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Correcting a challenging image


Photoshop CS6 One-on-One: Advanced

with Deke McClelland

Video: Correcting a challenging image

In this movie, I'll show you how to use Curves to correct the most challenging of full-color photographs, specifically, we will be starting with this absurdly high contrast image in which the foreground subject could not be darker and the background is so bright, we can barely make out any detail and we will adjust the image so it comes out looking like this. With this wonderful detail inside the barn, this contouring inside the snow and even some variation in the sky and if nothing else, this is proof of the shear power of Curves.
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  1. 30m 4s
    1. Welcome to One-on-One
      2m 19s
    2. Loading the dekeKeys keyboard shortcuts
      6m 5s
    3. Remapping your Macintosh OS shortcuts
      3m 4s
    4. Adjusting a few general preferences
      4m 3s
    5. Using the visual HUD color picker
      2m 2s
    6. The interface and performance settings
      5m 31s
    7. Adjusting the color settings in Photoshop
      7m 0s
  2. 47m 0s
    1. Smart Objects
      1m 36s
    2. Three ways to place a Smart Object
      3m 6s
    3. Copying and pasting from Adobe Illustrator
      4m 11s
    4. Transforming and warping a vector object
      4m 48s
    5. Blending a Smart Object into a photograph
      3m 10s
    6. Blurring with a nested Smart Filter
      4m 57s
    7. Editing a Smart Object in Illustrator
      3m 20s
    8. Creating "true clones"
      3m 50s
    9. Duplicating a group of clones
      2m 53s
    10. Breaking the Smart Object link
      2m 53s
    11. Styling and blending Smart Objects
      2m 44s
    12. Editing originals; updating clones
      3m 41s
    13. Removing people from a scene with Median
      5m 51s
  3. 29m 59s
    1. Luminance meets sharpening
      1m 2s
    2. Correcting for lens distortion
      4m 39s
    3. Introducing Shadows/Highlights
      3m 54s
    4. Mitigating halos with Radius values
      4m 19s
    5. Enhancing the effects of Midtone Contrast
      3m 18s
    6. Creating a "bounce" with Gaussian Blur
      3m 29s
    7. Sharpening on top of blur
      2m 47s
    8. Masking a group of Smart Filters
      2m 53s
    9. Reducing the density of a layer mask
      3m 38s
  4. 49m 10s
    1. Using Curves
      2m 40s
    2. Introducing the Curves adjustment
      7m 36s
    3. Adding and editing points on a curve
      6m 27s
    4. Winning Curves tips and tricks
      8m 12s
    5. Correcting a challenging image
      6m 33s
    6. Selecting and darkening highlights
      4m 39s
    7. Neutralizing colors and smoothing transitions
      6m 6s
    8. The new automatic Curves function
      6m 57s
  5. 1h 31m
    1. Camera Raw
      2m 11s
    2. Opening and editing multiple images
      8m 1s
    3. Correcting white balance
      4m 8s
    4. The revamped Exposure controls
      8m 8s
    5. Working with archival images
      7m 54s
    6. The Spot Removal and Graduated Filter tools
      6m 4s
    7. Painting edits with the Adjustment Brush
      7m 23s
    8. Tone Curves (and why you don't need them)
      5m 57s
    9. Straighten, crop, and geometric distortions
      5m 17s
    10. Applying manual lens corrections
      5m 14s
    11. Vignette, chromatic aberration, and fringe
      6m 49s
    12. Selective hue, saturation, and luminance
      6m 36s
    13. Working with JPEG and TIFF images
      6m 36s
    14. Camera Raw Smart Objects
      6m 48s
    15. Editing Camera Raw images from Bridge
      4m 24s
  6. 32m 30s
    1. Duotones
      1m 23s
    2. Creating a professional-quality sepia tone
      4m 18s
    3. Introducing the Gradient Map adjustment
      5m 42s
    4. Loading a library of custom gradients
      3m 48s
    5. Creating a custom quadtone
      5m 48s
    6. Colorizing with blend modes and Opacity
      4m 6s
    7. Creating a faux-color, high-key effect
      7m 25s
  7. 1h 6m
    1. Noise vs. Details
      1m 28s
    2. Introducing the Reduce Noise filter
      7m 29s
    3. Correcting a noisy photo
      5m 33s
    4. Smoothing over high-contrast noise
      5m 50s
    5. Protecting details with an edge mask
      4m 52s
    6. Adjusting overly saturated shadows
      3m 35s
    7. Correcting with High Pass and Lens Blur
      3m 45s
    8. Brushing away blur and sharpening
      6m 42s
    9. Creating texture by adding noise
      5m 28s
    10. The Camera Raw Detail panel
      7m 8s
    11. Correcting noise and detail in Camera Raw
      8m 10s
    12. Adding noise grain and vignetting effects
      6m 47s
  8. 44m 30s
    1. Blur Gallery
      1m 36s
    2. Creating depth-of-field effects in post
      5m 29s
    3. Modifying your Field Blur settings
      4m 57s
    4. Editing and exporting a Field Blur mask
      6m 15s
    5. Adding a synthetic light bokeh
      3m 52s
    6. Using the Selection Bleed option
      7m 29s
    7. Creating a radial blur with Iris Blur
      6m 59s
    8. Creating "fake miniatures" with Tilt-Shift
      4m 35s
    9. Combining multiple Blur Gallery effects
      3m 18s
  9. 1h 34m
    1. Blend Modes
      1m 16s
    2. Using the Dissolve mode
      9m 47s
    3. Multiply and the darken modes
      8m 30s
    4. Screen and the lighten modes
      8m 10s
    5. Cleaning up and integrating a bad photo
      6m 38s
    6. Blending inside blend modes
      6m 55s
    7. Overlay and the contrast modes
      6m 53s
    8. A few great uses for the contrast modes
      9m 7s
    9. Difference, Exclusion, Subtract, and Divide
      5m 5s
    10. Capturing the differences between images
      4m 18s
    11. Hue, Saturation, Color, and Luminosity
      4m 45s
    12. Blend mode shortcuts
      6m 21s
    13. The Fill Opacity Eight
      8m 57s
    14. Using the luminance-exclusion slider bars
      8m 8s
  10. 44m 20s
    1. Color Range
      1m 14s
    2. Introducing the Color Range command
      7m 24s
    3. Selecting a complex image with Color Range
      5m 49s
    4. Refining a selection in the Quick Mask mode
      7m 4s
    5. Viewing a mask with or without its image
      4m 24s
    6. Painting directly inside an alpha channel
      5m 39s
    7. Correcting fringes around a masked layer
      8m 5s
    8. Turning a layer into a knockout
      4m 41s
  11. 59m 43s
    1. Refine Edges
      1m 28s
    2. Laying down a base layer mask
      6m 49s
    3. Introducing the Refine Edge/Mask command
      7m 57s
    4. Edge detection and Smart Radius
      4m 42s
    5. Using the Refine Radius tool
      7m 31s
    6. The transformative power of Refine Edge
      3m 37s
    7. Perfecting a mask with overlay painting
      10m 58s
    8. Combining Quick Selection with Refine Mask
      10m 37s
    9. Bolstering and integrating hair
      6m 4s
  12. 1h 18m
    1. The Pen tool
      1m 50s
    2. Pixel-based masking versus the Pen tool
      6m 45s
    3. Drawing a straight-sided path outline
      6m 59s
    4. Moving, deleting, and adding anchor points
      6m 10s
    5. Dragging control handles to modify curves
      5m 27s
    6. Converting a path outline to a vector mask
      5m 36s
    7. Customizing a geometric shape
      5m 53s
    8. How to position points and control handles
      7m 7s
    9. Drawing smooth points with the Pen tool
      8m 7s
    10. Duplicating and scaling a vector mask
      5m 21s
    11. Cusp points and the Rubber Band option
      6m 51s
    12. Setting anchor points in the pasteboard
      6m 8s
    13. Using the Convert Point tool
      6m 43s

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Watch the Online Video Course Photoshop CS6 One-on-One: Advanced
11h 8m Advanced Sep 12, 2012

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

The third part of the popular and comprehensive series Photoshop CS6 One-on-One follows industry pro Deke McClelland as he plunges into the inner workings of Adobe Photoshop. He shows how to adjust your color, interface, and performance settings to get the best out of your images and the most out of Photoshop, and explores the power of Smart Objects, Shadows/Highlights, and Curves for making subtle, nondestructive adjustments. The course dives into Camera Raw to experiment with the editing toolset there, and returns to Photoshop to discuss toning, blur, and blend modes. Deke also teaches tried-and-true methods for sharpening details and reducing noise, as well as creating quick and accurate selections with Quick Mask, Color Range, and Refine Edge commands.

Topics include:
  • Adjusting the color settings in Photoshop
  • Placing and blending Smart Objects in a scene
  • Transforming and warping vector objects
  • Correcting for lens distortion
  • Mitigating halos and enhancing contrast with Shadows/Highlights
  • Adding and editing points on a curve
  • Editing multiple images in Camera Raw
  • Creating a pro-quality sepia tone or quadtone
  • Colorizing with blend modes and opacity
  • Reducing and smoothing over noise
  • Creating depth-of-field effects with blur
  • Selecting with Color Range and Quick Mask
  • Perfecting a mask with Refine Edge
  • Drawing paths with the Pen tool
  • Converting path outlines to vector masks
Photoshop Camera Raw
Deke McClelland

Correcting a challenging image

In this movie, I'll show you how to use Curves to correct the most challenging of full-color photographs, specifically, we will be starting with this absurdly high contrast image in which the foreground subject could not be darker and the background is so bright, we can barely make out any detail and we will adjust the image so it comes out looking like this. With this wonderful detail inside the barn, this contouring inside the snow and even some variation in the sky and if nothing else, this is proof of the shear power of Curves.

It really is that one command that can correct the luminance of just about any photograph. So I will go and switch back to my original photo here and I'll go up to the Image menu for a moment and choose Adjustments and by way of a reminder, if you loaded dekeKeys, you will see the Brightness/Contrast is a keyboard shortcut of Ctrl+/(slash) or Cmd+/(slash) and then we have the factory default shortcuts of Ctrl+L or Cmd+L and Ctrl+M or Cmd+M for Levels and Curves respectively. Now of course, those apply static adjustments, but if you loaded dekeKeys, then you can add the Shift key to create the corresponding Adjustment layer.

So Ctrl+Shift+/ or Cmd+Shift+/ gives you Brightness Contrast layer Ctrl+Shift+L or Cmd+Shift+ L gives you the Levels layer and Ctrl+Shift+M or Cmd+Shift+M. gives you a Curves layer. Now just looking at this image you should know that it's a job for Curves, and that is because it is so high contrast. The Levels Adjustment, while great for bringing out the detail in a washed out image where you need to increase the contrast, does not allow you with any degree of control to reduce the contrast of the image. Whereas Brightness/Contrast, if I was to press Ctrl+Shift+/ or Cmd+Shift+/ on the Mac in order to create a Brightness/Contrast layer, and call it let's say reduced contrast, does not go far enough.

So you could reduce the contrast value to its absolute minimum, to bring out some of the detail in the barn and then you would have to increase the brightness as well, to, let's say 30, and that does a decent job of bringing out the detail in that barn, but it wipes out the background, because we had to ratchet up that brightness value. So it's just not going to get us anywhere we want. I will press the Backspace key or the Delete key on the Mac to get rid of that layer, and instead, I'll press Ctrl+ Shift+M or Cmd+Shift+M. Again, this assumes that you loaded dekeKeys in order to create a New Curves layer and I'll call it reduced contrast as well.

All right, now that I have the Properties panel open, I am going to take advantage of the Target Adjustment tool. So go ahead and click on it or if you loaded dekeKeys you can press the K key and I am going to zoom in on this little knot on the side of the barn, and then I will find a point in the upper right corner here. You'll notice over in the Curves panel that the Input value is reading 19 and now I'll click and drag and you drag down with the cursor in order to darken the colors, you drag up, in order to brighten the colors. I want to take that Output value to about 36 as you see here.

So you'd have to move your cursor into the panel to see the result of your work and I really want the Input value to be 20. So I'll press the Right Arrow key to make it so. So we are mapping luminance levels that were formerly 20, to 36, which means that we are brightening not only the shadows, but the image overall. All right, now I am going to scroll over to a portion of the snow below this section of the barn here, and I'm trying to find a very bright color, something around 230 will do, so you can see at this point here, my cursor is in the lower left section of the screen, and my Input value is to 230 at the bottom of the Properties panel and now I'll go ahead and click and drag down in order to darken the details inside the snow, so we can see a little bit of that contouring, and I'll take that Output value down to 260.

So if I bring my cursor back into the panel, you can see Input is 230, Output 216 and finally, I want to brighten my quarter tones just a little bit here. So I am going to scroll over to another location. On the right side of the barn, we have a little bit of snow and I'm looking for an Input that's 195. I am finding one that's 192, so that's probably a good place to start. And notice that Output is showing as 174, because of the shape of my curve so far. I want to brighten those values, so I will go ahead and drag up until the Output value reads 183, is what I'm looking for.

And again, if you don't quite get these values, if you're hovering around inside the image and you can't match my Input values and so forth, you can just dial these in. So I will move my cursor back into the panel. In my case, I need to press the Right Arrow key a few times in order to raise the Input value to 195 and then I will press the Up Arrow key in order to increase my Output value to 183. All right, now I will go ahead and hide the Properties panel and press Ctrl+0 or Cmd+0 on the Mac to zoom out. So let's see what we've managed to achieve here.

This is the original version of the image and this is the image, thanks to Curves, and notice that we've brightened the barn just every bit as much as we were able to with Brightness/Contrast. But we've also reduced the luminance of the snow, thereby increasing its contrast. Now I want to add a little bit of color to the image, and I'm not going to do so subtly. We are just going to amp the colors up like crazy, by pressing the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac, clicking the black/white icon and choosing Vibrance, or if you loaded dekeKeys, you can just press Ctrl+Shift+V or Cmd+Shift+V on the Mac and I'll go ahead and Name this layer superblaster, because we are going to be blasting those colors and I will click OK.

We don't need this panel to be so large this time around, so I will go ahead and shrink it, and then I'll click in the Saturation value and press Shift+Up Arrow four times in a row to increase the Saturation to 40 and then I'll press the Tab key to advance to the Vibrance value and crank it up to its absolute maximum of 100, and we end up with this effect here. All right, now I'll once again hide the Properties panel and just so we can see what we've achieved over the course of this movie, I'll Alt+Click or Opt+Click on the eye in front of the background. This is the original version of the image and if I Alt+Click or Opt+Click again, this is our corrected version.

Thanks to the power of Curves and Vibrance working together, and it really is amazing, just how much luminance detail is inside this image, when it looked so bad in the first place and ends up coming out so great. But not great enough, because I'd still like to sync some of the contrast associated with the snow and so I will show you how to selectively modify the luminance of the highlights in the next movie.

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