Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4′s Big Develop Module Changes

January 09, 2012 | | Comments 18

New Features In The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 Beta Develop Module

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom v4 Beta New Graduated Filter Controls

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom v4 Beta New Graduated Filter Controls

Each version of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom introduces exciting new tools for serious photographers and Lightroom 4 Beta is no different. This time, the software engineering team has introduced some new features and improved some old ones, like the chromatic aberration repair tool. The biggest change to Photoshop Lightroom 4 Beta’s image Develop Module are the new sliders that the 2012 Process Version uses in the Basic Panel.

New 2012 Process Version Basic Panel Controls

“If I could return in twenty years or so, I would hope to see astounding interpretations of my most expressive images. It is true that no one could print my negatives as I did, but they might well get more out of them by electronic means.” –Ansel Adams

Process Version 2012 introduces new sliders to the Basic image development panel which replace the old Exposure, Brightness, Fill Light, and Blacks sliders that we have come to know and love. It is going to take those of us who have been using this software for many years a little while to adjust to these new controls, but they are indeed improvements. Using the new sliders, we can now pull more detail out of the brightest highlight areas and the darkest shadows in our images, which will certainly be appreciated by landscape, architecture, and astral photographers, among others.

New Lateral Chromatic Aberration Repair

Chromatic aberration is the fancy scientific term for those weird color fringes that we often see around the edges of objects in our photographs; it is a photographic flaw and is something that we want to remove from our images whenever possible. We have been able to repair chromatic aberration for many years in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom using repair sliders that could hide this flaw. They were effective, but it took a bit of time to use them well and the appropriate settings often varied dramatically from image to image. In Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3, there was the option to automate this repair for certain lenses using the new Lens Profile data.

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 Beta uses an elegant new algorithm to remove chromatic aberration for all lenses. The new code is so good, we no longer need any sliders or manual controls. Fixing this common flaw now merely requires toggling a single switch! I am so impressed with Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 Beta’s ability to find and eliminate this problem that I have made the repair command the default behavior for my Lightroom Catalog. This video tutorial demonstrates how easy it is to fix chromatic aberration now and how to make its removal a completely automatic process!

Expanded Graduated Filter And Local Adjustment Brush Controls

“Were I entering photography now as a young man, I undoubtedly would deeply concern myself with color. I stayed with black-and-white simply because I enjoyed the controls that the process offered. I feel strongly that color photography is one of the major expressions of our time.” — Ansel Adams

I was floored when I first saw the Graduated Filter back in the Adobe Photoshop Lightroom version 2 days. The Local Adjustment Brush is nice, too, but when I really need this kind of precise image enhancement, I prefer working with Adobe Photoshop CS5 or one of the Nik software plugins like Viveza. As a sports and landscape photographer, I consider the Graduated filter to be a vital part of my image processing routines and almost all of my images are improved with graduated filters.

I am delighted to announce that Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 Beta gives us even more controls when using these tools. The new Graduated Filter and Adjustment Brush use the Process Version 2012 controls which expand their ability to recover fringe highlight and shadow detail. We can also change the white balance of the affected area when using these tools and are able to add or reduce noise and moire.

In this video tutorial, I take an old favorite, an image that I have been pleased with for many years, and push it even further using the new Graduated Filter. Although you can’t see the comparison in this video, I promise that the results I get now on this image using the new Lightroom 4 Beta tools far surpass anything that I have been able to accomplish until now!

I love it when new and improved software forces me to rework my old favorites, and even more so when the results exceed my expectations. Getting better results with new tools always reminds me that the digital processing technology available to photographers is continually improving and that my best images are never truly “done!”

Artistic Effects and Precise Color Corrections Are Now Possible Using Per Channel Curves Controls

Cross processed film effect on a wizard walking across the desert photo

Cross processed film effect created using per channel curves in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom v4 Beta.

When I used to teach numerous Adobe Photoshop classes, I would equate the Curves command with the “ring of power” from J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic fantasy novels. Curves, like the “one ring,” can be both beautiful and terrifying in its ability to radically transform an image. In earlier versions of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, we were stuck using Parametric Curves on the RGB composite (luminance) channel only. The Tone Curve in earlier versions of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom was a nice tool, but it was limited in its powers. In Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 Beta, we are finally able to use this tool the same way it is used in Adobe Photoshop CS5.

For some photographers, per channel curves will be a blessing. Those needing very precise color correction or looking for a new method to create “artistic effects” are going to love the expanded capabilities. Other photographers are going to ignore this new feature entirely and, for a few, this will be terrifying. More than any other control, messing with the per channel curves can radically alter your image. Fortunately, you can always hit Reset in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom and undo any horrific experiment.

One of the things that I like to do with Curves in Adobe Photoshop is to simulate the look that we used to get by “cross processing” our film. This stylized use of strange color is not appropriate for every image, but there are times when it creates a wonderful, dramatic mood.

Mark S Johnson Photoshop Workbench 3In this video tutorial, I show examples of the cross processed look from my mentors Athena Lonsdale and Elizabeth Stone. I create the cross processed film look in this video by following an old Photoshop recipe from one of Mark S. Johnson’s fantastic Photoshop eBooks. I have mentioned Mark’s videos, books, and workshops on this site before because he is one of my favorite Photoshop instructors. If you are looking for cutting-edge Photoshop skills and artistic inspiration, please check out Mark’s website!

Related Tutorials:

Attend One of Our Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Seminars or a Digital Photography Field Workshop!

If you find our tutorials useful, please consider joining us for one of our Adobe Photoshop Lightroom seminars or a digital photography field workshop. We will be teaching Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 classes all over the country this year and leading digital photography workshops to some of America’s most scenic destinations. Learning from the web is great, but a video tutorial is no substitute for the patient, hands-on instruction that we offer you in a structured classroom environment or a one-on-one training session. Mastering Photoshop Lightroom is much easier for those who seek out expert guidance!


Filed Under: (05) Lightroom Image Enhancement (Basic)(06) Lightroom Image Enhancement (Advanced)Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Tutorials


About the Author: David Marx is a digital photography instructor whose engaging teaching style inspires photographers of all skill levels. David is an Adobe Certified Lightroom Expert. To learn more about David's Adobe Photoshop Lightroom software training seminars and digital photography field workshops please visit or follow David Marx on Google+.