Lightroom: Auto-tone analysis should apply post-crop, scanned photos a problem

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In Lightroom 4.0 (did not check the release candidates 1 or 2 for 4.1) auto-tone (apart from current issues) applies to the full image not post-crop. This is a problem with scanned photos (paper photos, not film) where the borders contribute significantly (and falsely) to the overall analysis for auto-tone. Large white borders (which you would hardly ever keep for a scanned photo) distract auto-tone function.

With the potential of a great auto-tone available in 4.1, I would like to crop the thousand strong photos, then apply auto-tone to fix them up as best it can before manually reviewing/adjusting each one.
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SteveB

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Posted 6 years ago

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Chris Packrat

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Same problem with photos assembled as panoramas under Photoshop then reimported in LR : the "white" borders wich inevitably surround the panorama (if not cropped out in PS) appear to be taken into account by the auto-tone function.
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Frank Elston

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Not entirely satisfactory workaround but if you are eliminating the white border by cropping each shot export the cropped version and reimport then use auto tone.

When I use a scanner, as opposed to a RAW camera shot, I use a family of pre-sets for scanning to optimise the original capture.

The scans Assumed to be TIFF or JPEG have the data baked-in which means autotone has to work with less data than a RAW image. A RAW file would lose the data in the export/re-import - unless using DNG.
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Peter McClintock

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This is a really important topic. I have to import hundreds of transparency and film scans. The scanner software does have an auto crop but it is not 100% reliable so I do the crop in Lightroom.

This means that Auto-tone is effectively useless. Exporting and reimporting or cropping in Photoshop are both a significant overhead to the workflow.

Surely it is obvious that the Auto-tone should work on the cropped image only or provide an option with associated shortcut.
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Rob Cole

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|> "Surely it is obvious that the Auto-tone should work on the cropped image only".

It's obvious to me too.
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SteveB

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Peter, yes it is effectively useless given Auto-tone's behaviour in 4.0, 4.1RC1, 4.2RC2 for photos with white borders. However 4.1 has just been released and preliminary analysis shows that it has been addressed for photos with bright whites in it. I will try over the weekend but I am hoping this means positive things for scanned photos with borders.

A quick test shows it is not applied post-crop (I really only reported this a couple of days after Adobe finalized the 4.1 release) but I hope the recent changes will make it less of an issue. I am not entirely confident as there are big differences between small bright white areas and white borders.

The positive thing is I have ignored auto-tone in prior versions of Lightroom but with its new management of highlights I want it to work automatically for all my photos and now be part of my workflow, hence me raising it. We will see :)
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Peter McClintock

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Thanks. The black borders on my scans really throw it out. My current workflow is either to crop the original in photoshop or just not use auto-tone.

Pity :(
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Rob Cole

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It's not just scanned photos that are problematic. One of the most common reasons to crop is due to an over-bright or over-dark region that would be best to exclude, whether due to scanning process, or in the course of normal photography.
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Rikk Flohr, Champion

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What happens if you want to crop differently later-after autotoning and tweaking to your satisfaction? You have to reapply Autotone? All your develop settings??? Start over?
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Rob Cole

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Same thing that happens if you manually tone it optimally for different cropped regions - come on Rikk.
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Rikk Flohr, Champion

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Think about what you just said and get back to me, Rob. Really?
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Todd Shaner

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From a purely "technical implementation" viewpoint, providing an Auto-tone option to use the whole image area OR just the cropped area seems like a necessity.

No matter how well you design the Auto-tone algorithm the results are always going to be better if it's only sampling the picture area you want in the final image.

The potential downside is if you change or remove the crop the image probably won't be optimally Auto-toned, which will require you to start all over. This is especially true with PV2012's image adaptive Tone controls. As long as this is implemented as a "user selectable option" I don't see any issue.
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Rob Cole

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I can't see any reason for an option. Are there *any* circumstances where you would *want* the region cropped out to be considered in the auto-toning? I've been trying very hard, and I still can't imagine any such circumstance...
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Todd Shaner

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I guess it would be more a matter of workflow preference, rather than what provides the "best" image toning.

Take for example a commercial shoot that has many different product items in an ad display. Suppose you later decide to crop out each of the products separately using virtual copies and want the toning to be as uniform as possible. When touching up one of the cropped virtual copies you decide to start over by hitting Auto-tone, the image will very likely be much different than the original uncropped image.

Without a user preference setting you know for sure there's going to be complaints from some users that, "LR4 auto tone continues to be a disaster" – It's the nature of the beast!
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Rob Cole

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In that scenario, I would expect the user to tone one (the master) and sync the cropped virtual copies. In general I'm a big fan of options for new handling instead of altering existing handling, but in this case, I'm still not convinced - perhaps we'll see whether Adobe is or not...
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Todd Shaner

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Yep that's what I would do, but were hoping (praying?) that eventually using Auto-tone on the original image is going to "nail it" and not require further adjustment. When on a tight schedule to complete a business assignment there’s always a trade-off between taking the time to do the “best” versus “good enough.”

Regardless, it should be relatively easy to put a checkbox option in LR's Preferences for 'Auto-Tone: Use full-image when cropped.’ All it has to do is tell the Auto-tone routine to use the full-image (current) or crop area only. Adobe can make “crop area” the Auto-tone default setting, since that best fits the majority of usage.
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Rob Cole

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Fair enough. - there is something to be said for keeping things how they were, by default, if possible, just cause people were used to it, and may have been taking advantage of it, whether you or me or Adobe would have thought of it or not. Perhaps Alt-Autotone to auto-tone the cropped area(?)
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Rob Cole

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If you redo a crop that has toning optimized for a relatively dark area, then you have to re-optimize the toning if you move the crop to a relatively light area (or vice versa) - no way around that whether you use auto-tone to assist, or not. I can't think of a single thing better about including regions outside the crop zone when auto-toning. This falls in the category of glaring omission, in my opinion, and should be rectified.
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Marcus

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I'd take Todd's idea one step further and allow the user to select the region to be used in the analysis REGARDLESS if the photo is cropped. I'm usually much more interested in getting the primary subject optimized and less concerned with balancing the whole image. That said, I could easily crop, autotone, un-crop. That would be miles better than how it work now IF Auto Tone actually worked well. Step One, FIX EXPOSURE ON AUTOTONE FOR ALL PHOTOs. People might be thinking their horrible autotone results are from data outside the crop when the results are generally poor regardless. It's just less predictably poor.
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Todd Shaner

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Agreed, it should allow operation similar to the way camera exposure metering works. The norm today is "Evaluative" metering, which takes readings over the entire image frame. Most cameras also allow selecting a "Partial" or even "Spot" area to determine the exposure setting, which is similar to using the "Crop" area. Autotone adjusts a lot more than just exposure, but the analogy is still valid.
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SteveB

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Todd, you are brilliant, that is what is missing. The controls in lightroom do reflect camera operations, so should the Exposure be based on a specific metering area and approach. Selecting Partial would ignore white borders in a scan. Of course the issue of overly dark photos will still occur if there was a bright source of light inside the metering area, so weighting the exposure based on its distribution in the photo is still required.

The chosen metering approach would normally be targeted at the middle of the photo and could be dragged around the photo if required and potentially resized from a standard "pre-defined" area of the cropped photo. Once applied, you then can fine tune manually (as you do with +/- EV controls).
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Rob Cole

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OttoTone supports auto-toning which excludes region outside the crop zone.

Actually, it's better than that - you can define auto-toning to include any region you want, without changing the original crop.

For example, if you have a backlit portrait shot, you can optimize auto-toning for the face, despite the fact that around the face is very bright, thus preventing over-dark auto-tone. Likewise, if you have a portrait against a black background, you can optimize for the face, and avoid having it over-brightened by auto-toning.
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Maxim Imakaev

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It sounds like everyone including Adobe gave up on this topic. Any updates? To the best of my knowledge, it is still missing in Lightroom as of 2016.
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John R. Ellis, Champion

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Yup, still missing.  And the OttoTone plugin mentioned above is no longer available, unfortunately.
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John R. Ellis, Champion

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Adobe finally agreed with you all (well, most of you): The new Auto Tone in LR 7.1 is based on the cropped region, not the entire image: 
https://helpx.adobe.com/lightroom/help/whats-new.html#LightroomClassicCCv71December2017
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Marcus

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I'll look forward to testing it out. I used to really want this, but I've come to realize the auto adjustments are so bad I would rarely use them. Maybe they'll improve by not using discarded information or maybe auto tone is just too hard to get right for my scenarios.
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Frank Elston

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Typical  - another example of a 'too late is as good as never' fix from Adobe.

I cannot see the benefits of paying more than my mobile phone contract to access Lightroom bundled with software for which I have no use i.e. Photoshop. So as I bid farewell to Lightroom - as a long term desktop user - I won't be able to take advantage of this long overdue update to Autotone.