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Photoshop CS4 for Photographers is an essential course for any digital photographer who wants to master the software's vast array of image enhancement techniques. Professional photographer and instructor Chris Orwig uses his own compelling images to demonstrate how the power of Photoshop can make photographers more passionate about their work. He covers many aspects of the application, such as working with RAW images, using curves and levels, making images snap, and enhancing bland photographs by converting them to black and white. Exercise files accompany this course.
In this movie, we are going to be talking about how we can enhance our color with creative use of Curves. We'll be working on this file truck.jpg, so let's go ahead and double-click that to open it in Photoshop. Press F to go to Full Screen View mode and then Spacebar to reposition the image. Now what I'm going to do here is I'm going to go ahead and click on the Curves Adjustments Layer icon and I'll now add a Curves Adjustment and I'm interested in increasing the color saturation and the color contrast. Now, so far we have looked at how we can do that. Let us take a look at our before and after by clicking on the Eye icon. There is before, there is after. Okay, that is kind of interesting but it did not quite go far enough for me. Well, how can we get more out of this image? How can we add some more interesting color to this photograph? Well let's go ahead and go to our Red channel. We are going to do that by way of shortcut because we want to start picking those up. It is Option+3 on a Mac/Alt+3 on a PC.
I'm going to bring some of the reds up into my highlights and then some of the cyans down into my shadows. So now I have this interesting combination where I added a little bit of Red and I also add a little bit of Cyan. Here is my before and then after. So far, okay interesting. Now press Option+4 on a Mac/Alt+4 on a PC. Greens, we're going to do a little bit of that as well. Little bit. Bring up the greens, bring in some magenta there and then finally Option+5 on a Mac/ Alt+5 on a PC. I want to bring just a touch of blue there. We have a lot of blues so we do not need to do too much of that.
Then bring in some yellow. Okay now we are really starting to customize our color here in some pretty interesting ways. Let's take a look at our before and after. Well here is before and after. All right, the color has really started to sing except I want to take this even further. So I'll click in the Background layer and I want to work on this light. The lights are little bit too bright for me and I want to modify the color. So I'll press W to select the Quick Select tool and I want to add to this so I'm going to go ahead and click and paint across this light here. And the Quick Select tool is a phenomenal tool because it allows you to, as the name implies, select things quickly. Anyways, so I got the Quick Select tool here and I'm making my selection around the light, hold down the Option key on a Mac/Alt key on a PC and undo a few little problem areas. That is pretty good. Next I'm going to create a new Curves Adjustments.
So I'll click on the Curves Adjustments Layer icon, here is what I want to do with this one. I want to darken this light, it is too bright. Actually I want to bring down the white point even. All right, now that is much darker, I like that. Next thing I'm going to do is jump all the way to the Blue, Yellow channel. That is Option+5 on a Mac/Alt+ 5 on a PC and I'm going to go ahead and make this nice and orange looking, look at that. And I'll go back to the Red Cyan channel, that is Option+3 on a Mac /Alt+3 on a PC and I'm going to try to bring in a little bit of cyan into those darker tones and then a little bit of red into some of the brighter tones. All right, pretty interesting.
Now let's go ahead and stack this one on top because that was our second adjustment. Now when I do that, on there is such a little bit less drastic. Now here is my before and after. If I bring it underneath that other adjustment then it is pretty strong and then it is deepening those tones in some pretty interesting ways. Yet in my opinion, it is a little bit too strong here so I lower my Opacity, I'm just looking to add a little bit of visual interest to that. Before, we thought that will look good. Now we are like, okay. Now you are talking, that is looking better, before and after, great. So let's look at our overall before and after. Here is before and then after. All right, we are so far so good.
Let us click in the Background layer, grab your Quick Select tool and what we are going to do is just select this lower portion of the image here and now that we have that lower portion, we are going to make one more curves adjustment. Click on the Adjustment Layer icon to create a new curves adjustment and here we want to go to a couple of different channels. Starting RGB, I just want to darken that up, just a little bit here and I'll go to that Blue Yellow channel and in that Blue Yellow channel, I'm just going to look to add just a touch of yellow here. And I want to add it up high and a little bit down low. Now when I did that it became a touch green so I'm going to go to my Green Magenta channel, I'm going to modify that overall green amount here. Just look into modify this, have a little bit of fun. Now that's looks pretty interesting. Now let's look at our before and after. Here is before and then after.
It is nothing else, just darkening that makes a little bit more sense, so that it makes this image have a little bit more of motion. Little bit too strong so I'm going to change your opacity. Rather clicking on the slider here, I'll press 7 on the keyboard, takes that to an opacity level of 70%. One final adjustment, click in the Background Layer, Quick Select tool, this time we are just going to select the light there and go ahead and grab that, click on the Adjustment Layer icon for Curves. And now what I'm interesting in doing is just darkening that light up, just a touch. Now, there is not a lot of detail there so I'm not going to be able to darken up that too much, but I do want to try to get just a little bit more detail there. And I'm going to that Red Cyan channel, grab my target Adjustment tool, Hover over that, click and drag that up. And try to remove a little bit of that cyan color that we saw on that. And let us take a look at that adjustment. Here is our before and after. Again, just a subtle modification to the image.
Now let's take a look at our overall before and after. We can do that by holding down the Option key on a Mac/ Alt key on a PC and then clicking on the Background Layer, Eye icon, here is our before and here is how we slowly built up the visual interest and we will see it really come together with this top most layer on and in there are different adjustments on those different specific areas. Now my whole intent here was to get you to begin to have vision for how you can enhance the color of your images. And do not settle for thinking it looks good but for experimenting a little bit. Now a lot of times, once you have come to this point of experimentation you are like, is this really good, have I gone too far? Well here is what I would like to do. I'll double-click the tab for Adjustments. I'll click in my Bottom Curves Adjustment and then Shift-click in the top Curves Adjustment and then press Command+G on a Mac/Control+G on a PC to group those. And I'm going to call this 'enhance color and tone'.
Next I'm going to turn this Eye icon on and off and then I'm going to lower the Opacity of this just a touch, just to bring it back. Bring back some of the original and again I can then control and find the sweet spot for all these different adjustments. Because a lot of times, when you start working with color, it's really easy to go too far. Now at this particular image, do I need to bring it back? No, I kind of like it cranked up because I'm just having some fun with color and I'm trying to take this image to this real super vibrant place. All right, well that wraps up our conversation about how we can enhance color with Curves.
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