Learning Analog Efex Pro

Levels & Curves


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Learning Analog Efex Pro

with Tim Grey

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Video: Levels & Curves

Analog Efex Pro includes a set of basic adjustments that allow you to fine tune the overall brightness, contrast, saturation, as well as the level of detail that will be visible within the image. And then the rest of the controls that you typically will have access to are aimed at applying creative effects. Classic film effects for example, to a given image. But you can also apply a little bit more control over the brightness and contrast, the overall tonality for the image by working with the levels and curves adjustments.
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Watch the Online Video Course Learning Analog Efex Pro
1h 5m Intermediate May 20, 2014

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Analog Efex Pro, part of the Nik Collection from Google, is focused on adding various film and wet plate effects, enabling you to import a sense of age and a unique look to any digital photo. In this course you'll learn all about the many creative effects you can apply in Analog Efex Pro, such as lens distortion, vignettes, bokeh, and imitated dust and scratches.

Subject:
Photography
Software:
Analog Efex Pro
Author:
Tim Grey

Levels & Curves

Analog Efex Pro includes a set of basic adjustments that allow you to fine tune the overall brightness, contrast, saturation, as well as the level of detail that will be visible within the image. And then the rest of the controls that you typically will have access to are aimed at applying creative effects. Classic film effects for example, to a given image. But you can also apply a little bit more control over the brightness and contrast, the overall tonality for the image by working with the levels and curves adjustments.

You won't find the levels and curves adjustments available on the right panel, with any of the presets that are included with analog effects pro. But, you can gain access to those controls, by choosing camera kit, from the pop up, at the top of the left panel, in the cameras section. And then turning on the check box for levels and curves. That will add a levels and curves set of adjustments over on the right panel. We can then choose whether we want to work with the overall tonality, in other words the RGB channel, so that we are affecting all three channels in exactly the same way.

Or if we want to adjust only luminosity so that we are not affecting color at all within the photo. Or if we want to work with red, green, or blue, if, for example, we'd like to shift the color balance. The red channel for example allows us to shift between red and cyan. And so, I can increase the value of red or decrease the value of red in order to shift toward red or toward cyan. I'll go ahead and reset that adjustment though and in most cases I'll work in the RGB mode so I'm affecting overall tonality for the image.

I can then work in much the same way as I would with a levels adjustment in Photoshop, for example, by adjusting the slider for the black point, the white point, and the mid-tone value. So for example I can introduce some clipping of the shadows if I want to enhance contrast or I can brighten up the white point for the image. And then I can adjust the overall brightness for the photo as well with that midtone slider. You can see that while I'm operating as though I were using a levels adjustment, I'm really just using these somewhat simplified controls, to manipulate the overall curve.

I'll go ahead and click the reset button in order to reset this set of controls. And then we can take a look at how I would typically approach a levels and curves adjustment. To begin with, I would adjust the black point perhaps, and then maybe the white point. But then I would tend to work directly on the curve. So, for example, let's assume I want to enhance contrast. That calls for maybe darkening up the dark areas and brightening up the the bright areas. When it comes to the curve, dragging upward will brighten, and dragging downward will darken.

But I can focus that adjustment on a particular total range. For example, I'd drag that handle down the curve a little toward the darker areas, and then drag that handle downward. Now I'm darkening the image but I'm focusing that darkening adjustment on the darkest values within the photo. I can then move up the curve a little bit, I'll go ahead and click on the curve to add another anchor point and then drag upward, and now I'm focusing a brightening adjustment on the brightest pixels within the image.

In the process, I'm enhancing contrast, of course I don't want too much contrast in this case so I'll go ahead and tone down. That brightening of the highlights, and maybe I'll tone down the darkening of the shadows just a little bit as well. One of the additional features that's very nice when it comes to the levels and curves adjustment is the ability to mitigate the effect just a little bit.So, for example let's assume that I enhanced contrast with a bit of an s-curve. But I felt that the effect was too strong. I like what it's doing to the image, I just wish it wasn't quite so strong.

Well, I can simply reduce the value for opacity in order to tone down the effect. If I take opacity all the way down to 0%, of course I'm completely removing the effect of my levels in curves adjustment. But the point is that I can reduce just a little bit in most cases. If instead of continuing to manipulate that curve. I want to just tone down the overall effect. So, as you can see, the Levels and Curves adjustment, in many ways, mimics what would otherwise be available with a Levels or Curves adjustment in Photoshop or other applications.

And it allows us to really fine tune the overall tonality and contrast for our image, so that we're able to get the best effect possible. I usually save this Levels and Curves Adjustment for very late in the workflow, after I've applied all of my various creative effects within Analog Efex Pro, using this Levels and Curves Adjustment to simply fine tune the result.

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