to help quicken my workflow in this area, I added new features to my Bag of Goodies plugin for Lightroom that allow one to perform a personalized Auto Tone.

Your personalizations are configured in a dialog brought up by invoking:

File > Plugin Extras > Configure Personalized Auto Tone and Apply

The configuration dialog is this monstrosity:

The plugin allows each of the nine develop settings that Auto Tone touches to be canceled, scaled back, or enhanced. The details are explained on the plugin home page.

Note that even though the new Auto Tone was introduced in Lightroom 7.2, the plugin requires 7.3 to work, as that's when Adobe added the hooks that make the plugin possible.

One comment so far...

Am interested in learning more.

— comment by Will Rudd on April 23rd, 2018 at 10:04am JST (1 month ago) comment permalink
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