1. Photo & Video
  2. Post-Processing

Super Fast Clipping Previews

If tips where graded for their simplicity and power to change your way of working then this one would be near the top. Clipping previews are simple visual way to view what tones (if any) are clipping in your images and adjust them quickly on screen.

In this tutorial, I'll show you how to use clipping previews to bring your highlight and shadow tones back into the usable range with Adobe Lightroom's handy preview feature.

High Highs and Low Lows

Here's our image: an old army truck. This is a tricky image because the truck is sitting in the snow. On the roof of the building behind the truck the snow is "blown-out," pure white: it is over-exposed. Below the truck, and especially above the wheels, they dark areas are crushed: they have no detail.

An old army truckAn old army truckAn old army truck

Rapid Recovery to The Rescue

How do we bring detail to both areas of the image, the highlights or the shadows, without damaging one or the other? We can change the exposure too much or one or the other will start to degrade. We need to adjust the highlight and shadow values separately.

Simply hold Alt (Option on Mac) while adjusting the Tone sliders in Lightroom to start a live preview of clipped areas. The preview let's you to see exactly what areas are clipping.

If you have experience in video production this might seem familiar. Areas that are clipped are posterized with bright colours. These coloured areas change as you move the sliders to show you when you've reached the a usable threshold.

A similar technique works in Photoshop, too, with Levels sliders and Curves.

Image with clipping preview in LightroomImage with clipping preview in LightroomImage with clipping preview in Lightroom

The Adjustment Process

And that's it! Super easy, super quick, and very handy correction process.

Like this video? Check out the Tuts+ Photo & Video Youtube Channel.

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