Lightroom 4: Working With the New Process

(If you’re getting this post through email, click here to view the video.)

Here it is, my second video about the new process in Lightroom 4. In Part One I explained how the new tone controls work; here in Part Two I talk about how to use these new tools to process both low- and high-contrast images. Here are some of the main points:

- Where to begin? If you’ve read my eBook Light and Land, or watched one of my previous videos about curves, you know that in the old process I preferred starting with all the Basic tone controls set at zero, and the point curve linear. Does this still apply in the new process? (1:10)

- Curves or sliders? The new Basic Tone sliders are much better than the old ones; are they good enough to replace the Point Curve? (10:30)

- Does the order matter? Adobe suggests using the Basic tools in order from top to bottom, starting with Exposure, then Contrast, and working down to Highlights, Shadows, Whites, and Blacks—essentially working from the midtones out to the black point and white point. But this contradicts a long-standing tradition in digital imaging of setting the black point and white point first. Should you stand with tradition, or embrace the new order? (13:02)

- Processing a high-contrast image. (21:04)

This video is about 27 minutes long, so, as I said with Part 1, grab your favorite beverage, sit back, relax, and enjoy the show. Spending a little time with this video now will save time later when you’re processing photos. More importantly, I hope that this video will help you get the most out of your images so that they convey what you saw and felt when you pressed the shutter.

As I mention in the video, the best way to learn more about processing images in Lightroom is to take a workshop. There’s are still a couple of spots available in my October workshop, The Digital Landscape: Autumn in Yosemite. This is a comprehensive course covering the entire process from capture to print, with field sessions covering exposure, composition, and everything you do before pressing the shutter, and lab sessions where we process and print the images with Lightroom.

I hope you enjoy Part 2!

—Michael Frye

Related Posts: Lightroom 4: The New Tone Controls; Using Curves in Lightroom and Camera Raw

Michael Frye is a professional photographer specializing in landscapes and nature. He is the author and photographer of The Photographer’s Guide to YosemiteYosemite Meditations, and Digital Landscape Photography: In the Footsteps of Ansel Adams and the Great Masters, plus the eBooks Light & Land: Landscapes in the Digital Darkroom, and Exposure for Outdoor Photography. He has written numerous magazine articles on the art and technique of photography, and his images have been published in over thirty countries around the world. Michael has lived either in or near Yosemite National Park since 1983, currently residing just outside the park in Mariposa, California.


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26 Responses to “Lightroom 4: Working With the New Process”

  1. foosion says:

    Very nice video. Thank you for making it available.

    I find the new basic panel a major improvement, especially the highlight and shadow sliders for high contrast images.

    Did the 4.1 RC fix your issues with losing tone curve information from images imported from LR3?

    • Michael Frye says:

      Thanks Foosion, and I agree that the new basic panel, along with the new underlying engine, is a big improvement. I used a script that Adobe sent to a few people to fix the point curve bug, so I haven’t actually upgraded to the 4.1 RC.

  2. Richard says:

    Great video Michael. I have been having issues with the results I was getting with my post processing in LR4 and now after watching your two videos I understand why. Thank you for taking the time to dig into LR4 and helping us all to learn better ways to use this software.

  3. JayM says:

    That was brilliantly done. Thanks Michael.

  4. Vivienne says:


    Thank YOU for taking the time to make this informative video! I am looking forward to trying some of your suggestions. And I’m looking forward to see what other training videos you make for LR4.

  5. Dave Miller says:

    Great series on Lightroom. Thanks for the insight to the new process. I’ve just started playing around with it and getting used to the new sliders and this will help a lot!

    I’m headed to the Valley tomorrow (maybe Hite’s Cove too). Probably not the best conditions for light, but it will be great to be in Yosemite again!

    Thanks again for taking time out to educate the masses!


  6. Nice video and great advice. I haven’t the possibility to attend your workshop (i live in Italy), so i hope that you update your ebook or share video instructional.

  7. Pradipta Datta says:

    Hi Michael,
    That was another great tutorial – and you’re right, there is a lot to learn in LR4.
    I quite like the way you use images of Yosemite – it is easier for me to relate as I was there last summer. Your C&V ebooks are also great.

  8. [...] Lightroom 4: Working With the New Process [...]

  9. Michael,

    Very helpful video! I have found that LR 4 has helped my post processing considerably. Maybe in a future video you could go over a little on soft proofing and how to import the data needed to do so from the photo paper manufacturers. (The other curve that is important in LR 4 is the “learning curve”!)

  10. Paolo Nadeau says:

    Thank you Michael,

    Part 2 of your LR4 tutorial was a genuine “Eureka” moment for me, but I do have one (several actually) question.

    I notice that you left Zone 1 of the Histogram clipping slightly, even though the rest of the Histogram had great detail.

    How do I determine when it OK to leave some clipping in either Zone 1, or Zone 10 of my Histogram in Post?

    Maybe I’m putting too much thought into this aspect, because your finished photo is excellent.

    I think this falls under the rule that says “sometimes you have to break the rules” :-)

    Thanks again for taking the time out of your schedule to make these tremendous tutorials.

    Take care.

    Smoky Cat Productions
    Jacksonville, FL

    • Michael Frye says:

      Thanks Paolo. There are no rules for all this, but I usually treat highlights and shadows differently. With most images I don’t want highlights clipped – I don’t want anything, except perhaps something tiny, to be pure white. With shadows I sometimes do want some pure black. A little (emphasis on that word) pure black can give an image more snap, and that helps with some photos – especially images of dramatic scenes, since it increases the drama.

      • Paolo Nadeau says:

        Thanks Michael,

        That is a fantastic tip, especially adding “a little” pure black to enhance shadows on some photos.

        Time for me to leave for the corporate job. ;-(

        Thanks again.

        Take care.

        Smoky Cat Productions
        Jacksonville, FL

  11. [...] Lightroom 4: Working With the New Process « In the Moment: Michael Frye’s Landscape Photograp… [...]

  12. Gary Swann says:

    Hello Michael.

    Just a quick thank you for the two LR4 tutorials. They are a great ‘bridge’ for those upgrading from LR3 to LR4. Thank you for taking the time to create and share them :-)


  13. [...] desapercibido cuando este salió ya hace unos cuantos meses. Viendo el otro día uno de los de los vídeo tutoriales de Michael Frye sobre Lightroom 4 descubrí, o tal vez redescubrí, la propiedad de que el nuevo Proceso 2012, o lo que es lo mismo, [...]

  14. [...] the second video I talk about workflow in the new process. I show examples of processing both high-contrast and [...]

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