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In this movie, we'll use the histogram to gauge the quality of our Brightness/Contrast correction so far and to make further adjustments. I've saved my progress inside the dark butterfly image as Masked adjustment.psd. And I'm going to bring up my Histogram panel by clicking on that little histogram icon right there in the icon column. And notice here inside this Luminosity histogram, I can see that I've got lots of midtones. However, my shadows are pretty weak actually and I don't have a lot going in the way of highlights either.
Now if you see this little warning, this little caution icon, that's telling you that the histogram isn't fully cached, which means that it's not quite accurate. And what you do to increase the accuracy of the histogram, is you just click on the caution icon or on that little update icon directly above it. Either one will address the problem. And in most cases, it's not going to change very much. Now as soon as I edit this Adjustment layer, that's going to bring up the Properties panel and hide the Histogram panel, so I want to move the histogram to a new location by dragging inside this empty area here, that'll move all the panels in a group, and I'm going to drag it over until I see a horizontal blue line directly above the Layers panel and I'll drop it.
And that way the histogram will stay on screen. Now I'm going to drop down to the Layers panel and double-click on the thumbnail for my Adjustment layer to bring up the Properties panel. Now what's going to happen here is if I increase the brightness of the image, the histogram is going to shift over to the right, because the entire image is growing brighter. If I reduce the Brightness value, then histogram is going to shift all the way over to the left, because we're darkening the image. I'm going to go ahead and return that brightness value to 110. Meanwhile, if you reduce the Contrast value, you'll bunch up the histogram toward the center and you'll lose shadows and highlights.
Whereas, if you increase the Contrast value, then you're going to spread the histogram outward and you're going to fill in those shadows and highlights. And in fact, I can go ahead and take this Contrast value all the way up to 100 and I'm not getting any clipping. Once again the big thing you're looking for is to make sure that you're not clipping any shadow or highlight details inside the image. If you were clipping shadows, you'd see a big spike over here on the left-hand side. If you were clipping highlights, you'd see a spike over on the right-hand side. But we're okay.
And if you want to confirm that you've got the accurate histogram, go ahead and click on that caution icon again, and you can see that everything is looking good. Just so that you can see how far we've come with this image, I'm going to click on the background layer to make it active. Now you might think that Photoshop would naturally pick up the histogram from the active layer, but instead it's sourcing the entire composite image, meaning, both the original photograph and the Adjustment layer. To look at the selected layer by itself, go ahead and switch to Selected Layer and now you can see what an unmitigated disaster this original image was.
We had a bunch of shadow detail going on here and nothing in the way of upper midtowns and highlights. But now that I have applied that Adjustment layer, the effects of which I can see by switching back to entire image and updating the histogram, you can see that we have a much more balanced range of luminance levels inside the final version of our correction. And that's how you use a histogram to gauge the quality of your adjustments and see just how far you can go.
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