Brightening the eyes in Lightroom 4 quickly and easily


Sometimes, after shooting portraits, when I look at the photos, I see that in some of them the persons’ iris is too dark. In that case I want to brighten it (obviously 🙂 ). To do that, in Lightroom 3 I used to choose the adjustment brush, bump up the brightness slider a little bit, and brush the eyes. This presented a problem because it would brighten up everything I “brushed”, so I had to be very accurate with the brush and the process took quite some time considering I would do it to many photos.

Luckily Lightroom 4 improved the overall processing workflow and now I can do it much faster and more efficiently. So If you have Lightroom 4 and want to brighten up a bit eyes of your models here’s a quick and easy way to do it.

1. Go to develop module in Lightroom and select the adjustment brush:

Lightroom adjustment brush tool

2. Increase the Shadows slider quite a bit, but make sure that all other sliders are zeroed out.

Lightroom adjustment brush tool settings

3. Brush over your model’s eyes quickly, not trying to make the exact selection.

4. Adjust the Shadows slider to taste 🙂

What happens is that the Shadows slider brightens (or darkens if you slide it to the left) only the darks, and usually around the area of the eye, the iris is the darkest part. The eyelashes and the pupils are completely black and Shadows slider doesn’t affect them. So if you accidentally select a small portion of the white of the eye, or the skin, they won’t be affected by this adjustment.

Here’s an example of before and after using this technique

Darker Eyes

Before (click to enlarge)

Brighter Eyes

After (click to enlarge)















I hope you will find it useful, and be sure to let me know how you go in the comments section below!

P.S. For best results I recommend shooting RAW

3 thoughts on “Brightening the eyes in Lightroom 4 quickly and easily

  1. This is a great tip,i am sure this would work with birds and other wildlife i do,

    regards John.

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