What is Clipping in Photography?
Clipping happens when you have areas with no information in your photo. When an area has no information, it is either pure white (clipped highlights) or pure black (clipped shadows). Photographers often refer to these as “blown out” areas.
It is generally undesirable to have large areas of your image that have highlight clipping or shadow clipping. Luckily, this can be corrected in Lightroom quite easily!
Clipping Warnings in Lightroom
Lightroom uses added colors to warn you of areas that have highlight or shadow clipping. When this is turned on, you will see areas of clipped highlights filled in wtih bright red and any areas with clipped shadows filled in with bright blue.
You can turn these warning colors on or off in several different ways. To turn both the hightlight and shadow clipping warnings on/off in Lightroom, simply tap the “J” key. (go here for my other favorite Lightroom shortcuts)
You can also turn these clipping warnings on and off individually by clicking the little arrows on the top left and right of the histogram in Lightroom. The right arrow will toggle on/off the highlight clipping warning and the left arrow will toggle on/off the shadow clipping warning.
How to Fix Clipping in Lightroom
Just like in any editing program, there are several different options for fixing clipping on images in Lightroom. The most obvious options are to use the Highlights and Shadows sliders located in the Basic Panel.
- Moving the Highlights slider to the left will decrease the Highlights.
- Moving the Shadows slider to the right will bring back information in the Shadow areas of your photo.
You can also further adjust the highlights and shadows by using the curve in the Tone Curve Panel.
However, the easiest way to recover the highlight and shadow clipping in your images is to use the Lightroom presets and brushes included in a couple of our sets.
- The awesome new Clean Edit Portrait Workflow Collection has presets for recovering both highlight and shadow areas of your image (Highlight Recovery and Tone Highlights Soft).
- The Perfect Portrait Retouch Brush Collection has a brush for recovering clipping as well called “Recover Clipping”.
A little bit of shadow or highlight clipping isn’t a big deal – especially if it doesn’t show up in key areas of your photo. If there are small areas where the highlight or shadow clipping just cannot be recovered and it isn’t distracting to your photo, don’t stress over it too much!
If you are more of a visual learner, check out our video tutorial below that talks about clipping and shows you the different techniques to fix it!