Tip 1 - Don't Increase Brightness Too Much
Although it may be seductive to set a high Brightness value in LightMachine, you can easily overdo it. If the dark areas of an image are brightened up too much, they will lose contrast and look unnatural.
Tip 2 - Think Simple
A good Brightness and Contrast value should be chosen before you start tweaking the mask options in "Shadows/Highlights Pro" or "Virtual Studio Pro" modes. It can help to switch to the simple "Brightness/Contrast" or "Brightness/Contrast Pro" mode and concentrate on the brightness and contrast controls alone. In these modes the whole image will be affected, so you can see what would happen to the image parts, and which are already correctly exposed, without a mask.
Tip 3 - Push the Contrast
Image areas that are brightened up easily lose contrast in the details. You can compensate for this loss by using the Local Contrast slider. Sometimes you can even achieve better results by lowering the Contrast slider to make more details visible, although they may appear more flat. You can then increase the Local Contrast slider to regain the lost contrast .
Tip 4 - Start With Auto Mask
The Auto Mask options can be a good starting place when correcting an image. The Auto Mask combo boxes demand only a few simple choices from you, so you can adjust the mask for the current image very quickly. For tough cases you will have to additionally switch to the Fine-Tune mode and slightly adjust the sliders there.
Tip 5 - Try Virtual Studio as an Alternative
For a some images the Shadows/Highlight modes only produce half-satisfying results. In such cases you can often achieve superior results by using Virtual Studio mode to place spot lights over the objects that need to be brightened.
Tip 6 - Avoiding Noise
If lifting shadow areas with LightMachine results in visible noise, you can use a third-party noise reduction tool to remove it. An alternative is to reduce the brightness in the shadows to make the noise less visible. Also, please remember that low-cost cameras are more likely to produce noise in the shadows. Setting your camera to its highest quality setting (for less JPG compression) can avoid unnecessary noise in the shadows.
Tip 7 - Sleep On it and Try Again the Next Day
Sometimes when you are very enthusiastic or in a hurry to correct a photo, you might do a correction that isn't that brilliant. If you have the time, it sometimes helps to leave a photo alone and to try correcting it again the next day. You might find that you missed something the day before or produced a too extreme correction.