“Chasing” in Lightroom

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In construction an accumulation of small errors can aggregate to create a large catastrophic error. I once heard someone use the word “chasing” to describe this phenomenon. The way to avoid this was to measure total distance and subdivide rather than adding together smaller measurements.

When you work in Lightroom or other post-processing applications, there are many different areas you can adjust color, for example: light balance, vibrance, saturation, the HSL/Color panel, and split tonality. For the braver, there are color curves, and even the basic calibration color adjustments.

If you’ve worked with these a bit, you’ve probably experienced this chasing – think of chasing your tail.  Here’s a way to visualize this: turn off one, or a few of your color or tone adjustments. If the results are garish, this probably means you’ve used some of your color adjustment to compensate for an overuse of one or more other other adjustments.

It’s sometimes hard to see this as it is happening, and indeed, your vision and direction can change as you are processing with your progressive adjustments leading you in a different direction.

But most of the time when you see this happening, it’s a good idea to take a Lightroom snapshot, and begin reversing course.

Ideally, each control should create a small improvement in your overall color tonality. Turning any one control off, or zeroing it –  should result in a small marginal difference.
(In rare cases, two opposing adjustments might combine to achieve better results than if one were used – but I this is an exception rather than the rule.)