Today’s Question: I sometimes use the Auto adjustment in Lightroom Classic to set an initial starting point for a photo. Is there a way to apply the Auto adjustment but only for certain adjustments rather than all of the tonal adjustments?
Tim’s Quick Answer: Yes, you can apply an automatic adjustment for an individual adjustment by holding the Shift key while double-clicking on the text label (or the slider handle) for Exposure, Contrast, Highlights, Shadows, Whites, Blacks, Vibrance, or Saturation, in the Basic section of the right panel in the Develop module in Lightroom Classic.
More Detail: The Auto button in the Basic section of the right panel in the Develop module in Lightroom Classic will cause the image to be evaluated and automatic adjustments applied. If you prefer, however, you can apply an automatic adjustment to individual adjustments.
As noted above, you can apply that automatic adjustment to an individual adjustment by holding the Shift key on the keyboard while double-clicking on the label (or slider handle) for one of the supported adjustments.
However, it is worth noting that applying an automatic adjustment to each adjustment control individually will not produce the exact same result as clicking the Auto button, because of the way the image is evaluated. That is because in effect different values are being evaluated by the automatic adjustment.
For example, let’s assume the Auto adjustment causes the Exposure value to increase to +0.50, and for the Whites value to increase to +7. If you reset the adjustments and then hold the Shift key while double-clicking on the label for Whites without adjusting Exposure, the Whites value might decrease to a value of -15 rather than increasing as it would with the Auto adjustment. That’s because the Whites slider is now being adjusted based on an image that was not brightened with the Exposure adjustment, or otherwise affected by various automatic adjustments.
So, you can most certainly pick and choose which supported adjustments you want to apply an automatic adjustment to. You are just likely to get different results for each individual adjustment compared to what you would end up with if you simply clicked the Auto button.
Note, by the way, that you could also use Auto to apply all of the automatic adjustments, and then double-click (without the Shift key) on either the label or slider handle for an adjustment to reset that individual adjustment back to the default value.