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All right, that was fun, but it might make Photoshop seem a bit complex, and really, it's such a simple program. Three things you need to know about it. First, it sees every photograph, no matter how colorful, as one grayscale channel at a time. Second, it lives and breathes luminance levels, starting with black and ending with white. And third, it likes transitions, edges where dark turns to light in fairly short order. That last item becomes important in the next chapter.
For now, we care about the channel by channel grayscale images and the luminance levels from black to white. There are three ranges of luminance levels; highlights, which are the lightest ones, shadows, which are the darkest ones, and midtones, which are all the ones in between. Photoshop gives you two commands for addressing them; Levels, which gives you independent control over highlight, shadows, and midtones, and Curves, which gives you access to that and more. They both operate on a channel by channel basis, and together they let you take a good image, looks fine, and make it absolutely sizzle.
They are the left and right ventricle of Photoshop.
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