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Improving tonality with Brightness/Contrast

From: Photoshop CS6 Image Optimization Workshop

Video: Improving tonality with Brightness/Contrast

One of the first things you're likely to notice about a photograph is its overall exposure. And that usually translates into overall brightness levels and overall contrast. As such, very often one of the most important adjustments you can make, and perhaps the first adjustment you'll want to apply to an image, Is one that affects the overall brightness and contrast. Let's take a look at a very simple adjustment for enhancing the overall luminance values in an image. That is the Brightness Contrast Adjustment. I'll go ahead and Click on the Add New Adjustment Layer button at the bottom of the Layers panel. And then from the popup menu I'll choose Brightness Contrast. That will add a Brightness Contrast Adjustment layer on the Layers panel. And it will also display the Brightness Contrast sliders on the Properties panel. As you can see, this adjustment is very, very straightforward. If we increase the Brightness value, we'll brighten the image. If we decrease the Brightness value we'll darken the image. If we increase contrast, of course, the contrast increases in the image and if we reduce the value for contrast, obviously, the image becomes less contrasty. As with most adjustments, of course, in many cases, less is more. So you don't want to take the adjustments too far. In this particular image, I think I'd like to brighten things up just a little bit.

Improving tonality with Brightness/Contrast

One of the first things you're likely to notice about a photograph is its overall exposure. And that usually translates into overall brightness levels and overall contrast. As such, very often one of the most important adjustments you can make, and perhaps the first adjustment you'll want to apply to an image, Is one that affects the overall brightness and contrast. Let's take a look at a very simple adjustment for enhancing the overall luminance values in an image. That is the Brightness Contrast Adjustment. I'll go ahead and Click on the Add New Adjustment Layer button at the bottom of the Layers panel. And then from the popup menu I'll choose Brightness Contrast. That will add a Brightness Contrast Adjustment layer on the Layers panel. And it will also display the Brightness Contrast sliders on the Properties panel. As you can see, this adjustment is very, very straightforward. If we increase the Brightness value, we'll brighten the image. If we decrease the Brightness value we'll darken the image. If we increase contrast, of course, the contrast increases in the image and if we reduce the value for contrast, obviously, the image becomes less contrasty. As with most adjustments, of course, in many cases, less is more. So you don't want to take the adjustments too far. In this particular image, I think I'd like to brighten things up just a little bit.

And perhaps increase contrast just to make the image a little bit more dramatic. Those sliders are, of course, very, very easy to work with. You'll note that there is a Use Legacy check box and as far as I'm concerned you can just pretend that that check box does not exist. The Brightness Contrast adjustment was updated by Adobe several versions ago. And that caused a change in the formulation used for brightness contrast. The benefit is that these adjustments are now much more intelligent. They're much better adjustments than they had been previously.

In particular we're able to increase brightness without getting a severely washed out appearance in the image, and we're able to adjust contrast without creating extreme results with sometimes just minor adjustments. So great improvements. The only reason you would need to use that Use Legacy check box is if you were going to send a layered file that included a brightness contrast adjustment to someone that was using an older version of Photoshop. But for most of us I don't think that's going to be an issue. First of all we tend not to send layered files to others, and also, of course, most folks who are using Photoshop and working with layered files are using at least a relatively new version of Photoshop.

So for a very simple adjustment that affects the overall exposure the brightness values and the contrast within the image the brightness contrast adjustment can actually be quite helpful.

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Photoshop CS6 Image Optimization Workshop

28 video lessons · 456 viewers

Tim Grey
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