Q&A: When do I set the Blacks and Whites sliders in my Lightroom Classic workflow?

by Andrew S. Gibson

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Kapil: In my Lightroom Classic workflow when should I set the Blacks and Whites sliders? Once all the other sliders have been worked on?

Andrew: There’s no set place in your workflow when you should use the Blacks and Whites sliders, but here’s a general guide for using the Basic panel:

1. Set the Profile (this affects tonality and contrast).

2. Adjust White Balance.

3. Adjust the Exposure slider, if required.

4. Adjust Whites and Blacks sliders, if required. It’s not always necessary, especially if the photo isn’t over- or under-exposed.

5. Adjust Contrast, Highlights and Shadows sliders, if required.

6. Add Clarity and Texture globally, if required.

Lightroom Classic workflow

Alternatively, instead of adjusting Exposure in Step 3 you can hit the Auto button and see where Lightroom Classic thinks your sliders should be set. In my experience Auto tends towards a result that creates a bright image and lightens up the shadows to bring out the details.

Even if the result doesn’t match the way you want to develop the photo, it’s still interesting to see. You can either use LIghtroom Classic’s settings as a starting point and work from there, or hit Undo and start again.

You can learn more about this in my article The 15 Step Lightroom Classic Workflow

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Andrew June 29, 2022 - 10:32 am

Obviously Lightroom isn’t Photoshop, but I’ve always believed it was best practice to establish a healthy and appropriate-to-subject White and Black point before doing anything else. Unwanted color and / or grey ‘casts’ can be banished at a stroke, though finding proper neutrals in values around the mid-tone area is very often the second step.
I do have a Question (if I may?). Some pics I’ve worked on in my Lightroom (not the Classic) have had several revisions. However, I only seem to able to ‘step back’ to the previous state. Is it possible to jump right back to the ‘base camp’ beginning when one if five revisions in? Or is it necessary to just re-import the original? Thanks!

Andrew S. Gibson July 4, 2022 - 8:04 am

Hi Andrew, you don’t need to set the black/white points in Lightroom or Lightroom Classic first, Profile is much more important.

If you click on Versions at the bottom of the Edit panel in Lightroom you’ll see an option to revert back to the original state of the photo. Long term you might want to consider using Lightroom Classic, which keeps a record of every edit you make to a photo so it’s easy to go back.


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