Lightroom local adjustment bug, and workaround

The bug

This is not a new bug: In fact, it was already present in Lightroom 2. However, since it’s still unfixed in LR 3.5 I decided to put it on the blog anyway. Surprisingly few users know about the bug, so it might help someone.
If you are using the Local Adjustment Brush or Gradient tool in Lightroom 2 or 3 with any kind of exposure correction (even a negative value!), you might be in for a surprise: No matter where you brush, highlights will clip in the entire image.


Here’s an image, straight out of the camera, Adobe defaults applied, except that I’ve set “Camera Neutral” as DNG profile. Note that parts of his temple are not quite blown.

Image using Adobe Defaults

Here’s the image after I applied a local adjustment of -0.32 exposure (Default “Burn” setting in LR3) to the lower left corner: Entire temple area blows out big time.

Local Exposure Adjustment blows out highlights.

The Local Adjustment Brush didn’t even come near the face:
Local Exposure Adjustment used.

The workaround

… is actually quite simple: Do not adjust “exposure”, but use “brightness” instead in the Local Adjustment Brush.

Like this:
Local Adjustment, done right

The final image, with added brightness as a local adjustment applied to the face:
Final image.

Not unknown

Adobe is aware of the issue, but it’s taking them a very long time to fix: It was a known issue already in 2009. Let’s hope LR4 and ACR7 finally get this bug fixed…

Another old bug

The other bug (not a big issue in my opinion in LR3) is that in PV2003 the noise reduction is broken, possibly affecting the dark area’s on some images: If you apply any color noise reduction using PV2003, your black clipping will change. In some (very specific) cases this might leave you with “blotchy” blacks.


PV 2003, no NR

Same image, only difference is the setting of the Color Noise Reduction slider: It went from 0 to 10.

PV 2003, with NR

The solution

Easy: Don’t use PV2003. It sucks anyway compared to PV2010. Obviously, if you are using LR2, this might be another reason to upgrade to LR3.

PV 2010, no NR

PV 2010, with NR

Final image:

Edited shot, PV 2010, with NR

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3 Responses to “Lightroom local adjustment bug, and workaround”

  1. Lightroom Blues | Get Colormanaged Says:
    November 11th, 2011 at 16:15

    […] 3 is markedly better then Lightroom 2 in some aspects, it still has a few issues. An unfixed adjustment brush bug for one, and, at least at default settings, “the Lightroom Blues” for […]

  2. Meghan Says:
    March 12th, 2013 at 13:59

    Do you know if this was fixed in LR4?

  3. René Says:
    March 12th, 2013 at 14:20

    It was fixed in PV2012, so as long as you’re using that in LR4 (and you should: it’s much, much better then PV 2010), you’ll be fine 🙂

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