Easy-to-follow video tutorials help you learn software, creative, and business skills.Become a member
Another very powerful tool for adjusting the contrast and consequently the color in our images is the Curves adjustment and that's what I am going to use to work on this image. As with Levels, I am going to apply this as an adjustment layer. Now the reason I'm using Curves here is because I want a bit more control than Levels can give me. Curves is going to allow me to work on specific tonal regions of this image, while leaving other tonal regions unaffected or relatively unaffected. And we are going to see how? When I start moving the curve around to add more brightness in certain tonal regions and less in others, that is going to shift the colors, but then I'm going to show you how we can make sure that the colors are not shifted and it just becomes a change in the contrast, if that is what we want, and I think it is.
What I see here is this very interesting shadow and a repetition of this shape within the window and I would like to make the shadow stronger. So this is what a linear curve looks like. So firstly before we get to the image, let me just give you a quick breakdown on what's going on in the Curves dialog box. A linear curve, up here and the top right we have our brightness values, down at the bottom left we have our shadow areas, right here is our midpoint area. The curve is superimposed upon a sort of scrunched up histogram, which is the same shape as the histogram that you would see, were we working in Levels.
Curves are particularly useful when performing color corrections, because you can work on the individual color curves, and of course, you can do that with Levels as well, but I think you have a little bit more flexibility when doing it with curves. You can also set your black and your white points here, the same way as we did with Levels. You can edit your curve by putting points on the curve, and that's what we are going to do, but you can also draw the shape of the curve. So firstly, if you wanted a psychedelic look to your image, you could click on this pencil icon, and then actually come on to the curve and just draw yourself a random curve like that, and what you get is going to be kind of random, but sometimes it can be a happy accident.
That's not what we want here. So I am going to reset this to how it was when we came in. You also have the option of using these predefined curves and it's worth taking a look at what a strong contrast curve looks like. It's the classic S-shape which for an RGB image, remember when we move up, we are adding light, what's happening here is that light is being added in the highlight areas, light is being removed in the shadow areas. Consequently, we get a strong contrast. Now, while I want something like that that's not quite what I am after, so I am going to reset my curve and I am going to put the points on the curve myself.
One other thing I should mention just before we do that and that is that currently I have a 4?4 grid on my curve. If I wanted a little bit more control, perhaps, I could go to a 10?10 grid and this is just a visual thing. If you hold down your Option or your Alt key and click on the grid, then you switch to a 10?10 as opposed to a 4?4 grid. So, with all of that as our background, I am now going to choose this guy up here, my Targeted Adjustment tool and then move over to this area in my image where I have these shadows, and you can see that as I do so, I get a bouncing ball up here on my curve, and that bouncing ball indicates where these tonal values occur on the curve.
So what I want to do with the shadow is make the shadow a little bit deeper. So I am going to click right there and since I want less light, I am going to drag down. And you can see that drags the whole curve down. Then, I am going to move the other side of the shadow and you can see that the bouncing ball now repositions itself and here I want to add more light. So I am going to click and drag up. Then we should now have more contrast in that shadow. Let's just evaluate what's going on there. I can turn that adjustment layer off and back on again.
Now just for kicks, let's see what would happen if I tried to lighten the tonal area of this window. So I am going to come down to the window and you can see that I have got my bouncing ball now in the bottom of the grid on my curve. I am going to click and drag up from that point, so that I add light to that area. It's almost like we put a light on in that room. Now I have to say this is not really how if I were editing this image, and I have edited this image before, it's not how I would do it. It is a way it can be done.
I find that, I prefer to work with masks and gradient masks as a way of controlling how much light there is in the different tonal regions of my image, but there are people that do like to do it this way and it's a perfectly viable way, although I think you are working a little bit too hard. Okay. Now, let's just see what happened to the color, I am going to click on my Info panel, and I am now going to take some color samples. So I am coming over to my Color Sampler tool and I'll sample one right there, and we'll also look at the color in the chimney and the sky.
We are looking at RGB values and obviously they have changed. And that's no bad thing. It's not even necessarily a bad thing that the color has shifted. But let's say that we don't want the color to shift. I am now going to change my color samples to show me my HSB Values and we see that the Hue has shifted or at least it has for sample point number three. So the color of this sky is changing. If we don't want the color of the sky to change, I am just going to adjust my curve a little bit more, make that adjustment a little bit more drastic and now we have all of those hues for all three sample points are shifting.
If we don't want them to shift, we can change the blending mode that is applied to the adjustment layer. Do you remember in the movie where I was talking about the histogram panel, where I pointed out that we have a luminosity histogram? Well, we don't see a luminosity histogram here, there is no option for it, but we get the equivalent if we choose the luminosity blending mode for the adjustment layer that applies to the curve and we see there that now the Saturation and the Brightness values are changing and that's so good, we need that to happen, but we have restored the color to its original state.
So here is the before and here is the after. More contrast, but no shift in color.
Get unlimited access to all courses for just $25/month.Become a member
119 Video lessons · 51038 Viewers
117 Video lessons · 38808 Viewers
113 Video lessons · 81603 Viewers
65 Video lessons · 11701 Viewers
Access exercise files from a button right under the course name.
Search within course videos and transcripts, and jump right to the results.
Remove icons showing you already watched videos if you want to start over.
Make the video wide, narrow, full-screen, or pop the player out of the page into its own window.
Click on text in the transcript to jump to that spot in the video. As the video plays, the relevant spot in the transcript will be highlighted.
Your file was successfully uploaded.