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 teaches digital photography workshops and Adobe Photoshop Lightroom training classes. David is an Adobe Certified Expert in Photoshop Lightroom and in Adobe Photoshop. David has lead workshops and seminars for the Rocky Mountain School of Photography, the American Society of Media Photographers, FirstLight Photography Workshops, and he teaches annually at the world-famous Blackberry Farm Resort. For more information on his Photoshop Lightroom training seminars and digital photography field workshops please visit You can also follow daily updates and see new images from David on Google+.

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  1. Jerry says:

    David, Regarding your Chromatic Abberation tip- I tried it, by going to a photo which I am sure I did not work on yet, Followed the steps you laid out but change did not seem to take. Now, is this a setting that works for the NEXT and all subsequent imports only?

    • David Marx says:

      Dear Jerry,

      I believe that you are asking about setting a new camera raw default. If you have indeed set the new default for that camera so that it automatically includes the lateral chromatic aberration repair then you should see the results as soon as you open a new file from that camera. The key words here are new file from that camera. Images from that camera that are already in your Lightroom library will not automatically be changed. Existing files are left alone which is a good thing. If you want to see it work with an existing file then select the appropriate image–again one from that camera–and hit the reset button.

      David Marx

      • Jerry says:

        Thank you. I did set it once before the latest import,, I will try once again and seeing to takes. Is possible when I did it the first time,, I hadn’t hit reset first.

  2. Jerry says:

    Hi David- saw the video for making the Chromatic Aberration setting work full time. I chose a photo that I hadn’t looked at yet since importing, so there would not have been any adjustments applied. I checked the setting for Aberration and went to the Develop mode and hit Default settings. It did not take. When I go to another photo, the check-mark to remove Chromatic Aberration is not chosen. Is there a way you know of to reset the whole procedure and start from scratch?

    • David Marx says:

      Dear Jerry,

      I believe that you missed a step in the Develop Module. The key is to take a fresh image, change only this setting, and then hold down the Alt / Option key (Mac). With the Alt key held down click on the “Set Defaults” button that appears in the lower right where the Reset button ordinarily lives.

      David Marx

  3. Jerry Knaster says:

    Referring to an earlier question I posted yesterday in which I was a bit over zealous in creating multiple destinations for my initial camera imports- can I drag the images into just one of those “folders”, delete the other folder keep my presets intact? I am willing to start from scratch. And re- import all the photos from the two memory cards if that makes a cleaner job of it. It did take several hours to import two 32 gig cards so if I don’t have to do that again it would be preferable. If shoeing you a screen grab of the LR4.3 import window helps, In can try to do that also. Tank you in advance for your help and great tutorial videos.

    • David Marx says:

      Dear Jerry Knaster,

      The good news is that I don’t think that you need to start over. You can certainly move files from folder to folder within Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. See How to Move Folders Using Adobe Photoshop Lightroom.

      If that doesn’t solve the trouble you could select all of the new files and then hit delete. When the delete options dialog pops up pick the REMOVE choice. DO NOT PICK DELETE FROM DISK. This will remove the files from your Lightroom index but not from the hard drive. Once removed you could use the import with move command to have Lightroom pick them up and put them all into the right folder and then add them back into your index. See Using Adobe Photoshop Lightroom’s Import with Move Command.

      Bigger picture though I think you are making your life harder by naming your image storage folders. I know that I am not going to win this debate with you today but you are making your life more complicated by using folder names like “Israel.” The best, and easiest, way to organize digital images is with a folder structure that goes YEAR / YEAR-MONTH-DAY using only numbers (ex. 2013/2013-03-17). I urge you and the ten thousand others with whom I have had this debate to let Lightroom build this kind of hierarchy for you within your Photos Go Here folder. Save descriptors like “Israel” for your metadata– location metadata fields, keywords, and captions. See Searching with Metadata in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4’s Map Module.

      David Marx

      • Jerry says:

        David, certainly at this early stage I am not wedded to a name system. What I had done was also make a preset for that with the date system, thinking it would also apply the date within,for example, the “Israel” folder. Too complicated? Ill go back and try your suggestion. I’m wondering if they way I had it set up was making the import take so long. It took hours for the approx 28-32 mb photos to load. Thank you.

  4. Chad says:

    Thanks for taking the time to do this Dave. Can you recommend a good tutorial on the new album layout tool???

  5. Awesome!! You’re the man Dave, thanks for the edu’mcation!

  6. Ivan says:

    After seeing your video about the new chromatic aberation tool, I decided to give LR4 a try (I own LR3.6).
    I tested it on a picture taken with an old, analogue lens with lots of CA. The result is very disappointing, in fact, I see absolutely NO effect at all. I was working on a jpg. Could that be the reason? (You were working on a DNG file.)

    • David Marx says:

      Dear Ivan,

      There are many types of chromatic aberration. New algorithm is good at “lateral” aberration. Perhaps your image suffers from other types of fringing. DNG is just a container so I would not think that the file format is the answer this time.

      David Marx

  7. Eric says:

    Yes, this new basic panel, and specially the new highlight slider is simply game changing! Amazing how we can now recover details in previously blownout areas. Well done Adobe!

    And as usual, thank you for your videos David, I’d love to jump into one of your seminars or field workshop but… there is the ocean between us. If one day you come in the french alps…

    Oh, last thing : what about your mic David, isn’t it time to offer you a brand new one?

    • David Marx says:

      Dear Eric,

      Thank you for the compliments. I would love to work with a better mic, better audio enhancement skills, and a nice quiet sound studio! One of these days….

      David Marx