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Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Advanced, the second part of the popular and comprehensive series, updated for CS5, follows internationally renowned Photoshop guru Deke McClelland as he dives into the workings of Photoshop. He explores such digital-age wonders as the Levels and Curves commands, edge-detection filters, advanced compositing techniques, vector-based text, the Liquify filter, and Camera Raw. Deke also teaches tried-and-true methods for sharpening details, smoothing over wrinkles and imperfections, and enhancing colors without harming the original image. Exercise files accompany the course.
Recommended prerequisite: Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Fundamentals.
All right, I'm still working inside of Lighthouse 1.dng. I've modified the Exposure and Black settings. We're skipping Recovery and Fill Light for now and we're dropping down here to Brightness and Contrast. Now on the face of it these are some pretty simple options. They worked virtually identically to the Brightness and Contrast options that are associated with the Brightness/ Contrast command inside of Photoshop. In fact, when Adobe's engineers said about improving the behavior of Brightness and Contrast inside Photoshop, they used these Brightness and Contrast options as a model.
However what you have to bear in mind is that with the Brightness and Contrast command we're taking an eight bit per channel image, it's already RGB, all the data is there, and we're tweaking the data. Whereas here inside of Camera Raw we're actually developing this raw information. So our results are going to be a little different. Now my values up here are 10 and 50 respectively because I've clicked the Auto button a couple of exercises back. By default, the values are 50 and 25. Now the thing about the Brightness value is it's another one of these compensation options, very much like Temperature.
Temperature is compensating for the warmth of the light source. Brightness is compensating for the difference between the way a digital camera perceives luminance levels and the way our brains process luminance in real life. So this Brightness of 50 is necessary in order to rein in those mid tones so that they look right to us. That said, you'll probably modify the brightness value to accommodate any changes you've made to Exposure or Blacks. And in my case 50 under the current circumstances is just way too bright. So I'm going to reduce that value by pressing Shift+Down Arrow a few times in a row and notice incidentally that that Alt or Option+dragging technique that works with Exposure and Blacks does not work for Brightness.
It only works for Exposure, Blacks and Recovery as we'll see in a future exercise. Where Brightness is concerned, you just keep an eye on what's going onscreen or you may also want to look at your Histogram as you work away here. I'm going to take the Brightness value down to -10 in order to spread out that Histogram a little and also mute those midtones inside the image. So we don't have such a startling washed down effect. And next I'm going to drop down to the Contrast option. Now when you're first working away inside a Camera Raw it's very tempting to goose that contrast value.
So that you have a ton of contrast inside your image. I'll only recommend that though on a regular basis because if you're printing the image you're going to goose the contrast anyway. Your shadows are going to fill in. You may lose a few of your highlights as well. So you may want to take this Contrast value down. In fact, I think 25 is a little overly indulgent. That's the default setting. I'm going to take it down to +20 where this image is concerned. Now you can get a sense of what kind of progress we've made over the course of the last few exercises.
If I turn the Preview check box off, this is the image as it first appeared when I opened it inside of Camera Raw so it was pretty dark as you can see. A little bit dingy looking as well. And then if I turn a Preview check box back on, we have a brighter you might even say a more cheerful image. I'm also going to tweak my Temperature and Tint values. I'm going to take this temperature value down actually. So I'm going to cool down the image-- not quite that far. Actually I'll take it down the 5200 degrees and my tint value is pretty much fine just the way it is.
I'm not feeling like the image is overly pink or overly gray. So I'll just leave it alone. Now I'm going to switch over to Lighthouse 2.dng, which is also open here inside of Camera Raw, and this is the result of my automatic modification. So I just clicked on the Auto button, and this is what Camera Raw came up with which is pretty amazing, frankly, but we still do have some blown highlights. You can see up here in the Histogram that the top right triangle is white, thereby showing me that I have some clipping going on and if I turn on that that option by clicking on it that's where my clipping is occurring, and this happens to be clipping across all three channels.
I just know that from having worked with this image. Anyway I'm going to turn off that warning for a moment, and we're going to go ahead and dial settings in manually. I'm going to click on the Default button so that we re-establish the default settings and now we can see that we have a ton of clipping in that sky and I want to notice something. This just goes to the heart of how the Exposure option works and how it's ultimately different than the white point triangle inside the Levels dialog box. Again, it's analogous to it, and it helps if you're familiar with Levels. It helps to think of it that way in the first place.
But it turns out to be much more powerful. I'm going to Alt or Option+drag on this slider triangle and look at all that white in that sky. Just an enormous amount of sky is absolutely blown. So we have no detail inside that region. Now if we're working inside the Levels dialog box because levels, the input levels anyway, allow you to enhance the contrast not reduce the contrast, then we would be locked. There'd be nothing we could do. We couldn't bring back that information because it wasn't there in the first-place. Compare that to working with a bona fide raw image, that is either DNG or your Camera's RAW file format as opposed to do JPG or TIFF.
You have this wealth of luminance information that may or may not be apparent when you first open the Camera Raw dialog box. So just because the Highlights are plastered to the right-hand side of the Histogram that doesn't mean that's where the actual luminance information drops off. There might be more beyond the edge of the Histogram, and we can peel it back by reducing the Exposure value. Notice we're just revealing checkout that Histogram. We're just revealing more information up there in that sky, and that is a terribly powerful control.
If there is no other reason for you to shoot Raw images with your digital camera as opposed to JPEGs, this is the reason. Because if you had shot at JPEG or if I had shot at JPEG of this image, all that information would be gone; it would be baked completely away. Whereas because I shot a raw image all that information is still there for me to reveal here inside of Camera Raw. All right, so I'm going to go ahead and take my Exposure value down. I'm Alt+dragging or Option+dragging this control. Note I'm going to take that value down to -1.85 this time around and look at all of that sky detail.
Now it's coming at the expense of course of the lighthouse in the foreground, which is just turning into a silhouette. So I'm going to tab my way down to let's say to the Brightness value, and I'll raise that Brightness value to 100. It can go as high as 150 incidentally or as low as -150. But 100 works out well for this image. Then I'm going to Tab my way down to Contrast, and I'm going to reduce the Contrast because that's going to allow me to keep some more of my highlight detail as well because I'm moving the highlights into the mid tone range.
So I'm going to take that contrast all the way down to -50. So as low as it goes here inside Camera Raw, and now that's a very weak blacks going on. So I'm going to Alt+Drag or Option+Drag this black slider triangle up to where I began to see some clipping occurring, which is happening around 25, 26. I'm going to back it off actually to 20. So then I get this effect here and just so we can tell what kind of progress we've made. I'll turn the Preview check box off.
This is before with the tragically blown sky here, and this is after with this immense amount of shadow detail, thanks to the power of the Exposure setting combined with Blacks, Brightness and Contrast here inside Camera Raw.
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