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Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Advanced, the second part of the popular and comprehensive series, updated for CS5, follows internationally renowned Photoshop guru Deke McClelland as he dives into the workings of Photoshop. He explores such digital-age wonders as the Levels and Curves commands, edge-detection filters, advanced compositing techniques, vector-based text, the Liquify filter, and Camera Raw. Deke also teaches tried-and-true methods for sharpening details, smoothing over wrinkles and imperfections, and enhancing colors without harming the original image. Exercise files accompany the course.
Recommended prerequisite: Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Fundamentals.
I'm still working inside Ventura harbor.dng found inside the 24_camera_raw folder. In this exercise, I'm going to show you how to work with the variations on the curves adjustment that's found only inside the Camera RAW dialog box and that's the parametric tone curve. Now, you may recall that what I want to do here is I want to expand the shadows. I want to brighten up the shadows. So I'm going to start things off by increasing that Shadows value there, and I'll start by taking it up to +50, let's say. That has an interesting effect on the image.
I wouldn't say it's altogether positive, because we're sort of washing out some of the detail in the background. We'll come back to that. We are boosting the shadows, so they're brightening up quite nicely. However, we're also bringing out a ton of noise in this image, and anytime you make big modifications to your shadows, when you stretch out that shadow detail you're going to bring out a bunch of noise. That's just something that happens. We can counteract the effect of that noise using the next panel of options, the Detail options, and I'll show you how those work shortly.
But in the meantime, I want you to be aware that there is a Targeted Adjustment tool inside of Camera RAW. In fact, Adobe added this tool to Camera RAW and Lightroom before it appeared inside of Photoshop. You may recall in Photoshop, we have a Target Adjustment tool that's associated with the Curves adjustment, Hue/ Saturation, and Black-and-White, and that's the same way it is here inside Camera RAW. If you click and hold on this tool, you'll see that there's five different behaviors. You can adjust Parametric Curves or Hue, Saturation and Luminance, which is essentially your Hue/Saturation functions, all be it with a lot more control, and then we have Grayscale Mix for mixing your own black-and-white images.
Now, you can switch between these settings if you want to and Camera RAW will automatically take you to the appropriate panel of options, or you can switch to the desired panel in the first place, then just go ahead and select the tool, and it will automatically adopt the behavior of the given panel. Anyway, that's what I'm going to do. I'll just select Parametric Curve. Not even necessary. If I just clicked on the tool or pressed the T key, I would get that behavior as well. Then let's say I decide to drag up even further here inside my very dark shadows.
So I'm dragging upward to increase the value, and I'm going to end up taking it to 85. So +85 was a value I'm looking for. That creates a big hump over here in the bottom-left region of the graph. Now I'll drag from approximately here downward in order to darken my Darks up just a little bit to -10. I'm going to leave my lights alone, because they're in pretty good shape, that is the brighter midtones. However, where the highlights are concerned, I actually want to brighten them up. So I'm going to drag in this light region in the background until I increase my Highlights value to +50 and my reasoning there was I want to enhance the fog effect a little.
That is, I want the lights to be shimmering through the cloud coverage. As a result, I get this effect here. So I've got a lump over here on the left- hand side, a little bit of a dip in the middle, and a lump on the right-hand side as well. Now, notice how the graph is thoughtfully divided into four regions, one each for Shadows, Darks, Lights, and Highlights. You can change the definition of those areas if you want to. So right now shadows are the darkest quarter of colors, darks are the next quarter, lights are the quarter after that, and highlights are the brightest quarter.
But if you want to expand or contract these regions, you can. So let's say that I decide to contract my highlight region. Right now, it's the brightest 25% of the colors. I'm going to drag this triangle up to 85 so that I'm limiting the highlights to just the brightest 15% of the colors. Now, I'd also like to go ahead and compress the lights region, so I'm going to drag this slider triangle over to 65, and notice as I do, this dipping area of the graph is moving over to the right as well. Then finally, I want to expand the ahadow region.
That is the area that's affected by my Shadows adjustment, and this is going to brighten up the darkest colors even more by taking this value up to 40, let's say. That re-centers that big lump over here on the left-hand side. Now, my experience with adjusting a tone curve is that as soon as you get done, as soon as you complete your adjustment, you're going to want to go back to the Basic panel and revise your settings in order to fit that parametric adjustment. So in my case, I'm going to go ahead and take the Exposure down to +1, because the image is now a little bit too bright.
It's also a little bit washed out frankly. So we're going to have to solve that problem. I'm going to take the Blacks value down to 1 and that's going to add a whole bunch of brightness to the image, because after all, I'm backing off the black clipping just a little bit. Then I'm going to tab down to the Contrast value. I'll leave Brightness at 80 for now. I'm going to take the Contrast value up to its maximum of 100, because I really want to bring back some of the contrast associated with those boats in the background. In fact, that's still not enough contrast for me.
That's enough to take the boats in the foreground as dark as I'm comfortable with them going. However, if I still want to punch up the contrast in this upper-left region, then I'd probably just go ahead and add a Graduated Filter, which is what I'm going to do. So I'll grab that Graduated Filter tool. I'll drag down, like so, in order to add an adjustment, and these are the settings that I want to apply. So I'd already dialed them in, in advance. Basically, everything is zeroed out. Notice this. I'm not assigning any color.
So if you're seeing color, click the Swatch, switch it to white, click OK. The only value that I'm modifying is the contrast value. So I'm adding an additional layer of contrast here, all the way to +75 for that background detail, and then I could just nudge up this Graduated Filter effect a little bit if I want to protect the foreground boats. Then finally, in order to see what I've done to this image all the way around here, I'm going to press the Z key to switch back to the zoom tool. Then I'm going to click on the Presets icon, so that I can use the Preview check box to preview everything I've done using the parametric curves, using the basic adjustments, and that graduated filter.
So this is the original very dark version of the image, and this is the final effect, which contains much brighter shadow detail, some really robust midtones, and some brilliant highlights. Thanks in large part to the power of the Parametric Curve function inside Camera RAW.
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