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Modifying input levels

From: Photoshop CS4 One-on-One: Advanced

Video: Modifying input levels

In this exercise we are going to take a look at ways to adjust the composite histogram here inside of the Adjustments palette, and in subsequent exercises we will take a look at Output Levels, we will take a look at adjusting the histogram on a channel by channel basis, and a few other nuanced modifications that you might apply. So I'm still working inside of the photograph of Max, but I have gone ahead and saved my progress so far as an image called Semi-corrected.psd and notice that I have gone ahead and named this adjustment layer that I have created. I have called it Auto Color, Clip 0.2%, which is for the shadows, and 1.5%, which is for the highlights.

Modifying input levels

In this exercise we are going to take a look at ways to adjust the composite histogram here inside of the Adjustments palette, and in subsequent exercises we will take a look at Output Levels, we will take a look at adjusting the histogram on a channel by channel basis, and a few other nuanced modifications that you might apply. So I'm still working inside of the photograph of Max, but I have gone ahead and saved my progress so far as an image called Semi-corrected.psd and notice that I have gone ahead and named this adjustment layer that I have created. I have called it Auto Color, Clip 0.2%, which is for the shadows, and 1.5%, which is for the highlights.

You would normally be able to confirm that by going up to the Adjustments palette here. You just click on this adjustment layer, go to the Adjustments palette, theoretically it would be open for you, and you would just Alt+click or Option+click on Auto, and that would bring up your last hue settings. Now it's working for me because I just got done applying them. For you however, when you open up this image, assuming that you are using the first version of Photoshop CS4 and they haven't bugged fixed this yet, it's probably going to reset everything to Enhance Per Channel Contrast and the Clip values will be their defaults of 0.1% apiece.

So it doesn't remember the previous settings, which is really actually not a good thing, but anyway you could reset them just by applying the settings you see right here on the screen. Anyway I'm going to cancel out. And tell you what, this is a pretty good automatic color correction, I would go so far as to say. But let's try something different without completely ruining our previous settings. So let's just go ahead and turn the old adjustment layer off, so that it's sitting there waiting to be used again. The great thing about the adjustment layers, as I mentioned this earlier in my Fundamental Series, but notice down here in the lower left corner of the image window, we'll see Doc is 9.79M flat, and then we see a slash, and it's also 9.79M including layers.

So the adjustment layer doesn't take up any room, and when I say it doesn't take up any room, it takes up a few bytes of data, and bytes are little bitty bits of data. They are eight bits of data a piece actually. But they are nothing compared to kilobytes and kilobytes are nothing compared to megabytes, which are nothing compared to gigabytes, and terabytes, and all the other things that will bite you. So anyway, I'm just saying that these are really tiny and you might as well just keep them. So keeping old unused adjustment layers is just fine and actually a good practice. So now I'm going to go back to the Adjustments palette, this whopping big palette that is taking up so much space on my screen, which I resent, by the way, I should just say this very quickly.

Notice this big empty space down here? The reason we are seeing this big empty space down here is because the Adjustments palette is always set to consume as much space as the biggest adjustment, which happens to be Curves. So the Curves Adjustments as we'll see will take up this entire region, but Levels doesn't. I wish this darn thing was smart enough to collapse if we don't need the unused space, because Layers are getting squished down here, and they are going to get even more squished in just a second, but not the way things are working out right now. So I'm going to click on this green arrow right there, to return to my Adjustments list, and then I'm going to Alt+Click or Option+Click on this little levels icon right there and by the virtue of the fact I have the Alt or Option key down, Alt on PC, Option on Mac, I'll bring up the New Layer dialog box, and I'll call this Composite histogram modification, but that's implied, I'm not going to type that in there.

Then I'll click OK in order to create this new Composite histogram levels adjustment and notice that my image itself is rolled off the bottom of the Layers palette, because this big monstrous Adjustments palette is squishing it, but it's still there of course, it's still down there. Anyway, got this Levels adjustment selected, and now let's focus our attention on this middle region right here, which contains the histogram itself, and these three values below the histogram which are the input levels.

I should say whether you are working within adjustment layer the way we are, or a composite levels modification, then you are going to see a histogram, and you would see that if you are working with a composite modification, by which I mean a static modification, that's what I meant to say. If you went and applied, for example, under the image menu, you went to Adjustments and then you applied the levels command, which I can't right now, because I have an adjustment layer selected. But if you went that route, you would still see a histogram inside the Levels dialog box, and you would see these three values right here. So everything works the same, and what we are saying, this histogram, I was saying way back in Chapter 5 of the Fundamental Series, I was telling you that this histogram is a bar graph, of all the luminance levels which are the little brightness values, the luminance levels inside of the image, from black, over here on the left all the way over to white, over here on the right. This graph when you are looking at the expanded view of this palette, which we are, and you can switch between the two.

You can switch between the itsy bitsy standard view, which is squished. It unsquishes the Layers pallette, but squishes the Adjustments palette which is no good, and of course the expanded view which is better by clicking on this little folder icon right there. When you are working in the expanded view, the histogram is exactly 256 pixels wide, which is important, because there are 256 different luminance levels per channel inside of a standard 8 bit per channel image, which is the way that JPEG images for example are saved, all JPEGs are saved that way, JPEG, RGB images.

Anyway, notice these values underneath the graph, 0 represents black, and this first value corresponds to the little black slider triangle, and this last value here, the third value, corresponds to the little white slider triangle, and it's 255, which is the luminance level for white. Now I was telling you there are 256 different luminance levels, and this tends to confuse people, why is white 255 and black is zero? 255 plus zero does not equal 256, where did the last guy go? Well it's black, So in other words, here's how it works. One, there is a brightness value right next door, right, if I were to move this over just ever so slightly, just one pixel over, there is the brightness value of one, which is a very dark color, not quite black, but very dark. So you got one going all the way over to 255, so those are your first 255 different luminance levels, plus you've got yourself black, which is represented by the number zero, but it's still a distinct value.

So you don't add zero, you just add one more value for black and you would get 256 different variations. So if I were to work with this graph here, if I were to drag the black slider over to the right, until I get an initial input levels value there of 12, then I'm saying, anything with a luminance level of 12 or darker is going to get clipped to black, and that is going to then spread out my histogram over the remaining area. This might make even more sense if I were to take this white slider triangle, and notice how it's communicating its information here with this third numerical option there. If I drag it over to 192, let's say, then I'm saying anything with the brightness value of 192 or brighter is turning white, and that's going to stretch this remaining area here, this histogram across the entire histogram space.

So in other words, we are increasing the contrast of the image, and you can see that actually happening here inside the image window. See this guy right there, this little option right there; if I were to click and hold on it, then I'll see the default version of the image, with the current adjustment turned off. So it temporarily turns off the layer, and then if I release, I'll see the corrected version of the image. So in other words, click and hold for before, release for after, and you'll notice there's a little keyboard shortcut associated with it, that's the Backslash key, and if you press and hold Backslash, you may have luck with getting this to turn off for a second and then release Backslash again to see the after version of the image.

However, if I were to do it right now, it would try to enter a backslash character into this little highlighted option, and so let me see if I can click on something else here, like this RGB Channel option, and then I'll press the Esc key. Now let me see, if I press and hold the Backslash key, now it's working. So I'll press and hold Backslash in order to see the before version of the image, so it's press and hold, and then release in order to see the after version. So I'm just letting you know it's there, because you might see the tip. I don't really think much of the keyboard shortcut, because it frequently doesn't work, because one of the numerical options is highlighted and it's preventing it from working, and that can be a pain in the neck, but it's there.

I just want you to know it's there. By the way, notice that I kind of moved the black slider triangle to the beginning of the humpolumpolas of the histogram here, and then I move the white one to the end of it. So that we're tucking right next to the mountainous region, and that's pretty standard behavior, that's kind of what you typically want to do. And when I say kind of typically, I mean almost always, but I'll show you a few more nuanced approaches as we get further into this, but I just wanted to give you a sense of kind of what you tend to do when you are approaching this histogram.

In that way you are just clipping the dead stuff down here. So you are clipping away the dead grass, as it were, down here in the plains, the low lands. So many analogies I can share with you that aren't really serving you any good. So now, in between the white point and the black point is this gray point right here, which is the gamma value. Notice that it's represented totally differently. It represents that middle gray which if you divide 255 by 2, you would either get like 127 or 128.

So you would think maybe that's how they would represent this value right here, but instead it's 1.0, because it's an exponent, and I'm going to explain how this function works, this gamma value, because it's very, very important to correcting your images. We are going to spend a little time with it in the very next exercise.

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This video is part of

Image for Photoshop CS4 One-on-One: Advanced
Photoshop CS4 One-on-One: Advanced

218 video lessons · 23883 viewers

Deke McClelland
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 22m 32s
    1. Welcome to Photoshop CS4 One-on-One Advanced
      1m 43s
    2. Installing the DekeKeys keyboard shortcuts
      6m 17s
    3. Resetting the function keys on a Mac
      3m 51s
    4. Installing the CS4 color settings
      4m 37s
    5. Setting up the CS4 color settings
      6m 4s
  2. 2h 43m
    1. Highlights, shadows, and midtones
      49s
    2. Low contrast, bad meter
      5m 57s
    3. Auto tone, contrast, and color
      8m 1s
    4. Cache levels and the Histogram palette
      7m 16s
    5. How the auto commands work
      10m 15s
    6. A first look at Levels
      6m 11s
    7. Target colors and clipping
      9m 6s
    8. Modifying input levels
      9m 44s
    9. Adjusting the gamma value
      7m 34s
    10. Previewing clipping
      7m 17s
    11. The futility of output levels
      4m 56s
    12. Channel-by-channel edits
      11m 54s
    13. When levels fail
      4m 34s
    14. A first look at Curves
      8m 46s
    15. Static Curves layer tricks
      7m 45s
    16. Dynamic Curves layer tricks
      7m 25s
    17. Correcting the composite image
      8m 30s
    18. Neutralizing a color cast
      6m 52s
    19. The Target Adjustment tool in Curves
      8m 29s
    20. Correcting an image in Lab
      10m 7s
    21. The Shadows/Highlights filter
      4m 18s
    22. Radius and tonal width
      8m 11s
  3. 1h 48m
    1. Edge-enhancement tricks
      1m 13s
    2. How sharpening works
      3m 48s
    3. The single-shot sharpeners
      4m 29s
    4. The Unsharp Mask filter
      7m 57s
    5. Understanding the Radius value
      6m 25s
    6. Gauging the best settings
      7m 47s
    7. Previewing how sharpening will print
      3m 37s
    8. Measuring and setting screen resolution
      6m 56s
    9. Tweaking the screen resolution
      4m 28s
    10. Sharpening the luminance data
      8m 23s
    11. USM vs. Smart Sharpen
      4m 23s
    12. Smart Sharpen's Remove settings
      5m 50s
    13. High-resolution sharpening
      6m 16s
    14. When to leave More Accurate off
      3m 48s
    15. When to turn More Accurate on
      4m 23s
    16. The advanced options
      7m 57s
    17. Saving Smart Sharpen settings
      4m 23s
    18. Accounting for camera shake
      7m 7s
    19. Sharpening with the High Pass filter
      9m 8s
  4. 2h 16m
    1. Why would you blur?
      1m 8s
    2. Fading after an undo
      3m 27s
    3. The "bell-shaped" Gaussian Blur
      5m 43s
    4. The linear Box Blur
      3m 6s
    5. Add Noise vs. Median
      4m 50s
    6. Despeckle vs. Dust & Scratches
      6m 31s
    7. Smart Blur vs. Surface Blur
      8m 13s
    8. The Motion Blur filter
      4m 33s
    9. Radial Blur's Spin and Zoom variations
      5m 48s
    10. Mixing filtered effects
      3m 56s
    11. The "Captain Kirk in Love" effect
      5m 4s
    12. Diffusing focus with Blur and Overlay
      8m 50s
    13. Simulating Vaseline and film grain
      8m 2s
    14. Filling a layer with a neutral color
      2m 55s
    15. Old-school contrast reduction
      3m 39s
    16. Three steps to diffused focus
      7m 36s
    17. Averaging skin tones
      9m 45s
    18. Addressing the stubborn patches
      5m 26s
    19. Combining Gaussian Blur and Average
      6m 1s
    20. Blurring surface details
      3m 2s
    21. Smoothing blemishes while matching noise
      8m 6s
    22. Reducing digital noise
      8m 47s
    23. Striking a smooth/sharpen compromise
      4m 36s
    24. Smoothing over JPEG artifacts
      7m 38s
  5. 2h 31m
    1. Independent layers of color adjustment
      1m 7s
    2. Undersea color channels
      4m 2s
    3. Inventing a Red channel with Lab
      8m 20s
    4. Mixing color channels
      6m 55s
    5. Making shadows with Levels
      7m 5s
    6. Applying small color adjustments
      6m 0s
    7. Further modifying Levels in Lab
      8m 50s
    8. Creating a dynamic fill layer
      4m 38s
    9. Brushing and blending color
      4m 42s
    10. Working with "found masks"
      7m 31s
    11. Saturation, sharpen, and crop
      8m 9s
    12. Mixing a monochromatic image
      7m 2s
    13. Masking an adjustment layer
      4m 45s
    14. Working with Opacity and blend modes
      3m 39s
    15. Adding a black-and-white adjustment
      5m 53s
    16. The Target Adjustment tool in black and white
      6m 12s
    17. Tinting a monochrome photo
      3m 19s
    18. Introducing Gradient Map
      4m 17s
    19. Adjusting both color and luminance
      5m 44s
    20. Infusing elements with different colors
      6m 22s
    21. Adjustment layers as creative tools
      4m 33s
    22. Inverting and brightening the background
      5m 14s
    23. Blurring live, editable type
      5m 43s
    24. Hue, saturation, and darkness
      6m 51s
    25. Filling type with a color adjustment
      3m 24s
    26. Using one adjustment to modify another
      3m 21s
    27. Breathing color into the title
      3m 38s
    28. The Hue/Saturation humanoid
      3m 44s
  6. 1h 48m
    1. Parametric operations
      1m 23s
    2. The power of blend modes
      6m 16s
    3. Changing the Opacity value
      5m 46s
    4. Opacity vs. Fill Opacity
      4m 37s
    5. Meet the blend modes
      6m 4s
    6. Blend mode shortcuts
      7m 8s
    7. Darken, Multiply, and the Burn modes
      6m 33s
    8. Tempering a Burn effect with Fill
      4m 43s
    9. Saving a blended state
      4m 18s
    10. Lighten, Screen, and the Dodge modes
      8m 22s
    11. Linear Burn = Add minus white
      5m 31s
    12. Overlay and the contrast modes
      6m 52s
    13. Fill Opacity takes priority
      6m 19s
    14. Difference and exclusion
      5m 21s
    15. Using difference for golden highlights
      4m 2s
    16. The composite (HSL) modes
      6m 8s
    17. The brush-only modes: Behind and Clear
      10m 31s
    18. Layer groups and the Pass Through mode
      8m 54s
  7. 1h 53m
    1. It's all about the presentation
      58s
    2. Moving a layer a specific number of pixels
      6m 59s
    3. Adding a pixel mask to a layer
      5m 48s
    4. Editing a layer mask
      7m 19s
    5. Combining layers into a clipping mask
      6m 19s
    6. Introducing the Advanced Blending options
      4m 45s
    7. Using the luminance blending sliders
      7m 26s
    8. Forcing through underlying luminance
      4m 32s
    9. Masking with a path outline
      5m 45s
    10. Refining a mask from the Masks palette
      7m 18s
    11. Creating and modifying a layer group
      3m 29s
    12. Establishing a knockout group
      5m 29s
    13. Fixing last-minute problems
      6m 23s
    14. Introducing layer comps
      6m 40s
    15. Exploring layered states
      6m 43s
    16. Deleting layers and updating comps
      6m 18s
    17. Saving a basic composition
      6m 21s
    18. Assigning and saving appearance attributes
      7m 15s
    19. Layer comps dos and don'ts
      7m 27s
  8. 1h 56m
    1. Type: The great imaging exception
      56s
    2. Establishing default formatting attributes
      4m 5s
    3. Saving formatting attributes as a preset
      8m 5s
    4. Making a point text layer
      6m 18s
    5. Editing size and leading
      6m 44s
    6. Working with vector-based text
      6m 12s
    7. Formatting area text
      4m 16s
    8. Creating a layer of area text
      3m 20s
    9. Resizing the text frame
      4m 34s
    10. Changing the anti-aliasing setting
      3m 58s
    11. Obscure but important formatting options
      6m 31s
    12. Text editing tricks and shortcuts
      8m 44s
    13. Creating a cast shadow
      6m 1s
    14. Blurred shadows and beveled text
      7m 16s
    15. Drawing a path outline
      4m 51s
    16. Creating type on a path
      6m 39s
    17. Flipping text across a circle
      3m 18s
    18. Vertical alignment with baseline shift
      4m 16s
    19. Warping text
      4m 57s
    20. Scaling your text to taste
      3m 33s
    21. Applying a custom warp
      6m 24s
    22. Creating an engraved text effect
      5m 11s
  9. 2h 17m
    1. Bending an image to fit your needs
      53s
    2. Creating a canvas texture
      6m 48s
    3. Masking objects against a white background
      5m 42s
    4. Scaling an image to fit a composition
      8m 9s
    5. Aligning one layer to fit another
      3m 51s
    6. Changing the Image Interpolation
      8m 10s
    7. Merging faces
      5m 32s
    8. Rotating the first clock hand
      7m 17s
    9. Adding hands and pasting styles
      6m 40s
    10. Series duplication in Photoshop
      4m 35s
    11. Masking objects against a black background
      6m 34s
    12. Skews and perspective distortions
      7m 57s
    13. Envelope-style warps
      9m 2s
    14. Old-school distortion filters
      8m 50s
    15. Introducing the Liquify filter
      4m 9s
    16. Reconstructing an image
      6m 55s
    17. Using the Warp tool
      5m 16s
    18. The Pucker and Bloat tools
      5m 53s
    19. Push, Turbulence, and Twirl
      6m 41s
    20. The Freeze and Thaw mask tools
      5m 45s
    21. Saving and loading a mesh file
      3m 59s
    22. Creating and applying a texture layer
      8m 30s
  10. 1h 28m
    1. Effects vs. styles
      1m 11s
    2. Of layer styles and masks
      4m 37s
    3. Everything about drop shadow
      8m 2s
    4. Adding a directional glow
      4m 39s
    5. Colorizing with Color Overlay
      5m 18s
    6. Stroke and fill opacity
      5m 48s
    7. Creating a multicolor Outer Glow
      9m 22s
    8. Introducing Bevel and Emboss
      7m 48s
    9. Contour and Texture
      4m 35s
    10. Simulating liquid reflections
      6m 28s
    11. Saving layer styles
      6m 18s
    12. Applying and appending styles
      4m 36s
    13. Saving and swapping style presets
      3m 16s
    14. The five effect helpers
      3m 47s
    15. Blending the effect before the layer
      5m 1s
    16. Colorizing a signature
      3m 30s
    17. Clipping an effect with a mask
      4m 5s
  11. 1h 50m
    1. Welcome to the digital darkroom
      1m 46s
    2. Opening Camera Raw in the Bridge
      5m 44s
    3. The Camera Raw 5 interface
      4m 39s
    4. Adjusting the white balance
      5m 0s
    5. Finessing and saving changes
      7m 55s
    6. Using the White Balance tool
      2m 43s
    7. Working with the Exposure controls
      7m 34s
    8. Straightening and cropping a raw image
      5m 53s
    9. Applying automatic exposure adjustments
      6m 6s
    10. Exposure warnings
      5m 44s
    11. Clarity, Vibrance, and Saturation
      4m 47s
    12. Using the Graduated Filter tool
      3m 33s
    13. Dodging with the Adjustment brush
      9m 24s
    14. Tone Curve adjustments
      6m 54s
    15. Using the Spot Removal tool
      2m 48s
    16. Removing noise and sharpening detail
      4m 5s
    17. Adjusting HSL values
      4m 18s
    18. Adjusting luminance, color by color
      4m 14s
    19. Black and white and split toning
      5m 16s
    20. Camera Raw tips and tricks
      7m 32s
    21. Correcting JPEG and TIFF images
      4m 42s
  12. 57s
    1. Until next time
      57s

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