Skip Lightroom’s Contrast Slider & Use This Pro’s Method Instead (VIDEO)

What if you were told to “avoid Lightroom’s Contrast slider” because there’s a much better technique that delivers superior results and is easy enough to accomplish for users of all skill levels? You don’t have to trust us on this because the claim comes from one of our favorite professional wildlife and landscape photographers.

Instructor Mark Dumbleton is a South African pro who posts weekly lessons on outdoor photography and he kicks off today’s tutorial with this emphatic promise: “I’ll demonstrate how to implement better-looking, more controlled tonal contrast using superior tools in Lightroom to create photographs with a more professional result.”

It takes Dumbleton less than eight minutes to explain his preferred approach, and one bonus to this method is that it also enables you to increase color contrast. As the video progresses he provides few other tricks to make subjects really stand out from their surroundings. You needn’t go on safari to take advantage of this advice, because what you’ll learn will definitely improve your images wherever you shoot in the field and regardless of the type of subjects you confront.

The episode begins with a brief explanation of why the conventional Contrast slider falls short. Then Dumbleton reveals “the much better and more controlled way” that employs Lightroom’s Tone Curve to accomplish the job with precision. He summarizes the benefits like this: “The Tone curve is incredibly powerful at adjusting contrast in different areas.”

By manipulating a point (or points) on the Curve it’s easy to adjust the brightness values of different tones in an image. You’ll see how doing that enables you to quickly and selectively fine-tune contrast until you get the specific look you desire.

Dumbleton walks you through the step-by-step process, beginning with how his chooses the most appropriate profile for the image at hand. He suggests using Adobe Standard as a starting point, and he then explains why another profile may be preferable for certain types of images.

As you’ll see, Dumbleton typically likes to soften the shadows while raising contrast in the highlights. We’ll let the expert demonstrate the finer points of this very effective approach, rather than summarizing it here. Suffice to say, his results are impressive to say the least.

After watching how it’s done, take a look at Dumbleton’s popular YouTube channel where there are many more pro techniques to be found.

We also recommend watching the tutorial we posted earlier which reveals five timesaving Lightroom keyboard shortcuts for streamlining your image-editing workflow that another pro says are her favorites.