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Adjusting lighting

From: Photoshop Elements 11 Essentials: 02 Editing and Retouching Photos

Video: Adjusting lighting

The controls in the second section of the Basic Panel are for adjusting the tonal values in a photo. I think these sliders are pretty intuitive, because for one thing, they are all located in one place, and you can approach them in the order in which they are presented here in the Basic Panel, and then you can just go back and tweak any one of them. Another thing that makes these sliders relatively easy to use is that each of the major sliders affects a different portion of the tonal values as you see them here in the histogram. I'll tell you about each of those as we go through the sliders. But first, I want to show you that there is an Auto button here.

Adjusting lighting

The controls in the second section of the Basic Panel are for adjusting the tonal values in a photo. I think these sliders are pretty intuitive, because for one thing, they are all located in one place, and you can approach them in the order in which they are presented here in the Basic Panel, and then you can just go back and tweak any one of them. Another thing that makes these sliders relatively easy to use is that each of the major sliders affects a different portion of the tonal values as you see them here in the histogram. I'll tell you about each of those as we go through the sliders. But first, I want to show you that there is an Auto button here.

Now, I kind of think that clicking Auto defeats one of the big advantages of using Camera Raw, which is that you get to process the photos the way that you want them to look. But, if you're in a hurry, or if you're looking for a starting place, you can try clicking Auto, and you can see that that adjusted all of these sliders as Elements guessed they should be. I actually don't like this result in this case, it's really blocking up the shadows, and it's making the photo look overly processed. So I'm going to click Default to send all the sliders back to their default values. I'll start with the Exposure Slider, which brightens or darkens the mid tones in a photo, and that affects the overall impression of brightness.

So it's a good place to start adjusting tones. If I drag the Exposure Slider to the left, you can see that it darkens the mid tones, if I drag to the right, it brightens them. In this case, I might take it just about there to start with. I can always come back to the Exposure Slider and tweak it later after I use the other sliders. The Contrast Slider makes the dark areas in the photo darker and the bright areas lighter, and that increases the contrast or the range of tonal values. If I drag the Contrast Slider to the left, that decreases contrast, if I go to the right, it increases contrast.

That brings us to the important Highlights Slider. This slider targets the highlight areas that aren't all the way to the far right of the histogram, but are just about here in the three-quarter tone highlight area. These are the highlights in which I want to be sure to retain detail. The highlights in the clouds for example. If these highlights are too bright, so that I'm lacking in detail, I'll take the Highlights Slider and I'll drag it to the left, and as I do, notice that there's more and more detail coming back into the clouds. So again, this is where I started with this slider, and here is how the image looks dragging this slider over to the left.

The Shadows Slider targets the dark areas in the photo that aren't all the way to the very end of the tonal values. Some of the dark areas in the mountain, I'm guessing. So I'd like to open those up by dragging the Shadows Slider over to the right. The Whites and Blacks Sliders let me set the white point and the black point, in other words, how light the very brightest tones in the image will be and how dark the very darkest tones. I'll make sure the clipping warnings are on for these sliders by clicking on them up here on either side of the histogram. I'll take the Whites Slider, and I'll drag it to the right.

And at some point, I'll start to see the red clipping warnings, meaning that I'm now pushing the pixels under those warnings to solid white with no detail. I like to have detail in all my highlights, so I'll just click and drag back to the left until those clipping warnings just disappear, and then, I'll take the Blacks slider, and I'll drag that to the left until I start to see the blue clipping warnings that mean I'm pushing these pixels to pure black. Sometimes, I do like the darkest parts of my image to be pure black because it makes it more dramatic. But, in this case, I think that's a bit too much.

I'm going to turn off those clipping warnings now by clicking them, and there's one more tonal value slider, the Clarity Slider. Increasing clarity is something that I almost always do to give photos that little bit of added punch. What this slider does, if I drag it to the right, is increase contrast in the mid tones, and that will make the image look just that much crisper overall. Take a look. If I drag Clarity all the way over to the right, that's quite a difference. So I'll put it back to 0 again, that's how the image looked a second ago, and here is how it is if I add Clarity.

By the way, if you drag the Clarity Slider the other way, to the left, you get this really soft dreamy look to an image. I don't usually use this in a landscape, but sometimes it comes in handy if you're shooting a portrait, and you want the model's skin to look soft and defused. But again, I'm going to put clarity over to the right for this image. Now, I'll turn the Preview on and off to see where I started from, it's not a bad photo, and where I ended up, with a lot more drama and contrast. Now there are two more sliders here, the Vibrance and the Saturation liders. You can use these to control the intensity of color as you process a photo in Camera Raw.

We'll take a look at these two sliders in the next movie.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 6m 14s
    1. Welcome
      1m 10s
    2. Using the exercise files
      1m 30s
    3. Overview of the editing workspaces
      3m 34s
  2. 43m 14s
    1. Touring the interface
      4m 21s
    2. Making the most of the tools in Elements
      4m 6s
    3. Arranging the panels
      4m 32s
    4. Zooming and panning
      4m 3s
    5. Viewing multiple photos
      3m 51s
    6. Undoing
      5m 15s
    7. Cropping
      3m 46s
    8. Resizing
      7m 18s
    9. Saving images and examining formats
      6m 2s
  3. 19m 23s
    1. Understanding layers
      7m 59s
    2. Managing layers in the Layers panel
      4m 33s
    3. Creating new layers
      6m 51s
  4. 38m 28s
    1. Why use selections?
      4m 20s
    2. Selecting with the marquee tools
      3m 56s
    3. Selecting with the lasso tools
      6m 40s
    4. Selecting by color and tone
      6m 22s
    5. Refining a selection
      4m 51s
    6. Selecting hair
      5m 42s
    7. Hiding content with a layer mask
      6m 37s
  5. 46m 54s
    1. Why use adjustment layers?
      5m 15s
    2. Adjusting color with a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer
      4m 32s
    3. Correcting lighting with a Levels adjustment layer
      3m 32s
    4. Adjusting part of an image with an adjustment layer
      5m 19s
    5. Exploring auto adjustments
      3m 55s
    6. Improving shadows and highlights
      2m 14s
    7. Removing a color cast
      1m 47s
    8. Fine-tuning with Color Curves
      3m 16s
    9. Converting to black and white
      2m 26s
    10. Correcting camera distortion
      5m 32s
    11. Reducing noise
      2m 56s
    12. Sharpening
      6m 10s
  6. 20m 51s
    1. Creating a panorama
      5m 6s
    2. Merging bracketed exposures
      6m 0s
    3. Removing people from a scene
      5m 25s
    4. Combining group shots
      4m 20s
  7. 29m 24s
    1. Removing blemishes
      3m 42s
    2. Reducing wrinkles and circles
      4m 16s
    3. Enhancing eyes
      5m 19s
    4. Removing red-eye
      3m 15s
    5. Adjusting skin tone
      2m 21s
    6. Removing dust spots
      4m 7s
    7. Removing content
      6m 24s
  8. 52m 36s
    1. What is Camera Raw?
      5m 18s
    2. Using the latest Camera Raw controls
      3m 16s
    3. Camera Raw basics
      6m 22s
    4. Making use of the histogram
      3m 45s
    5. Setting white balance
      3m 44s
    6. Adjusting lighting
      4m 28s
    7. Adjusting color saturation
      2m 9s
    8. Cropping and straightening
      3m 58s
    9. Reducing noise
      3m 33s
    10. Sharpening
      3m 38s
    11. Synchronizing edits to multiple photos
      3m 36s
    12. Outputting from Camera Raw
      6m 14s
    13. Using Camera Raw with JPEGs
      2m 35s
  9. 48s
    1. Next steps
      48s

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