We all take flat, lifeless looking images from time to time. Poor light or weather or even shooting Raw can give us images that lack contrast and punch. In all these cases it is possible to recover that lack of contrast in post production, returning life and punch to the image. To many starting in photography and Lightroom, the obvious choice to boost contrast is the contrast slider. Even the most basic editing suites have such a tool. However, as tools go, it is somewhat of a sledgehammer, lacking the finesse that other options we have. Today we are going to look at better options for boosting contrast in Adobe Lightroom.
The Black and White Sliders
The first way we can boost contrast is using a combination of the Black and White sliders in the Basic section of the Develop module in Lightroom. We do this in conjunction with the histogram. Slide the black slider to the left until the left edge of the histogram is about to spill over the side. Move the white slider to the right until that is about to spill over the right side. What you will see is a big improvement in contrast but overall your image may be too dark or too light. You can now use the shadows and highlights tool to correct for the mid tones exposures. As you do this keep a keen eye on the histogram to make sure you are not pushing to far past the limits. Note: It is generally considered good practice to make sure your image's histogram is not stacked against either the left (shadows) or right (highlights) side. To do so means you are losing detail in absolute black or absolute white pixels.