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Making adjustments with the Curves tool

From: Aperture 3 Essential Training (2012)

Video: Making adjustments with the Curves tool

For the longest time, when people talked about Aperture, especially compared to Photoshop, they go "Yeah, it's nice, but it doesn't have Curves." There are some people that really feel that Curves is the best way to make exposure adjustments. And after you look at the Curves adjustment brick here in Aperture, which is new to Aperture 3, you may agree with them. So, let's take a look. Now the first thing I'm going to tell you is that you need to have the current processing of your RAW files in order to use this new Curves adjustment.

Making adjustments with the Curves tool

For the longest time, when people talked about Aperture, especially compared to Photoshop, they go "Yeah, it's nice, but it doesn't have Curves." There are some people that really feel that Curves is the best way to make exposure adjustments. And after you look at the Curves adjustment brick here in Aperture, which is new to Aperture 3, you may agree with them. So, let's take a look. Now the first thing I'm going to tell you is that you need to have the current processing of your RAW files in order to use this new Curves adjustment.

Here is the image that we worked on with Levels. I have a companion shot that we're going to work on in Curves. Actually, if you look at the Metadata when you do the Exercise Files, those of you that get the Exercise Files, I will put in the caption what each was adjusted with so you'll know. So, let's get to Curves, because there is a little bit here for us to look at. So, we pull up our image. I'm going to go ahead and hit the V key one more time, so we've got a nice big image to work with.

I am going to go to Adjustments, and we're going to find Curves. There is our Curves brick. This looks very familiar, I'm sure, to those of you that use Curves in Photoshop. There are a lot of similarities here. If you have been using Curves, you can go ahead and pretty much use this Curves adjustment brick the same way that you have been. It functions virtually the same way. However, as you might imagine, Apple has added a few goodies for us.

I'm going to show you the goodies because, for me anyway, they really enhanced my Curves experience. First thing you'll notice up here at the top is that we have a couple of Auto buttons. Now these are virtually the same kind of Auto buttons that we had in Levels. This first one here is Auto Curves combined button. What that means is that it will make a Curves adjustment based on the luminance, the overall luminance of the photograph. So, it's just looking at the tonal values and nothing else.

Next to it, we have the Auto Curves Separate button. To me, this is the more interesting one because what Aperture will do here is it will actually make a separate Curves adjustment for each of the three channels: red, green and blue. So, not only do you get an Exposure adjustment where you're working with the Highlights and the Shadows and the Midtones, you also get some color correction when you use Auto Separate. So, Auto Separate is definitely a big deal here.

We're going to use it here in just a few seconds. Here, you have your channels. You have RGB, and then you can work on the separate channels if you want, very handy. Most of the time, most of the work that we're going to be doing here we'll be working in the RGB channel. Then you have Eyedroppers for black point, gray point and highlights. That allows you to set each of those areas separately. I'll show you those quickly. Then if you just want to set a point anywhere on the curve, you use this tool down here.

One other little goodie I want to show you. In Range, most of time we're going to be working in the Normal range, the range that most of us are accustomed to in Curves. They do, however, have Extended Range. Basically, what the story is on Extended is that some cameras are actually capable of capturing information, especially on the highlight and beyond the Normal Range. If your camera is able to do that, if you can capture outside the Normal range of highlight information, then Aperture can read that, and you can actually work in that range.

The way that it looks - I'll just show it to you real quick, and then we'll move on - is that here is our Normal Range, and then out here, this is the great Extended Range out here. If you have a camera that can do that, I'm sure you'll have fun playing around with that. For the rest of us, we're going to stick with Normal for the moment because believe me, there is plenty here for us Normal folk. So, let's start with the Auto Combined, and let's make our first adjustment. So, all I have to do is make sure that my channel is set to RGB and click the Auto Combined button.

We get an overall Curves adjustment that, right out of the shoot, is pretty good. That's what we had before, and there is our Auto Combined. Now, as we look at the different channels, you'll see that, just like when we looked in Levels, that nothing is really going on in the separate channels. That's because that isn't Auto Combined's thing. What Auto Combined's thing is just to work with the luminance alone, and it does a pretty good job of that. But let's try Auto Separate, because I think Auto Curves Separate is really where it's at.

So, I'm going to go ahead and reset by going to the Reset button here. Now, again, we just make sure that we're in RGB. Now we're going to do Auto Curves Separate. Click on that. You'll notice that not only do we get a Curves adjustment, but we get some color correction. There is our initial shot, and look what Auto Curves Separate does. It really, I mean right out of the shoot, we have a very nice adjustment here. We can see what it did by looking at the separate channels.

There is the adjustment that I made in the red channel, and green, and blue. You can see that what it did in the blue channel was different than what it did in the green channel. So, this is a very intelligent adjustment. I think we did a great job with this. Now, if you want to fine-tune this a little bit further, that's not a problem at all. For instance, I like this adjustment. The only thing I'd like to change a little bit is maybe open up some of these shadow areas a little bit. So, all I need to do is set a point there.

So, I'm just going to click on this to set a point. What you do is you get the loop, and then you just click on the area that you want to work on, something right about like there. And Aperture will set that point for you on the Curves. I'm just going to click on that point to activate it. Now you can drag that point around, but I think an easier way to work is to use the Up and Down arrows. It's more precise for me. So, I'm just going to use the Up Arrow just to open up that area a little bit.

If I wanted to go the opposite direction, I'd use the Down Arrow just to kind of make that darker, which is not the direction I want to go. I want to go with the Up Arrow a little bit. That's all I wanted to do, just open that up slightly. You can move this along this line by clicking and dragging. It behaves just like Curves, if you've used Curves in the past. So, let's look at where we started and here is where we are. Very nice. So, now, I just want to show you one other thing here where you actually get to set the Black Point, and the Middle Tone, and the Highlights separately and let Aperture do a Curves adjustment for you that way.

It's not quite as strong for me. Maybe I just haven't really perfected my technique here. I prefer the Auto Separate, but I want to show you this one last way to use Curves. So, I'm going to Reset. So, we'll start with the Shadows. So, I'll just find a nice dark here to do our shadow right in here. This looks dark. Then I'll go to Highlights, and find a really bright spot. Try to find the brightest highlight that you can find.

Then we'll do Midtones, find something right down here, which is very midtone-y. Now that's not bad. It's not as good, in my opinion, as when I did Auto Separate. But remember, you have the ability to add another Point. So, I'm going to click right here, and really what I want to fix is this here. I want to bring those tones down a little bit. So, we'll just add a point. And now I'm going to click on that point, and I'm going to use my Down Arrow. We'll just bring that in Range, and suddenly that method is looking pretty good, right? Because here is what we started with, and here is after we made some correction.

So, you have three really nice ways to work in Curves in addition to the standard Photoshop way. My favorite, I'm going to go ahead and hit the Reset button, is using Auto Separate, because I think Auto Separate really, just with one click, gets us the closest, and then you can fine-tune from there. But play around with this. Have fun with it. This is really a great tool, a nice addition to Aperture 3. And I hope you find the perfect method for you.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Aperture 3 Essential Training (2012)
Aperture 3 Essential Training (2012)

128 video lessons · 15341 viewers

Derrick Story
Author

 
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  1. 2m 16s
    1. Welcome
      1m 5s
    2. Using the exercise files
      1m 11s
  2. 41m 2s
    1. Understanding the system requirements
      1m 46s
    2. Understanding key Aperture terms
      6m 5s
    3. Touring the interface
      4m 43s
    4. Setting essential preferences
      7m 41s
    5. Customizing the top toolbar
      2m 5s
    6. Setting up two monitors
      2m 44s
    7. Configuring for faces and places
      5m 37s
    8. Understanding RAW files
      5m 5s
    9. Following the recommended Aperture workflow
      3m 23s
    10. Running Aperture Library First Aid
      1m 53s
  3. 45m 49s
    1. Preparing for import
      7m 38s
    2. Using managed libraries or the referenced file approach
      8m 7s
    3. Creating metadata presets
      5m 23s
    4. Adding keywords on import
      1m 44s
    5. Importing images from a digital camera
      4m 48s
    6. Using the RAW+JPEG option
      3m 36s
    7. Importing movies from your digital camera
      3m 10s
    8. Importing images from a hard drive
      4m 29s
    9. Importing images from an iPhone
      3m 48s
    10. Importing live images from an iPad or an iPhone
      3m 6s
  4. 39m 22s
    1. Working in Projects view
      6m 33s
    2. Working in Photos view
      3m 22s
    3. Viewing in full-screen mode
      5m 25s
    4. Zooming to actual size
      1m 23s
    5. Using the Loupe for a closer look
      3m 24s
    6. Showing focus points
      1m 28s
    7. Using Quick Preview
      1m 22s
    8. Proofing profiles and on-screen proofing
      2m 58s
    9. Customizing metadata overlays
      5m 26s
    10. Managing previews
      5m 34s
    11. Learning the heads-up displays
      2m 27s
  5. 24m 21s
    1. Creating projects and albums
      3m 22s
    2. Rating images by stars and color
      9m 52s
    3. Flagging images
      2m 0s
    4. Organizing a series with stacks
      5m 47s
    5. Grouping images with Smart Albums
      3m 20s
  6. 17m 22s
    1. Understanding the Aperture 3 library
      2m 45s
    2. Switching between Aperture 3 libraries
      2m 21s
    3. Exporting single or multiple projects as libraries
      3m 0s
    4. Merging multiple libraries into one
      3m 53s
    5. Splitting libraries
      3m 5s
    6. Sharing libraries
      2m 18s
  7. 58m 21s
    1. Defining the difference between master and version files
      4m 47s
    2. Working with the Adjustments pane
      6m 28s
    3. Updating RAW processing from previous versions of Aperture
      5m 55s
    4. Reading a histogram
      2m 8s
    5. Adjusting white balance
      2m 31s
    6. Adjusting exposures
      4m 37s
    7. Enhancing photos
      3m 24s
    8. Adjusting highlights and shadows
      2m 34s
    9. Customizing auto adjustments for levels and curves
      1m 50s
    10. Adjusting tonality with the Levels tool
      5m 45s
    11. Adjusting colors
      5m 5s
    12. Converting color pictures to black and white
      4m 14s
    13. Sharpening edges
      5m 54s
    14. Using the Vignette effect
      3m 9s
  8. 41m 13s
    1. Cropping images
      4m 39s
    2. Retouching blemishes
      7m 39s
    3. Fixing spots
      3m 2s
    4. Using Straighten Crop and Flip
      2m 19s
    5. Fixing a chromatic aberration
      2m 9s
    6. Reducing visual noise
      3m 5s
    7. Making adjustments with the Curves tool
      8m 53s
    8. Rotating images
      1m 22s
    9. Removing the Vignette effect
      2m 0s
    10. Using the Color Monochrome and Sepia tools
      4m 27s
    11. Considering the Sharpen tool
      1m 38s
  9. 44m 37s
    1. Introducing brushes
      2m 53s
    2. Using quick brushes
      7m 7s
    3. Using adjustment brushes
      4m 26s
    4. Retouching portraits with adjustment brushes
      5m 10s
    5. Creating multiple bricks for a single adjustment
      3m 25s
    6. Applying presets
      5m 46s
    7. Modifying presets
      2m 39s
    8. Highlighting hot and cold areas
      1m 51s
    9. Roundtripping to Photoshop
      3m 49s
    10. Using the edit plug-ins
      2m 52s
    11. Customizing the Adjustments pane
      1m 30s
    12. Batch processing with Lift and Stamp
      3m 9s
  10. 20m 41s
    1. Setting up face recognition
      4m 37s
    2. Searching for faces
      3m 43s
    3. Working with images that have existing tags in places
      3m 18s
    4. Adding geo tags using places in Aperture
      4m 28s
    5. Searching by place
      4m 35s
  11. 15m 42s
    1. Applying keywords
      4m 52s
    2. Creating unique captions quickly
      3m 17s
    3. Batch changing
      7m 33s
  12. 7m 0s
    1. Using the Search box
      4m 24s
    2. Creating Smart Albums for searching
      2m 36s
  13. 12m 48s
    1. Exporting masters and versions
      9m 10s
    2. Using the export plug-ins
      3m 38s
  14. 6m 44s
    1. Developing a backup strategy
      2m 23s
    2. Backing up with vaults
      2m 18s
    3. Restoring from a vault
      2m 3s
  15. 29m 52s
    1. Viewing your images via a quick slideshow
      3m 54s
    2. Setting up complex slideshows
      8m 19s
    3. Customizing individual slides
      8m 6s
    4. Adding video to your slideshows
      4m 13s
    5. Pulling a still frame from a movie
      1m 37s
    6. Exporting slideshows
      3m 43s
  16. 21m 39s
    1. Preparing your book project
      7m 9s
    2. Adjusting your book
      4m 54s
    3. Creating a custom template
      7m 2s
    4. Outputting your book
      2m 34s
  17. 22m 21s
    1. Emailing a photo from Aperture
      3m 27s
    2. Seeing your Aperture library from other applications
      1m 59s
    3. Building a web page
      4m 57s
    4. Publishing a web gallery
      3m 22s
    5. Publishing images to Flickr
      5m 58s
    6. Publishing images to Facebook
      2m 38s
  18. 10m 58s
    1. Printing a single image
      6m 32s
    2. Printing multiple images
      3m 4s
    3. Ordering prints from within Aperture
      1m 22s
  19. 36m 8s
    1. Taking advantage of Retina display Macs
      1m 56s
    2. Understanding the unified library for iPhoto and Aperture
      3m 2s
    3. Getting the most out of the advanced white balance adjustment
      4m 5s
    4. Understanding the changes in the revised Shadows and Highlights tool
      5m 23s
    5. Using Professional Auto Enhance as a starting point for image editing
      3m 24s
    6. Creating your own Auto Enhance presets
      2m 6s
    7. Using iPhoto effects in Aperture
      1m 34s
    8. Increasing performance with Fast Browsing combined with Quick Preview
      3m 40s
    9. Controlling Photo Stream in Aperture
      3m 52s
    10. Deleting images from your Photo Stream
      2m 2s
    11. Deleting images from the iPhone, reordering projects, and setting the desktop photo
      2m 33s
    12. Transferring photos into Aperture from the iPad and the iPhone
      2m 31s
  20. 1m 35s
    1. Looking ahead
      1m 35s

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