Lightroom: Auto-Exposure in addition to Auto-Tone

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Mods, please don't roll this into another thread. I've posted this in the past and it's been lost in noise.

One of the on-going issues with applying develop presets, particularly on import, is when you'd like LR to "ballpark" exposures using Auto tone. The major issue here is that Auto Tone controls all the sliders in the "Basic" develop pane, meaning any control you'd like to have over them is taken away. And, even if you decide to apply Auto Tone on Import and then apply your own, or a third party preset afterwards, if Auto tone still has control over the Basic pane, any of those settings included in your preset are overridden (or negated would be a better word).

I don't know about anyone else, but all of my develop presets, and all those third party presets I have purchased, seek to apply some changes to sliders in the Basic pane. But two sliders rarely touched by the presets are White Balance and Exposure.

If Adobe could add an Auto Exposure option that controls ONLY the Exposure slider, this would fit perfectly with most develop presets without clashing and give us the option of having LR set a ballpark exposure whilst our presets control DR and contrast options (see below). And, let's face it, anyone using a preset that includes an exposure preset, won't be selecting Auto Exposure anyway.

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Shane Betts

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Posted 1 year ago

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Michel DELFELD

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It is very simple for me, I never use an Auto process, I hate to be forced in a corner from where I cannot escape anymore.... This a statement I have regarding all developing softwares. 
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Shane Betts

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Thanks Michel. Two points: Firstly, there is no corner into which you are forced. LR is non-destructive. And secondly, nonetheless this is fine for you, so this thread has nothing to offer for you.
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Michel DELFELD

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OK Shane, you are very ...... kind?
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Roelof Moorlag

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Good argumented idea Shane, i vote for it
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Shane Betts

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Thanks Roelof. 
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Todd Shaner, Champion

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You can do this now using two steps. First create a Develop preset that applies only Contrast, Highlights, Shadows, Whites, and Blacks all set to 0.

1) Select ALL image files, set Auto Sync, and  hit Auto Tone.
2) Apply the Develop Preset with Contrast, Highlights, Shadows, Whites, and Blacks all set to 0 and unselect Auto Sync.

You can't do this using an Import preset, but pretty easy to do none the less.

BTW–You can apply specific Auto Tone control settings such as Exposure to individual files by holding down the SHIFT key and double-clicking the Tone control's name. Enjoy!
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Simon Chen, Principal Computer Scientist

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or holding down the SHIFT key and double-clicking on the respective slider thumb. 
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Shane Betts

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Thanks Todd. So, let me understand what you're saying here. I can set a Develop preset (which can't be used on import) where I can force Auto Tone NOT to set the "other" Basic pane sliders, so long as I'm happy for all those sliders to be set to zero? Hmmm. Interesting but I'm afraid I can't see a lot of use for that "feature".

The whole point I'm getting to here is that, when you're importing 1,000 images a day, it would be an enormous time (read: money) saving to be able to hit "Import" and come back to 1,000 images all somewhere close to where they need to be and requiring only minimal tweaking to deliver. If it takes 15 seconds per image to do this stuff using these kinds of "handy" features, that adds up to 15,000 seconds a day. That's over  four hours! I think this is something worth addressing.

Simon Chen, Do I understand you work at Adobe?
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Todd Shaner, Champion

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Shane, you can accomplish the objective of quickly applying just Auto Tone Exposure to a group of imported files in two very easy steps using LR's 'Auto Sync' mode as I outlined above.

https://www.lightroomforums.net/threads/development-module-how-do-you-apply-auto-settings-to-multipl...

Step #1 applies Auto Tone to all of the selected import images.

Step #2 removes the unwanted Auto Tone Contrast, Highlights, Shadows, Whites, and Blacks settings using the Develop preset, which returns them all back to their 0 default setting.

Using this two-step procedure with the custom Develop preset should take no more than 15 seconds to apply Auto Tone Exposure to 1 or 1,000+ image files. You also apply Auto WB to a group of imported image files using Auto Sync. This would require a 3rd step and also would take no more than 15 seconds to apply Auto WB to all of those image files.

Sync, Auto Sync, and the Quick Develop panel tools will definitely reduce the time required to edit a batch of image files.
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Shane Betts

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Please understand, those who feel I'm being unreasonable or grumpy, not everyone runs a photography business (or hobby) where individually honing each shot to perfection is possible. Some of us need to batch process large numbers of shots and get them delivered in order to turn a buck and (it seems to me, at least) one of the major reasons for paying for an application like LR each month is to help streamline our workflows to the max so we can deliver the best shots we can in the most profitable way possible. 

I fully get that, for many, the idea of using Auto Exposure over a batch of images is as appealing as eating worms but, for some of us, have software "ballpark" our images in bulk could make the difference between a viable business model and a job at McDonalds.
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NWB

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Sorry, but no. Shift Double clicking on 'Exposure' in Library does nothing but rollover the colour of the text. In Develop, it does the same as shift double clicking the slider.

I will carry on doing this manually until there is something that works, probably an auto-level, as that is a finite value in most images. Trying to second guess a midpoint value for an image without knowing content / context will always fail (dark animal, dark background is impossible without intelligence to determine subject. Mathematical analysis will always over-brighten the image).
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Shane Betts

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NWB, of course it's never going to be right. Even in a time of facial recognition software, LR will never know what we actually wanted the image to look like. Sure, they can bring all manner of scene sampling to the table and they'd sure do a hell of a lot better than in-camera meters that are still partying like it's 1899, trying to bring everything to 18% grey when they should have switched to ETTR 15 years ago, but all I'm asking here is to ballpark my images so they all look somewhere about in the neighbourhood so I can spend my time tweaking instead of needing to do a rough exposure pass on hundreds or thousands of images when I have real estate images or a massive school group to get delivered.

Can we try not to muddy the waters here? No wonder Adobe never implement any new features when everyone starts nay-saying and dreamlisting and philosophising and Adobe goes off to reinvent the wheel when all I'm asking for is a freakin' checkbox in a develop preset that does what can already be selected in another way.

One has to ask if Adobe understands that, by placing all their customer feedback into forums, just how much noise they generate. I'm sure it's counter productive.
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NWB

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Shane, I think  your comment 'muddying the waters' is not really appropriate? I have a tool, in another piece of RAW software that does exactly what you and I both want to see in LR. I was involved in its development, but that is another story... Suggesting that Adobe take a look is probably more helpful than muddy?

And yes, forums are a very double edged sword. Too much noise for sure, but ideas too..
(Edited)
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Shane Betts

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NWB, by "muddying the waters" I meant reducing the clarity.

When I was a forum leader at Blackmagic Design the problem I found was that one guy suggests "A" which, in this case, is very straight forward and maybe half an hours coding, including making a coffee. But, because Adobe want to cut out the amount of emails their support guys have to answer by running a public forum as the only way to contact them (we still took emails back then), pretty soon there are suggestions ranging from B-Z along with a bunch of people chiming in to say that A was a bad idea in the first place because it's something they'd personally never use. And because the guys from Adobe only call by once in a while, by the time they get to the thread, it's pages and pages of conflicting and competing views and opinions.

So now, instead of finding an idea that will take a coder half an hour to address, they're trying to take all the various suggestions and wish lists into consideration and deciding that, in order to do it all, it's too big for a dot update and it's going to have to wait until a full version update and, as they're so far along on version 2017 that it'll have to wait until 2018, which might be released in 2019 and another few years go by and we still get nothing.

This is not aimed at you specifically, you're just the last one in line to reply to the guy from Adobe, whose attention I'm trying to get. Don't take it personally, I'm just trying to keep my simple little time saving idea up near the top of the pile so maybe, just maybe, Adobe might see the sense in it and give it to some coder with nothing else to do before lunch.
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Unfortunately this happens all too often. The title of this post is pretty clear, which is to provide the current Auto Tone Exposure as a separate Auto function that can be used in a preset. Given the current issue with Auto Tone application to multiple image files it would appear that also needs to be "fixed."

Changes to improve the Auto functions such as better Exposure setting should be requested in  a separate post as a Problem or Idea report. If you do so I suggest also adding that SHIFT click Whites and Blacks values change the Auto Tone applied values. The rest of the Auto Tone settings do not exhibit this behavior, so clearly another bug. To demonstrate this bug apply Auto Tone to an image and then SHIFT click each of the Tone control names.
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Shane Betts

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I feel I need to point out what I'm suggesting here.

Firstly, this is a minor coding job. LR already has two ways to invoke the Auto Exposure routine (that I'm aware of), 1. as part of Auto Tone and 2. through shift-double clicking on the slider. All I'm asking is for it to be given it's own button.

Secondly, this would totally address a long-standing bug as linked by John above. Gone. Eradicated. Never to return. 

Surely that must qualify as a win/win?
(Edited)
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NWB

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Hi Shane, I absolutely support your request. Auto tone, though nobly intended, is essentially useless for me too.  I shoot wildlife, people, interiors and vehicles. Auto Tone simply does not work for a majority of these subjects. 

A simple Auto Exposure option would save me enormous amount of work, as I too frequently need to import / process many hundreds of images with tight deadlines.  Theoretically, it is possible to set exposure of one image and then use the  Photo > Develop > Match total exposures, but again, it does not work reliably.

Bob - I read Simon Chen's post, but we are talking here of a basic tool that needs to work on the majority of images, and it does not.  - we should not need workarounds.

Going back to Capture One which I worked with for many years, there is an auto levels tool that does exactly what is needed on 90% or more of images #SuggestiontoAdobe
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That is a great idea and very useful if Adobe implements it so that the image files are updated real-time instead of as a background operation. I've added my vote. I would also like to see the current Auto Tone bug fixed as well, but that may be a more challenging issue since it requires more processor utilization (i.e. more 'Auto' settings calculations.

On my modest system it takes ~3.0 sec. to apply Auto Tone to a 21 megapixel raw file. Using SHIFT click on Exposure it takes abut 0.25 seconds. With 1,000 image files (1,0000 x .25) it would take ~2.5 minutes. No need to do that as a background operation–Put it into the foreground and show it in the taskbar. If necessary Adobe could even lock the Develop module and Quick Develop panels and show 'Calculating' in the taskbar. This would prevent someone from applying a Develop preset before the Auto Tone operations completed. Just thinking out loud here.......
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"I would also like to see the current Auto Tone bug fixed as well, but that may be a more challenging issue since it requires more processor utilization (i.e. more 'Auto' settings calculations)...On my modest system it takes ~3.0 sec. to apply Auto Tone to a 21 megapixel raw file. "

I think fixing the bug is very straightforward and would have acceptable impact on CPU utilization (about 0.1 sec/photo).

Fixing the bug involves about one line of code. When Auto Tone is applied by a preset, internally LR just sets a flag "auto tone applied" on each photo. When a photo with that flag set is edited in Develop, or when a preview is built for it, LR computes the actual auto tone settings at that point.  The bug is that LR doesn't compute the actual auto tone settings before applying a preset.  That can be fixed with the same line of code that's already present in Develop and building previews:

if photo:autoToneFlag () then photo:applyAutoTone () end

It takes about 0.13 sec on my system to calculate the auto-tone settings for a 24 MP photo.  I measured this in two ways:

- Clicking the Auto button in the Basic Panel appears to take effect instantaneously (which means it takes less than 0.25 secs or so).  

- I measured the difference in time it takes to build previews for 100 24 MP photos after applying the auto-tone preset and then after applying a preset with exposure = +1.  (Each measurement started with an empty camera raw cache and .lrdata deleted.)

The impact of fixing the bug means that applying a preset after applying auto tone would cost an extra 0.13 secs/photo, or 130 secs/1000 photos.  (LR already displays a progress bar when you apply a preset in Library, so there's no change needed in the user interface.)
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Todd Shaner, Champion

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Thanks John. I checked the time to apply Auto Tone to a single raw image file again and it is happening instantaneously, so your observations appear correct (<0.25 sec.). Not sure why I was seeing 3 sec. previously. It does beg the question if all that's required is correction of a single line of code....then why hasn't Adobe fixed this by now (LR 4>5>6)? Anyhow, whatever it takes the "fix" is long overdue!
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Shane Betts

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I know the time taken to Auto Tone an individual image is small but, when LR is dealing with large numbers on import, the time will compound and with it, the opportunities for error. Somewhere in there, with the current iteration, LR loses track of which images have been processed and which have not and inconsistencies crop up. However, roll all the settings into one preset and the problem simply goes away.

We all have different needs and our individual workflows to address them. Personally, I have no need whatsoever for Auto Tone as the first thing I do once it's done is change all the sliders except Exposure. However long it takes to set those sliders the first time is wasted time when I'm just going to reset them anyway.
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NWB

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Real time makes absolute sense. I'm not expecting absolute perfection but if 90% of the images are right, or close-too, then preview to clients is that much quicker and my eyes are saved a little bit of pain
(Edited)
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This reply was created from a merged topic originally titled LIGHTROOM Auto Exposure Option for Import Develop Preset.

I can make a preset for every setting in lightroom, but making a batch setting for exposure is something I can't do if all of the photos are slightly different.

Can we have an option that "auto exposes" imported photos before culling while leaving the rest of the work to our import preset?

If there are under exposed images in a set (shooting during bright days for example) it's hard to sort through without first adjusting exposure. Basically the tool would take a look at the histogram and change the exposure weighted towards the emptier part of the histogram (or do nothing if it's close enough). In the case of an underexposed image it would know to go right, overexposed it would go left.

(you might have the code to do this already since there's already an "auto tone", it would basically refine the functionality to just exposure.)

It doesn't need to make every image spot on (subjective etc.), just enough to cull through photos without having to make exposure adjustments to see the image while sorting.
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Simon Chen, Principal Computer Scientist

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The Auto Tone could be expensive to depending on the workflow. The reason is that Auto Tone is image content aware so it needs to load the raw negative (albeit a lower resolution of the raw file, like the Smart Preview is typically good enough). The Camera Raw cache or DNG fast load data helps, but in other cases it could hit the disk pretty hard if doing it in real time, other than as a background task as Lr does today. The AutoTone in Develop is fast because the raw negative has already been loaded.
(Edited)
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Todd Shaner, Champion

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"Another thought is to edit the Autotone preset yourself, and save it as Autoexposure? The presets are editable I believe."

It was possible using PV2010, but Adobe removed the capability to edit the Auto Tone preset in PV2012.



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Robert Frost

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Thanks Todd. So that is why I can't get it to work. I've edited presets before, but not autotone.

Bob Frost
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Shane Betts

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Simon Chen? No replies?
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Simon Chen, Principal Computer Scientist

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We'll discuss this internally to see if there is a path forward and what is the best way to expose this.
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Shane Betts

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Thanks for your reply Simon. Please do keep us in the loop.