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Photoshop CS5 for Photographers provides comprehensive Photoshop training targeting the needs of photographers. In this course, author Chris Orwig demonstrates the fundamental skills used to enhance digital photos, including managing and correcting color, sharpening, making selections and adjustments, retouching, and printing from Photoshop. In addition to teaching the techniques that enable photographers to refine and publish their photos, the course includes live-action segments that encourage thinking photographically and shooting with Photoshop’s capabilities in mind. Exercise files are included with the course.
One of the ways to further deconstruct how Curves works is to make an adjustment to something like this, a color wheel. Let's go ahead and do that. I am going to press Command+M on a Mac or Ctrl+ M on a PC in order to open up the Curves dialog. Now, for starters, I want to point out that we are viewing this in the Composite mode RGB. So, any change that we make here is going to make a change to the three channels together. What I can do is I can go ahead and click and drag up. Now, as I click and drag up, you can see I am brightening this Color Wheel here.
If I click and drag down, you can see that I am darkening that. Now, what's happening is it's taking this value, which was right here, it's then that lowering it in regards to its Output. It's now at this level, which then, in turn, is darkening this image. Well, let's say that I want to remove this point. How I get rid of one? We'll, simply click and drag it off, and now it's set back to normal. The other thing that's really helpful in regards to Curves is to begin to think about this align.
Now, one of things that we can do is if we flatten this line out, as I'm doing so here, we are going to see that we have less Color Saturation, also less Contrast. We know that Color Saturation and Contrast and Sharpness, for that matter, are all really interrelated. So, again, the flatter the line, the less contrast. Well, what about the steeper the line? Well, let's make this line really steep. Here, you can see now what we have is more Color Saturation, more Contrast. Click on the Preview button, and you can view the before and then there, the after.
Okay, well interesting. Well, at this juncture now, let's say that what we want to do is reset this Curve Adjustment altogether. What we can do, in that case, is hold down the Option key on a Mac, Alt key on a PC. That changes Cancel to Reset. We'll go ahead and click on that option. Well, now that we know a little bit about how this dialog works, let's take a look at a common adjustment. One of the things that's quite common to do is to increase contrast and color with what's called an S-Curve.
Here, what we can do is go to our Curves and click and drag up in order to brighten the upper area of our image, the brighter tones here. Then we'll go ahead and click and drag down with some of the darker tones. So, in a sense, what we've done is we've done what's similar to Levels, where we bring in our white point, and we bring in our black point. What's that doing for us is making our blacks blacker, our whites whiter. That's in a sense kind of stretching out that histogram, so we have that nice contrast range there.
We can see the before and after by clicking on the Preview button. Here we have before and then after. Well, let's go ahead now and dig into some of the different channels. So once again, I want to reset this. Hold down the Option key on a Mac, Alt key on a PC. That changes Canceled to Reset, and let's go into our Red Channel. Now that we are in the Red Channel, if I click and drag up, what's going to happen is we are adding red to the image. You can see how that's occurring down here, affecting this portion. If I click and drag down, that's cyan, right? You can see how we are adding more and more cyan.
Well, the interesting thing about this is it's really focusing in on a specific area of the image. Now, there is going to be a color shift we'll start to see across the entire image. But just trying to illustrate this idea that these adjustments can affect specific areas in certain contexts. We'll go to that Green Channel. Click and drag up. That becomes more green. Click and drag down; that becomes more magenta. Click and drag that off, and then finally blue and yellow. I'll click and drag up here and then click and drag down. You can see how I was either adding blue by dragging up or adding more yellow by dragging down; really interesting how this affects the Color Wheel.
You know, at the same time, this is still a little bit abstract. So, let's go ahead and apply some these same adjustments to another layer. I am going to go ahead and hit Cancel here. At this juncture, I am going to click into my background, then, press Command+M in order to open up Curves. That's a shortcut on a Mac. The shortcut is Ctrl+M on a PC. This time, let's pay attention to this background image. Now, when I click and drag up, you can see that it's becoming much more red. Here, when I click and drag down, it's becoming much more cyan.
I'll go ahead and move that over the Color Wheel here, just so we can really focus in on that background. In this case, you can see I can swing the image either to becoming more Red or to becoming more Cyan. I'll click and drag that point off. Let's go to Green/Magenta. Here, we have more green, and there we have more magenta. Then go back to the Blue/Yellow Channel again. We can add blue, or we can add yellow. The last thing I want to point out here is that if we go back to the Composite view, we can, of course, add Contrast.
Here, you can see the background now has much more Contrast. a little bit more dramatic than it was before, What we can do is we can make adjustments here in the Composite View, or we can go into specific channels, and we could add a little bit of red. Then we could go into the Green/ Magenta Channel, add a little bit of magenta. Then go to the Blue/Yellow Channel and here we could add a little bit of blue. So, you can see that we can come up with these different color combinations by making adjustments in different areas. Now, at this point, this to simply Demo.
This is simply Play. But what we need to start to do now is say okay, well, now that I understand how this dialog actually works, let's go ahead and begin to apply some of this knowledge to some different scenarios, and let's begin to work on some images and actually take a look at how we can use Curves in order to correct and enhance our photographs.
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