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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.
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