Adjustments to Compensate for an Inaccurate Print


Today’s Question: I determined a set of correction values (for HSL and Vibrance) in Lightroom Classic to compensate for the printer not producing accurate color. The question is: when printing a photo for which I’ve already made changes to these parameters, can I just add (or subtract) the correction values that I previously determined? That is, will the correction values add or subtract linearly from the values previously set.

Tim’s Quick Answer: You can manually update the values for the various adjustments, but you can’t automate this process in the Develop module because synchronizing adjustments or using a preset applies absolute adjustments, not relative changes to existing adjustments.

More Detail: You can certainly apply adjustments to a photo in Lightroom Classic to compensate for a print that isn’t quite accurate. In fact, the soft proofing feature in the Develop module was added in part for this very purpose.

Let’s assume, for example, that to get an accurate print you need to increase the Hue value for Red by ten points. That means that for an image that you hadn’t applied any Hue adjustment you would want to set the Red value for Hue to +10. But if you needed to increase the value for the Red slider to +15 when adjusting the overall appearance of another photo, when printing that image you would want the Red value to be set to +25, representing an increase in value of ten points.

You could most certainly manually apply these types of adjustments. For example, when you’re ready to print an image where the Red value is set to +15 you could simply add ten to establish a value of +25. This isn’t necessarily very efficient, but it is the only way to get an accurate result in this case.

The options for synchronizing adjustments or applying presets in the Develop module in Lightroom Classic result in absolute (not relative) values for the adjustments. So in this case, for example, if you used a preset to apply a +10 adjustment to the Red slider for Hue, both the images noted above would end up with a value of +10, when the second of the examples above really needed a value of +25.

The only way to apply relative adjustments in Lightroom Classic is to use the Quick Develop controls on the right panel in the Library module. For example, let’s assume you had one image where you had adjusted the Exposure to a value of +0.5, and another where you had adjusted the value to +1.0. If you then wanted to darken each of the images by one stop, you could use the Exposure adjustment in Quick Develop. Just select the two images in the grid view (not the loupe view) and click the button with two arrows pointing to the left, and both images will be darkened by one stop. That will set the first image to the equivalent of -0.5 exposure and the second image to an even exposure.