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Adjustment layers are hands down the best way to fix the color or lighting up a photo in the Full Photo Edit workspace. The main benefits of using adjustment layers rather than direct adjustments are that adjustment layers are nondestructive of the photo and they can be reedited at any time. To show you that, I have a photo here that has just one layer of photo on the Background layer. I'm going to add an adjustment layer. I'll go to the bottom of the Layers panel and there is a black and white circular icon, I'll click that and here I see a list of the available adjustment layers.
The ones that I use the most are Levels, Brightness/Contrast, and Hue/Saturation. By the way, all three of those are also available as direct adjustments, right on the photo layer from the Enhanced menu at the top of the screen, but as I said, there are some significant advantages to applying these adjustments as adjustment layers, as you'll see. So I'd like to brighten this photo, I'll select the Brightness/Contrast adjustment layer. When you're working with adjustment layers, you want to have full access to both your Layers panel and your Adjustments panel.
So I'm going to close this whole panel group up here; the Effects and Content panel Group by clicking the List icon on the right side of that panel Group and choosing Close Tab Group. Then I'll double-click the Layers tab so I can see both the Layers panel, which was originally open, and the Adjustments panel, which automatically opened for me when I created a new adjustment layer. And you can see a brand new adjustment layer here in the Layers panel above the Background layer. Right now that adjustment layer isn't affecting the image because I haven't moved the sliders down here in the Adjustments panel.
If I want to brighten up the image, I'll click and drag the Brightness slider. And if I want to add a little contrast, I can drag the Contrast slider too. The adjustment layer is a special kind of layer that's made up of virtual instructions about how to display the content on the layers below. One of the advantages of this adjustment layer is that whatever changes I make to it don't directly impact the pixels on the layer below. So if I were to make this adjustment layer temporarily invisible, you would see that the photo is still dark.
I'll do that by going down to the Adjustments panel and clicking the Eye icon at the bottom of the Adjustments panel, with that adjustment layer selected. And now you can see the photo as it was without the adjustment layer. I'll click again, here's how it is with the adjustment layer. So I can make the adjustment layer temporarily invisible, which is something I'll do to get a before and after view, or if I really don't like the effect at all, because it is on a separate layer, I can just take this adjustments layer and drag it to the trash at the bottom of the Layers panel to delete it all together.
But I'm going to leave it there for now. Another big benefit of using an adjustment layer is that you can go back and change its settings at any time. So let's say that I'm back on the Background layer making some other kinds of changes there, and then I decide that I actually want the photo to be a little bit darker. I can go back at any time and click on that Brightness/Contrast adjustment layer, that will bring back the controls for that adjustment in the Adjustments panel and I can tweak those controls. I can do this even after I close and reopen this file, as long as before closing I save it in a format that retains layers, like the PSD format, or the TIFF format.
Do be warned that saving in the JPEG format will flatten all the layers, so if I save as a JPEG, this adjustment will be blended into the file, but the adjustment layer won't be available as a separate layer that I can modify. Adjustment layers apply their adjustments to all the layers below them in the Layers panel. Right now I only have one layer here; I'm going to make another layer. I'll do that by a way I mentioned in an earlier movie, which is copying part of the photo on the Background layer. I'll select the Background layer, I'll get a Selection tool from the toolbar; I'll use the Rectangular Marquee tool.
I'll come into the image and I'm going to select part of this price sign. And then I'll go up to the layer menu and choose New > Layer via Copy. That's created a brand new layer, which is called Layer 1, that contains a copy of the part of the sign that I selected. I'm going to name this layer, I'll double-click its default name and I'll type sign, and press Enter or Return on my keyboard. Then I'll get the Move tool from the toolbar and I'll click and drag so you can see the content of that brand new layer, this little piece of the sign.
I did that particularly so that you can see that the adjustment on this Brightness/Contrast adjustment layer is affecting the content of all the layers below, not only the photo on the Background layer, but also this little piece of sign on the sign layer. I'm going to click on the Brightness/ Contrast adjustment layer to bring back my controls for this adjustment, and watch what happens if I drag the Brightness slider over to the left, everything gets darker, the content of the sign layer, as well as the content of the Background layer.
I can limit the effect of an adjustment layer to just the layer that's directly below it in the Layers panel. So again, I'll increase the brightness, and now if I want only this little piece of sign to get bright like this, I'll clip the Brightness/Contrast adjustment layer to the sign layer by selecting the Brightness/Contrast adjustment layer and then going down to the bottom of the Adjustments panel and clicking this icon that has a black circle on top of a white circle. That clips the two layers together. You can see the Brightness/Contrast adjustment layer moved over to the right a bit, and there's a small clipping arrow here.
And in the image you can see that the Brightness Adjustment is affecting only the content of the sign layer, it's not affecting the Background layer at all. If I want that adjustment to affect both layers again, again, I'll click the Clipping icon at the bottom of the Adjustments panel. What if I want the Brightness/Contrast adjustment to affect only the Background layer and not the sign layer? That is not done with clipping, that's done by changing the stacking order of the layers. So I'll click and drag the Brightness/ Contrast adjustment layer below the sign layer, and when the bar beneath the sign layer turns bold, I'll release my mouse to move the Brightness/Contrast adjustment layer beneath the sign layer, so it's not affecting this little piece of the sign and above the Background layer so the adjustment is affecting the photo in the background.
So I think you can see that you have lots of flexibility when you're working with an adjustment layer. There's one more advantage of an adjustment layer, and that is to you can limit the area affected by an adjustment even if all of your photographic content is on one layer, and that's done by making use of this layer mask that comes with every adjustment layer. I'll show you that in the next movie, so stay tuned.
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