In addition to the changing Lightroom’s baseline processing values, Lightroom’s engineers made a series of significant changes to the controls found in the Basic panel within Lightroom’s Develop module. These give better control over the tones in your images and improve Lightroom’s ability to recover highlight and shadow detail.
As part of this change, Adobe has removed the Fill Light, Recovery and Brightness sliders, replacing them with Highlights, Shadows and Whites controls. In the new system, Exposure behaves far more like a coarse correction for overall image Lightness. I typically use it only when the image is perceptibly over or underexposed. From there, I jump to the Shadows slider to set the darkest point within the image. From there, I turn my attention to the Highlights and Whites sliders.
Highlights and Whites; Shadows and Blacks
Although the two controls initially feel a bit redundant, splitting control over the lighter pixels in your photos offers some distinct advantages. The Whites control is ideal for setting the brightest highlight in the image (the whites whites) and the Highlights controls pixels within a range of approximately 70-90% brightness. I say approximate because Lightroom now adapts the range of the controls to the content of the image.” Having intelligence built into the controls is a wonderful thing and I find the new system to become intuitive with a little practice.
Returning to the Highlights and Whites sliders, I often find myself adjusting them in opposing directions, typically with the Whites on the positive end (brighter) and the Highlights toward the negative (darker). This improves contrast and detail in the highlights of your photos without making your image darker-the traditional downside of performing this type of correction using a Tone Curve.
Shadows and Blacks have the same relationship, with Blacks targeting the darkest pixels in your images and Shadows roughly corresponding to the 10-25% brightness range. Collectively, the five sliders in the Basic panel (Exposure, Highlights, Shadows, Blacks, Whites) give you more points of control along the tonal range, making it a breeze to bring your images to life.