There is a successful photographer I follow and people love the effect they add to their photos. I've been editing photos for a long time and I know the trick they're using. However, I can't reproduce it using Lightroom, but I can with Photoshop.

The effect is essentially crushing blacks and some whites and then reducing the outputs of blacks into dark greys and whites into light greys.

Original effect

I can do this in Photoshop, however I can't in Lightroom. Here is my Lightroom attempt,

Edit in Lightroom

And then the same photo edited in Photoshop with the levels crushed,

Edit in Photoshop with levels crushed

Easy in Photoshop, sure, but how can I automate this process? I can usually use a preset in Lightroom to affect hundreds of photos, but I can't do this to each photo individually in Photoshop. Tips? What are some external programs others use?


2 Answers 2


This can be done in Lightroom (well it can in the version I use, 5). The curves tool looks like this in the Develop module:

default setting

Once you've crunched your blacks using the 'Blacks' slider, you can click and drag the bottom left anchor point vertically upwards, to can make it look like this:

enter image description here

This will lighten the blacks in the way you illustrated. You can also darken the whites by dragging the opposite anchor point downwards.

You can then create a preset by including the 'Tone Curve' in the settings.

  • \$\begingroup\$ That's fantastic, I didn't know you could do that in Lightroom. Thank you so much. \$\endgroup\$
    – bafromca
    Commented Nov 15, 2013 at 17:44

Use a curve tool. With it you can cut the levels before they reach pure black and/or white. There is a question about curves and levels for which @MattGrum posted an answer. In that answer there is images of a curve tool, and the very first of them is what you are needing. Perhaps not as agressively as in the picture, but you'll see soon enough how much you need to adjust it to get the effect you want.

Most likely it will be enough if you simply raise the starting point of the curve (on the left side) up a bit, and lower the ending point (on the right) down a bit. That's how you cut it before it reaches pure black and pure white.

I made it a direct link to Matt Grum's site, but in case he does not like that, I'll need to remove the link.


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