Learn how to use the Tone Curve in Lightroom and unlock a ton of powerful editing features in this comprehensive Lightroom Tutorial.
The tone curve looks scary. But once you learn to master this Lightroom develop tool you’ll be miles ahead in your photo editing. Today we’re going to look at what the tone curve is for, how to use the tone curve, and adding effects such as filmic fade and split toning. The tone curve is an essential part of Lightroom. With a few quick tricks you’ll be ready to edit better photos and never get confused by the tone curve again.
There are actually a few reasons you’d use the tone curve instead of other settings: It allows for selective contrast. With the contrast slider you have only one set way to add contrast. With the tone curve, you can add contrast in a specific portion of your image without affecting other portions.
The tone curve RGB panel lets you control the levels of blacks and whites to reduce contrast. The contrast slider only allows you to add contrast.
The tone curve lets you set custom black points and white point, allowing you to add a filmic feel to your images and dial in the exact amount of fade you want.
The red, green and blue portions of the tone curve allow you to do all of this with specific color channels. You can tweak color balance in your image, add / remove tones in specific areas (darken greens in just the shadows for instance), whereas the HSL panel luminance only lets you darken or brighten the greens as a whole. Overall the reason is for more control & targeted adjustments.
There are a LOT of things you can do with the tone curve. Many of which can’t be done anywhere else in Lightroom.