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I've gone ahead and cancelled out of the Curves dialog box. I'm still working in the image, Snowy old barn.tif, found inside the 14_levels_curves folder. In this exercise, I'm going to introduce you to the Curves Adjustment layer, and we'll see how things work slightly differently in the Adjustments panel. Now, we'll start off by creating a Curves Adjustment layer, and assuming that you loaded dekeKeys or you've followed my advice earlier in this chapter, you can do it from the keyboard. You just add the Shift key to the standard curve shortcut, which means you press Ctrl+Shift+M or Command+Shift+M on the Mac.
That displays the Adjustments panel. That automatically clicks on the third icon in on the first row, which is Curves, brings up the New layer dialog box, so you can name the new layer if you want. I'm just going to call it Curves for now. I'll click OK, and now we see the giant Curves graph. This group of options is what's responsible for the enormity of the Adjustments panel. Most of the options that show up inside this panel don't begin to fill it, but Curves does. So, it's sized specifically to house the Curves command. All right, so notice that we have the familiar Auto button, which applies auto tone if you Alt+Click or Option+Click on that button, then you can switch to one of the other flavors of auto.
We also have the various eyedroppers right here, if you want to use those. We've got the Pencil tool, and notice, by the way, if I draw an arbitrary map, and in this case, I'm Shift+Clicking with the tool to create something fairly over the top, then you can smooth it by clicking on this button here, so we don't see a smooth button, we see a smooth icon. But it works the same way. You click repeatedly in order to incrementally smooth that graph. All right, I'm going to go ahead and reset my curve, because I don't want to work from that one. I'll switch back to the Point tool.
Notice that when the Point tool is active, you have access to the black and white points, and so you can go ahead and drag those, in order to darken up the shadows or lighten the highlights. If you Alt+Drag or Option+Drag the triangles, then you're going to preview the clipping out there in the image window. Another option that's available to you is to go to the Adjustments panel flyout menu, and choose Show Clipping for Black/White Points. Now unlike the similar option inside the Curves dialog box, it's not on all of the time. So, when you turn that command on, it doesn't immediately turn on the preview here inside the image window, it waits until you're actually dragging a black slider triangle or the white slider triangle in order to invoke that preview.
So, I think that makes a lot more sense, quite frankly. Anyway, I'm going to go ahead and reset these guys back where they were, and also, turn off this command, because it's not really doing me any good where this image is concerned. Now, another thing to know, you should see black in the left and white on the right, that is the default setting for RGB images, but if you ever find that, mysteriously, white is over on the left-hand side, and black is over on the right, you can switch them by again going to the flyout menu, and choosing Curves Display Options. That's going to bring up those same options that were available to you at the bottom of the Curves dialog box, you'd switch back to Light, click OK.
You also have the option of changing the number of grid lines inside the graph by Alt+Clicking or Option+Clicking. Alt+Click or Option+Click again in order to reduce the number of grid lines. Just is in the Curves dialog box, you click to set a point, and then drag it to a different location. You can also use the arrow keys if you want to. So if I press Shift+Arrow, I'm going to move that point down in large increments, thereby reducing the Output value. Now, I think this is little weird that we see Output first and Input second, because I always think in the other direction, I think we're starting with an Input level and mapping it to an Output level, but that is the way that it works.
So, the question becomes, how do you get that little bouncing ball inside of the graph, and how do you add points to the graph from the image window, when you have no eyedropper to work with, the way you do when you move your cursor around inside the image, when you're working inside the dialog box. Well, there is a couple of solutions. One is to grab the legitimate Eyedropper, which you can get from the toolbox, or you can press the I key. Then rather than dragging inside the image, you press the Ctrl key or the Command key, and drag, and I want you to watch here inside the graph, when I Ctrl+Drag or Command+Drag, not only am I seeing that ginormous sampling ring out there in the image window, but I'm also seeing the bouncing ball inside of the curve graph.
As soon as I move into the barn, you can see that it bounces down to the lower left region of the graph. Now, because the Ctrl or Command key is down, as soon as I release, I'm going to end up with a point there in the graph. So, that's a little bit of a difference when working with the Eyedropper tool. If I were to Ctrl+Shift+Click or Command+Shift+Click, then I would add independent points to each one of the color channels. Another way to work instead of grabbing the Eyedropper is to switch to the Target Adjustment tool, so the Curves command, whether you're working inside the dialog box or the Adjustments panel, you've got a Target Adjustment tool, that you can take advantage of here.
Then you just move your cursor around, you don't have to drag it all, and notice as you move your cursor, you'll see a bouncing ball over there inside the Curves graph. When I move my cursor into the barn, then you see the ball jump down to the lower left region of the graph. If you want to add a point, then you do the same thing you do with the dialog box. You Ctrl+Click or you Command+Click inside the image window, then you have a point inside the Composite graph, if you want to add one to each one of the Channel graphs, then you Ctrl+Shift+Click or Command+Shift+Click inside the image window.
Then finally, you've got this option down here to update your histogram, you just go ahead and click on it, and then you see the new histogram here inside the panel. I realize I'm throwing a lot of stuff at you here. In the next exercise, we're going to take those techniques, and we're going to actually apply them to the task of correcting this image.
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