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Mon, May 9, 2011 6:06 AM


Lightroom: Smart Presets (aka Auto Styles)

...could also have been called Parameter-ized Auto-Toning + Color Presets, or something like that.

The idea is simple: the ability to select a style for a photo, and have Lightroom automatically adjust tone and color(if specified) to give the specified style.

My problem with (non-auto-toning) develop presets is that they can't include any tone controls, since proper toning depends on starting point. And they can't necessarily include color enhancements either, because what's required may also depend on intrinsic saturation and how much contrast was applied...

My problem with Lightroom's auto-toning is that it always tries to do the same thing: no clipping of shadows, and well, I'm not sure how it comes up with exposure & brightness sometimes. And, so I almost always have to adjust everything after auto-toning anyway, so its not much good to me.

My problem with auto-toning presets (besides the fact that auto-toning doesn't work that good) is that tone controls applied after auto-toning are not applied relatively, taking the fun out of having auto-toned it in the first place.

So the idea here is to dial in a style, then maybe twist a couple control sliders, and then click the "do it" button, to have Lightroom analyze the photo, select a calibration profile (maybe), apply highlight recovery and keep brightness low iff the "highlights are important" slider was cranked up, and down the black and/or add some fill iff "open shadows" slider was cranked up.

In other words, improve auto-tone by allowing it to take hints, and select an appropriate color profile too (maybe), but in any case have it also adjust vibrancy/saturation & temperature (if enabled). Example sliders:

- contrasty-ness
- saturated-ness
- temperature style
- preserve highlights
- preserve shadows
- mid-tone bias
- sharpness
- detail

So, contrasty-ness takes into account the native contrast of the shot, and the color profile, and is permitted to add clarity as well if mid-tones are lacking in contrast. i.e. contrasty-ness controls the tonal punch desired, regardless of how its achieved.

Likewise saturated-ness takes into account the native saturation and any saturation increases that have occurred as a result of contrast adjustment.

temperature style - so algorithm can assess native warmth and adjust temperature according to the combination of specified temperature style and native warmth.

Preserve highlights - this would determine whether some highlights are allowed to blow out in the interest of maintaining a high dynamic range contrasty look, or whether all highlights should be recovered, or whether some headroom should exist at the top end.

Preserve shadows - this would determine whether shadows are allowed to clip a little, or a lot, or not at all, or if some "headroom should be reserved in the blacks".

mid-tone bias - like a target mid-tone brightness, but again - takes into account intrinsic brightness in the picture.

sharpness - desired sharpness. Lightroom to adjust radius and amount based on pre-adjustment scrutiny - ideally this would adjust sharpness adaptively to normalize sharpness falloff in edges and corners.

detail - desired detail. Lightroom to adjust detail and noise reduction based on this setting and pre-adjustment scrutiny.

So, the general idea is that user could have presets for doing bright flower shots, and other presets for doing darker sunset shots, and another for doing portraits..., and after selecting a preset, user could apply it, tweak settings, then reapply until the look is about right, then adjust the regular develop settings if desired to fine tune...

The photos would be very close to final straight out of the gate, because the target style would have already been calibrated, and the results would not be dependent on initial exposure bias or intrinsic contrast/saturation or what have you.

The idea is to define a small set of sliders that can be saved as smart style presets that govern the target style of the photo, but rely on Lightroom to scrutinize the photo to determine what adjustments need to be made to accomplish the target style. It combines elements of auto-toning, auto-temperature, and presets, to allow photos to be adjusted very close to a final look with a single click, regardless of initial exposure and intrinsic contrast and saturation and sharpness/detail.

Presently, develop presets are absolute, and are not based on any evaluation of photo.
Presently, relative presets have been invented and are being used via the DevAdjust plugin, but they don't take present tone and color into account. A native implementation of relative adjustments and presets is being considered by Adobe, but I doubt it will be taking a scrutiny of the photo into account either (this may be wrong - Adobe may very already have in mind to improve auto-toning for use with relative presets). AutoTone does scrutinize the photo but is always targeting the same style, and often doesn't get that right anyway, which means it only sometimes comes up with the correct values, even for the "generic" look it is targeting.

So, this feature request is about improving auto-toning to be smarter, better, more comprehensive, and allowing the controlling parameter settings to be saved as smart presets.

I imagine the "Auto" button in the Basic section being removed and replaced by an entire section named "Auto" or something, in the right-hand develop panel.


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