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Photoshop CS5 for Photographers
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Enhancing color and tone with levels


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Photoshop CS5 for Photographers

with Chris Orwig

Video: Enhancing color and tone with levels

Let's begin to take a look at how we can use Levels in order to improve our photographs. And here, we're going to be working with two different images: santa_barbara_mission.psd and chalk_drawing.psd. Let's go ahead and open up chalk_drawing.psd. I'll press F to go to Full Screen View mode here. What I want to do with this image is I want to improve the overall contrast and also the color saturation. Along the way, I want to talk a little bit about how Levels actually works. One of the things that's actually quite important when working with Levels is to understand this idea of a Histogram.
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  1. 4m 16s
    1. Welcome
      2m 14s
    2. Using the exercise files
      45s
    3. Photography and Photoshop
      1m 17s
  2. 27m 21s
    1. Becoming a successful student of Photoshop
      1m 1s
    2. Strategies for success
      2m 9s
    3. Taking visual snapshots
      3m 32s
    4. The importance of the 30-minute blink
      2m 38s
    5. Isolation
      5m 41s
    6. Creative memorization
      2m 59s
    7. Say it out loud
      4m 9s
    8. Be prepared for surprises
      1m 17s
    9. Why Photoshop CS5?
      3m 55s
  3. 20m 8s
    1. What is Adobe Bridge?
      2m 51s
    2. Introducing the Bridge workspace
      2m 57s
    3. Using Bridge to review and evaluate photographs
      4m 12s
    4. Working with Bridge and Photoshop
      1m 56s
    5. Introducing Mini Bridge
      3m 49s
    6. Working with Mini Bridge
      4m 23s
  4. 25m 52s
    1. Choosing your color settings
      2m 35s
    2. HUD color picker preferences
      2m 44s
    3. Image interpolation preferences
      3m 52s
    4. Zoom preferences
      1m 47s
    5. Interface preferences
      3m 3s
    6. File-handling preferences
      2m 59s
    7. Performance preferences
      2m 28s
    8. Cursor preferences
      2m 59s
    9. Guides and type preview preferences
      3m 25s
  5. 23m 46s
    1. Introducing color management
      2m 53s
    2. Two simple steps for more accurate color
      5m 34s
    3. Opening and saving files with embedded profiles
      4m 28s
    4. Why color settings and monitor calibration matter
      5m 18s
    5. Creative tip: Setting up your studio
      1m 59s
    6. Monitor calibration
      1m 46s
    7. Color management resources
      1m 48s
  6. 35m 9s
    1. Introducing the Tools panel
      1m 27s
    2. Working with the Tools panel
      4m 36s
    3. Viewing and arranging documents
      4m 29s
    4. Combining multiple images
      4m 15s
    5. Closing multiple images
      2m 17s
    6. Working with panels
      3m 50s
    7. Customizing your workspace
      4m 14s
    8. Creating custom keyboard shortcuts
      4m 49s
    9. Working with the Application bar and Full Screen view
      4m 3s
    10. Working with a Wacom tablet
      1m 9s
  7. 22m 54s
    1. Bit depth 101
      5m 29s
    2. Introducing image size
      3m 26s
    3. Resizing images
      6m 50s
    4. Resizing by cropping
      2m 33s
    5. Straightening an image
      2m 22s
    6. Creative tip: Sizing images correctly
      2m 14s
  8. 33m 49s
    1. Introducing the Camera Raw preferences
      3m 33s
    2. Opening images in Camera Raw
      3m 48s
    3. Using the basic Camera Raw controls
      3m 20s
    4. Color correction and white balance
      3m 7s
    5. Processing multiple images
      2m 21s
    6. Crop and compose
      4m 31s
    7. Converting to black and white
      2m 26s
    8. Camera raw workflow
      7m 36s
    9. Saving images from Adobe Camera Raw
      3m 7s
  9. 38m 9s
    1. Introducing transparency
      1m 29s
    2. Introducing layers
      2m 58s
    3. Working with layers
      3m 49s
    4. Aligning layers
      2m 8s
    5. Creating new layers
      4m 18s
    6. Organizing layers
      3m 34s
    7. Layer style effects
      6m 18s
    8. Creating a clipping mask
      3m 0s
    9. Targeting and moving layers
      4m 10s
    10. Layers shortcuts
      6m 25s
  10. 44m 59s
    1. Using the Magic Wand
      4m 43s
    2. Using the Quick Select tool to remove a background
      2m 16s
    3. Using the Quick Select tool for creative color effects
      2m 23s
    4. Using the Marquee Selection tool
      2m 55s
    5. Using the Magnetic Lasso tool
      3m 6s
    6. Using the Polygonal Lasso tool
      3m 28s
    7. Making color range selections
      3m 35s
    8. Using Refine Edge to improve selections
      3m 17s
    9. Using Refine Edge with a color range
      4m 21s
    10. Introducing paths
      3m 43s
    11. Creating a path selection
      4m 24s
    12. Using a path selection to improve color
      6m 48s
  11. 42m 31s
    1. Introducing masking
      1m 13s
    2. Deconstructing how masking works
      6m 56s
    3. Masking defined
      1m 51s
    4. Refining masked edges
      5m 58s
    5. Building a mask based on color
      6m 11s
    6. Changing a color using a mask
      3m 54s
    7. Masking and selective sharpening
      5m 53s
    8. Using the Mask panel controls
      4m 7s
    9. Quick Mask mode
      6m 28s
  12. 15m 8s
    1. Creating a custom border using masking
      6m 10s
    2. Using pre-built borders
      4m 21s
    3. Exploring sample image frames
      4m 37s
  13. 21m 40s
    1. Introducing the Adjustments panel
      4m 50s
    2. Using Hue/Saturation and the Target Adjustment tool
      4m 29s
    3. Adjusting brightness and contrast
      4m 46s
    4. Working with vibrance and saturation
      3m 31s
    5. Working with adjustment layer presets
      4m 4s
  14. 27m 10s
    1. Introducing levels
      3m 29s
    2. Enhancing color and tone with levels
      6m 32s
    3. Modifying color and contrast with levels
      6m 15s
    4. Using levels to make subjective color shifts
      5m 11s
    5. Using levels and masking
      3m 5s
    6. Creative tip: Checking in
      2m 38s
  15. 34m 14s
    1. Introducing the Curves dialog box
      2m 53s
    2. Demystifying curves
      5m 45s
    3. Using curves to modify color, contrast, and tone
      2m 58s
    4. Combining selections and masking with curves
      3m 6s
    5. Creating hand-painted masks
      4m 27s
    6. Enhancing a portrait with hand-painted masks
      6m 23s
    7. Using curves to enhance color
      4m 24s
    8. Using multiple curves adjustments
      1m 41s
    9. Using, modifying, and saving curves presets
      2m 37s
  16. 23m 5s
    1. Creative tip: Blending two elements
      58s
    2. Introducing blending modes
      2m 26s
    3. Blending modes visualized
      4m 40s
    4. Blending multiple images together
      4m 34s
    5. Using blending modes to remove white or black
      1m 53s
    6. Improving overexposure using blending
      1m 36s
    7. Improving underexposure using blending
      4m 8s
    8. Blending shortcuts
      2m 50s
  17. 16m 40s
    1. Correcting color with the eyedroppers
      4m 58s
    2. Correcting color and tone with the eyedroppers
      4m 14s
    3. Correcting color with Camera Raw
      1m 58s
    4. Camera Raw color correction with a color chart
      1m 52s
    5. Color-correcting skin by the numbers
      3m 38s
  18. 27m 27s
    1. Replacing color
      2m 9s
    2. Replacing color with Hue/Saturation
      5m 12s
    3. Modifying color with Selective Color
      3m 40s
    4. Modifying multiple colors with Selective Color
      3m 5s
    5. Creating dramatic sunset colors
      2m 59s
    6. Using Color Balance to improve sunrise colors
      1m 13s
    7. Using Color Balance, selections, and masks together
      4m 57s
    8. Improving a family portrait with Color Balance
      2m 35s
    9. Creative tip: Shoot more
      1m 37s
  19. 31m 12s
    1. Creative tip: The digital darkroom
      1m 20s
    2. Introducing the Burn and Dodge tools
      3m 22s
    3. Using the Burn and Dodge tools
      3m 31s
    4. Enhancing dimension with the Burn and Dodge tools
      3m 58s
    5. Improving tone with the Burn and Dodge tools
      3m 12s
    6. Using Soft Light for burning and dodging
      5m 58s
    7. Darkening with the Soft Light blending mode
      5m 39s
    8. Adding contrast to the highlights
      4m 12s
  20. 15m 1s
    1. Introducing black-and-white conversion
      4m 9s
    2. Converting a portrait to black-and-white
      4m 22s
    3. Converting a landscape to black-and-white
      2m 18s
    4. Adding grain and tone to a black-and-white image
      2m 39s
    5. Creative tip: Seeing beyond color
      1m 33s
  21. 11m 2s
    1. Adding lens flare
      3m 34s
    2. Adding film grain
      1m 47s
    3. Introducing Smart Filters
      1m 44s
    4. Applying Smart Filters
      3m 57s
  22. 10m 17s
    1. Reducing noise with Surface Blur
      4m 25s
    2. Using the Noise Reduction filter
      2m 56s
    3. Advanced noise reduction using channels
      2m 56s
  23. 45m 18s
    1. Using the Dust and Scratches filter
      3m 8s
    2. Removing dust and scratches with masking
      2m 44s
    3. Introducing the trio of healing tools
      5m 30s
    4. Using the Healing and Clone Stamp tools
      3m 26s
    5. Healing along edges and areas of contrast
      2m 8s
    6. Healing and patching
      5m 19s
    7. Using Content-Aware Fill
      4m 27s
    8. Using multiple content-aware tools for the best results
      4m 19s
    9. Making multiple selections with Content-Aware Fill
      2m 18s
    10. Deleting unwanted elements
      3m 59s
    11. Removing a garment strap with spot healing
      1m 46s
    12. Cleaning up an image with spot healing, cloning, and healing
      6m 14s
  24. 48m 59s
    1. Creative tip: Leaving crumbs
      1m 18s
    2. Whitening teeth
      2m 8s
    3. Improving eyes
      3m 24s
    4. Changing eye color
      2m 48s
    5. Enhancing makeup
      5m 33s
    6. Removing blemishes
      2m 20s
    7. Softening skin
      7m 0s
    8. Reducing shadows around eyes
      5m 32s
    9. Reducing and removing wrinkles around eyes
      6m 43s
    10. Improving highlights and shadows
      5m 6s
    11. Changing body size and shape with Liquify
      3m 50s
    12. Modifying the body with Puppet Warp
      3m 17s
  25. 23m 19s
    1. Using the Lens Correction filter
      5m 16s
    2. Removing distortion with Automatic Lens Correction
      2m 22s
    3. Improving a portrait with Lens Correction
      2m 16s
    4. Using Free Transform to correct perspective
      4m 47s
    5. Using Puppet Warp to correct perspective
      4m 47s
    6. Changing a portrait with Puppet Warp
      3m 51s
  26. 37m 11s
    1. Introducing Smart Sharpen
      4m 56s
    2. Smart Sharpen demystified
      5m 49s
    3. Smart Sharpen and masking
      8m 49s
    4. Using Smart Sharpen on small details
      5m 3s
    5. Using the Unsharp Mask filter
      6m 9s
    6. High Pass sharpening an image
      6m 25s
  27. 20m 5s
    1. Resizing for the web and email
      4m 23s
    2. Sharpening for the web and email
      2m 49s
    3. Correcting color for the web and email
      3m 50s
    4. Saving and exporting images for the web and email
      2m 43s
    5. Creating a web gallery
      4m 0s
    6. Sharing photos online
      2m 20s
  28. 17m 15s
    1. Desktop printing recommendations
      2m 46s
    2. Creating a PDF layout and contact sheets
      3m 5s
    3. Resizing and sharpening for a specific print size
      3m 12s
    4. Using Soft Proof to preview the print
      3m 48s
    5. Using the Print dialog box
      2m 25s
    6. Choosing printer settings
      1m 59s
  29. 56s
    1. Goodbye
      56s

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Photoshop CS5 for Photographers
12h 24m Beginner May 11, 2010

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

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.

Topics include:
  • Calibrating a monitor
  • Setting up color and file handling preferences
  • Resizing images
  • Processing images in Camera Raw
  • Creating, targeting, and moving layers
  • Making selections and taking advantage of the Refine Edge feature
  • Masking and selective sharpening
  • Improving a photo using Content-Aware Fill and the Puppet Warp tool
  • Enhancing color, tone, and contrast with Levels
  • Improving under- and overexposure using blending
  • Burning and dodging techniques
  • Converting an image to black and white
  • Retouching essentials
  • Publishing images to the web
Subject:
Photography
Software:
Photoshop
Author:
Chris Orwig

Enhancing color and tone with levels

Let's begin to take a look at how we can use Levels in order to improve our photographs. And here, we're going to be working with two different images: santa_barbara_mission.psd and chalk_drawing.psd. Let's go ahead and open up chalk_drawing.psd. I'll press F to go to Full Screen View mode here. What I want to do with this image is I want to improve the overall contrast and also the color saturation. Along the way, I want to talk a little bit about how Levels actually works. One of the things that's actually quite important when working with Levels is to understand this idea of a Histogram.

I'm going to click on this layer here, which will show us a screen-grab of a Histogram. What a Histogram does is it displays the tonal values of your photograph. In other words, it shows us how much black we have down here, a lot of darker tones, and also how many brighter tones we have. And in this case, you can see that there are some gaps in the Histogram. Well, let's compare this to the Histogram for this photograph. We can go to Window and then choose Histogram, in order to open up the Histogram for this image.

Now, when you look at the Histogram for this image, one of things that you're seeing is that we have the different color channels represented here, and we have the overall tone. And the tone map is pretty similar to what we have here, but there aren't gaps. The gaps that we're seeing here are called combing. And what happens is is that when we make adjustments, we can actually stretch this histogram out in order to create more contrast, or in order to change the tone. Now, I'm aware that this may sound really abstract, but I want to show you this visual before we make the adjustment, so that we can refer back to this in a minute.

Okay, well, let's turn off the visibility of this layer. Next, what I'm going to do is go ahead and click on the Levels Adjustment Layer icon. And again, here we can see we have our Histogram. Well, what I'm going to do with this Histogram is I'm going to bring my black point in, and also my white point down and here's why. The tonal values here are showing me that I have blacks down to this point, but I have nothing that's pure black. That's why this image doesn't look very snappy. It doesn't have a lot of contrast. The same thing goes for my whites.

So in this case, what I need to do is to bring in both of these points until I have the start of information, or where my Histogram shows me that there's something visible. And now I have a much more compelling image. I pushed, or stretched, the whites out so now I have that, and you can see up here we have the combing in the Histogram. In other words, it took the distribution of these values and then almost a accordion-stretched to the extremes. So now, we have something that is a deep black, and we have something that is a bright white.

Let's take a look at our before and after. Here we have our before, and then we have our after, a much more compelling and interesting image. We can also modify the mi-tones here. We could affect the overall brightness of the image, and we could continually make changes. And the nice thing about using Levels is that Levels can really make our images come to life. And you can see here that when we use adjustment layer, we can continually make changes, or for that matter we can always simply delete this and get rid of this layer. Now, the other thing that I want to point out is that this combing is stretching the Histogram.

Now, occasionally, you'll hear people say that oh, that's bad. We have these gaps in the Histogram. Well, that's only bad if the image doesn't look good, or if we can't recreate or print the image. In this case, a small adjustment like this is nothing but an improvement. But let's say, for example, that we make this same adjustment multiple times. We can do that by pressing Command+J on a Mac, or Ctrl+J on a PC. Now, look at the combing. Look at the gaps in the Histogram. Let's do that again. Command+J on a Mac or Ctrl+J on a PC, and let's keep doing that.

And again, of course this is an exaggeration, as I keep doing this, but here you're seeing that we have so many gaps between these little tonal values that it's not even an image anymore. We've completely lost detail, and this image can't be reproduced. Now, we would only do something this extreme if we're interested in creating a special effect. So we do have to watch out for this because we are losing information, but keep in mind that what matters is how much information we're losing; for example, going back to our original adjustment here, before and after, sure we have lost the little information, but that image still looks really good.

For that matter, if we duplicated that, even to this point here, we may still be okay. The only thing we might want to do is to change some of our sliders here so it's not quite so intense on the second adjustment. So here you can begin to see that Levels can really make your images come to life. All right. Well, let's go to our other photograph, and just apply one more Levels adjustment, and this time we'll select the other image by going to window and then choosing santa_barbara_mission.psd. Because that image is already open, we can find it in this Window pulldown menu. All right.

Here, I've a photograph of a reflection of the Santa Barbara Mission. It's located in the town where I live. And in the Histogram, you'll notice that there aren't any deep blacks, or aren't any bright whites, and the image is kind of flat. It's kind of lifeless. Well, Levels to the rescue, right? So we'll click on the Levels icon. We'll go ahead and click and drag our black point until we have some relevant information there, and then we'll click and drag on our white point, again, until we have some relevant information. And then what we can do is swing our midtones one way or another.

Let's take a look at this. Here we have our before and then our after. Now, a lot of times, what you may want to do is apply a Levels adjustment to get the tone in the right place and then let's apply another adjustment. I'm going to click on the arrow icon. Here I'm going to choose Vibrance. And this time, I'm going to add a little Vibrance to these colors and a little bit of Saturation. You can see that's affecting the Histogram in the distribution of the tones, yet nonetheless, the image is looking so much better. All right. Well, let's take a look at our before and after.

I'll go ahead and turn off the visibility of these layers. Here's before, and then here's after. With a couple of simple adjustments, this image now pops and snaps, and what we've done is not only increased our overall contrast; we've also worked on the color a little bit in order to make the image that much stronger.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about Photoshop CS5 for Photographers.


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Q: The instructor recommends using the ColorMunki by X-Rite for monitor calibration, but X-Rite makes multiple ColorMunki products. Which ColorMunki is used in the video?
A: The product referred to in the video is the ColorMunki Photo.
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