Lightroom Auto Correct – A Dirty Little Secret

Some time ago I read this article which made mention of how AI was powering the Lightroom Auto Correct feature, and how this had made it far more accurate and powerful than ever before. I was somewhat sceptical at first and didn’t really even bother testing it. I mean, how was this really going to be better than a person?

I’m not sure what made me click on the Auto button a few weeks ago. I was editing some photos of my kids and really wanted to quickly send them off to the family. There was nothing special about them – just playing in the pool and getting up to no good. Perhaps I was also bogged down with other work – I can’t really recall, but none of that is really important. What is important is that I did click on the Auto button and suddenly the image was most of the way to being edited.

Some Observations

There are a few hiccups that I have noticed though with trying out this new and improved Auto feature. Firstly, if you are someone like me who has changed the default camera profile from Adobe Standard to one of the Camera Profiles (Camera Provia/Standard in my case) then you will be surprised to note that this new feature definitely seems to work best using one of the generic Adobe profiles. I say surprised because the ‘camera profile’ are also created by Adobe and not the camera manufacturers. Surely, these should also work just as well as the other Adobe profiles! Those who create their own custom profiles using the ColorChecker Passport will be pleased to note that this issue doesn’t seem to apply to custom profiles (YAY 🙂 ). Your colour settings can affect the Tone settings quite a bit so you will also want to make sure that you colour correct first. Or, if you need to go and revisit your colour correction you will either have to reapply the Auto Tone correction, or you will need to make your own minor adjustments. This makes sense to me as when printing in darkrooms you quickly realise that adjustments to your colour filters do affect your exposure time.

Here are a few quick samples that I have included. Each set has an image straight from the camera and one where the auto adjustment has been made and a standard contrast curve applied.

The above example is quite subtle, but the difference is there. The auto adjusted image has better tones on the face which isn’t as blown out on the one side. The detail is still there as Lightroom had no trouble pulling it back. There is also a noticeable difference in the shirt and the hat.

Again the difference isn’t too big, but it is there. The shadows have been lifted and the highlights “brightened”. Considering that this is straight out of the camera with two buttons pressed it is actually pretty good.

The difference in the above images can be seen in the face, shirt, and background which are all looking better. I chose this image as it is underexposed slightly and I wanted to see what Lightroom did to the image. Interestingly it actually decreased the exposure slightly so despite the image being brighter there isn’t an increase in noise. I would still edit it further and lighten the face, but I wanted to show the result with just the two button presses. I’m sure many would agree that it makes for a pretty good starting point, as do the other two examples above. Imagine importing a wedding into Lightroom where the auto-correction is made on import and your standard tone curve applied. Getting several hundred images to look like this in about 10 seconds is definitely a win!

Would I Use It?

Whether or not I would use it is hard to say for now. It is possibly still a little new and I am a little old, but I would like to play around with it some more. For many people, it could make for an excellent place to start. A sort of base from which you could apply your style. This style could be applied through the Tone Curve, HSL/Colour, and the Split Toning Adjustment tabs quite easily and effectively. My main concern is that for others it is going to mask a magnitude of sins. How will you know that you aren’t shooting correctly if Lightroom is ‘masking’ your mistakes from you? Part of the learning process is in realising that you have made a mistake and figuring out how to fix it in camera the next time around.

If you have nailed down your craft and have your exposures pretty much waxed then this could help you by speeding up your workflow. It could save you vital minutes on small shoots and potentially hours on larger shoots like weddings. It definitely won’t be for everyone but I would say that it is worth trying out. AI/Machine Learning is here to stay and this could really change the game for a lot of photographers.

Have you used this setting in Lightroom since they improved it, or are you tempted to give it a try? I would love to hear what others have to say

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