Lightroom Tip – Customizing the Background Color

Happy Friday everyone! I’m in Denver, CO right now with Scott Kelby and we’re getting ready for a couple days of shooting snowboarders and skiers with adventure and editorial photographer, Tom Bol. Anyway, I wanted to leave you with a quick Lightroom tip for the weekend though. This one is about the color of the background in Lightroom. By default, it’s a medium gray. But some people prefer to view their photos on black, white or some other shade of gray in between. Depending on your viewing conditions and where the photo will ultimately be displayed (and simply your personal preferences) it may help to use a different color than the default. To change it, just right click in an area around your photo and you’ll see the pop up menu that lists all of the options. Choose your color and you’re ready to go. Of course, you can always do this in the Preferences dialog too, but I find the right-click method much faster. Just remember that the medium-gray setting is the default in case you ever want to get back to it. Here’s a larger view of what the pop-up menu looks like (click for a larger view):

As always, thanks for stopping by this week. Have a great weekend.


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  1. Matt….awesome composite of the sprinter! Really hating that I couldn’t have been there to assist (especially after seeing that other shot you sent me). Definitely gimme a shout when you line up your next shoot.

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  2. Welcome to the Rockies Matt and Scott! Great to see you guys in this part of the country. I met up with Ben and we chatted after his Photoshop for Photographers stop in Denver a few months ago. Send me an email if you guys are up for a beer or a meal before you two have to head back to FL. I would love to chat!


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  3. I don’t remember where I saw the tip, (it may have been on Kelby Training) but when you’re adjusting the exposure, blacks and brightness of a photo, it really helps to view the image on all three background colors, gray, white and black.

    I do most of my work on gray, but then swithch to a white background to evaluate bright areas and overall brightness. I normally find that I want to boost the brightness and exposure a little. Then switch to a black background to evaluate blacks and dark areas, and now the image may look too bright, so I may pull brightness and blacks down a little. Keep tinkering with the image until it looks equally good on gray, white and black backgrounds.

    For me, I find it’s a great way to normalize my view of the image and minimize the effect of a backlight image on a monitor.

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    • Hi Craig,

      Hey great suggestion and tip! That’s why I read this blog to get ideas from others. I’m going to start using your suggestion here if you don’t mind.



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    • Craig, that sounds like an awesome tip. Can’t wait to try it out. Thanks.

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    • Couldn’t you just make a print template with the 3 different backgrounds to see all 3 at the same time? Would save you having to switch.

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  4. Hey Matt and Scott! Welcome to Denver! You pick a Great day with snow in the mountains! Good luck and stay safe up there! Oh, and Great tip Matt!


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