digital photography tips with Digital Photo Mentor Darlene Hildebrandt

Get Inspired · Find Creativity · Seek Adventure

Using the Basic Sliders in Lightroom and Photoshop – a Comprehensive Tutorial

In this in-depth video tutorial on how to use the basic sliders in Lightroom (or Photoshop ACR) I give away a bunch of little known tricks and some of my best tips. Often in my classroom and workshops I show some quick image processing tips and I've heard the phrase “mind blown”, so hopefully you'll pick up something you didn't know and learn a couple things. Do let me know if you have the mind blown experience though!

Some of the things covered in this video tutorial include:

  • How to set your panel to Solo mode
  • How to undo your last adjustment
  • How to reset one slider only and not everything you've done
  • Using the White Balance eyedropper tool to adjust the color and tint of your image
  • How to adjust different tones in your image by dragging on the histogram
  • The Alt+slider trick to see which areas of your image are clipped and how to use it to adjust for optimal contrast and tone
  • A little trick to automatically set your White and Black points
  • Which sliders you want to adjust first, which to do last, and why
  • How to find and use scrubby sliders
  • Why taking your sliders to extreme is a good way to learn
  • How far is too far and how to avoid that
  • Artistic license and when to “fix” images and when not to? When are blown out highlights okay?

Note: this is a long video but it's full of tons of information and I know you're going to want to watch it all the way to the end and make notes (or follow along and try it on your own images).

Related articles mentioned in the video:

Before and after

Some before and after images to show the adjustments made using only the basic sliders either in Lightroom or Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) in Photoshop.

Acr basic sliders 750px 02
Before – this image is a little overexposed.
Acr basic sliders 750px 03
After – has been adjusted using only the White, Black and Highlights sliders and not even touching the Exposure slider.
Acr basic sliders 750px 04
Before – color is a little off and the image lacks contrast and punch.
Acr basic sliders 750px 05
After – watch the video to see how to do this using only basic sliders.
Acr basic sliders 750px 09
Before – a bit underexposed, flat, and the color is dull.
Acr basic sliders 750px 08
After – learn how to adjust the contrast to get more pop in your images like this.

What NOT to do

How do you know you've gone too far? Here are some examples of taking it too far in the post-processing step.

Acr basic sliders 750px 06
What I would to on this image – GOOD example.
Acr basic sliders 750px 07
What NOT to do – this is what I consider taking it too far. There is too much color saturation and the highlight slider has been pulled too far, making her white top gray, almost blue looking. Not a pleasing look for people or in general.
Acr basic sliders 750px 10
GOOD example of how to process an image of people.
Acr basic sliders 750px 11
This is taking it too far. The skin tones are odd, it's not flattering to the people and the shadows have been lifted too far. This is NOT a good look for most people or images in general. You will also get a lot of added noise by processing images to this degree.

Time to practice

Now it's your turn to practice. Open up Lightroom or ACR if you use Photoshop or Elements, and pick some images that needs some help. Find some that are too dark, off color, or just lack punch. Follow the techniques and tips outlined here and see if you can perk them up a bit. If you can “fix” bad images then you will be good to go and be able to do magic on the good ones.

Share your comments and questions below if you have any. In particular tell me if you picked up a tip or trick you didn't already know – if so which one (s)?


Digital Photo Mentor is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

lightroom alternative photo editing software

{ 29 comments… add one }

Leave a Comment

Next Post:

Previous Post:

Featured Photography Special

4 Weeks to Better Photography

An online photography class for beginners, with new lower pricing for 2018 and Downloadable Videos.

Join the Photo Community

10 Photography Challenges

Participate in monthly photography challenges. Join our very interactive community, participate in challenges each month that help you stretch and grow. Learn new skills and make your photos "pop".

More Articles Here

All my past photography articles here.

We publish regularly, so if you'd like to posts sent directly to your inbox, just put your name and email into the big orange box at the top of this page.

Adobe Training

Learn how to use Lightroom
Learn how to use Photoshop