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When it comes to using Curves in Photoshop there are two ways to use them and this applies to most image adjustments. I can come up here to the Image > Adjustment menu and access any of these and that would apply it to a flat image, the advantages here, it's fast and easy and my file size is a little bit smaller. But the most power and the ability to reedit the image come in Adjustment layers, and those are all served over here on the right. So to show you more about how to use Curves, we're going to use an Adjustment layer. I can pull this out, so I've a little bit larger dialog and the best way to start here again is just click Auto and see what you get, and if I like that result, I can either work from there, brighten the highlights, darken the shadows by pulling these down or at any point I can reset.
I also have these great Presets, so maybe I want a Strong Contrast image, I can use the same approach. I basically like what I have here, but maybe I want the dark area a little darker, so I want to pull this down a bit. Now one of the common pitfalls in applying a Curve is adding too many points. And what can happen if you do this is as you start to pull these, your image begins to look a little weird and you could just reset here, but the other thing that makes it a lot easier is to just grab one of these points, click on it and you'll see that it's dark and then you can hit the Delete key to remove it.
Or you can grab it and just pull it off of the Curve and it disappears as soon as I snap that away. So, you don't have to undo all of your work, you can just pull off individual points in the curve. I think that probably the easiest and one of the most powerful ways is to use the On Image control for Curves. So if I want the sky darker, just click on that and pull it down. If I want the shadows darker, click on those, pull it down, and if I want this midtones brighter or darker, I can adjust those. And I think it's really key to save what you want, when you get a look that you want, take the time to go ahead and save your presets.
So that's really the key to reusing your assets here. So I can come in here and I can save that Curve Preset or maybe if someone else shared a curve preset with me, I could load that as well. Now the great thing about this being an Adjustment layer is maybe I come over and make this black and white, and I make some huge change to it. Well, later if I want to go back and change the curve, I just click on Curves and I have all of those controls that I put in here before, and maybe I decide I like that strong contrast preset a little bit better.
Now sort of a power user tip for Adjustment layers, as you can change the look even more by using Blend modes, and what Blend modes are is how the Adjustment layer behaves with the image. So over here, if I were to change this to say Darken or Multiply, I'll see that I get an entirely different image. So by using Adjustment layers and Curves together, you really get a unique result with your images. So that gives you an idea of just how powerful Curves are and how easy they can be to use.
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