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The Curves adjustment in Adobe Photoshop has a reputation for being challenging for some photographers. In this workshop, Photoshop expert Tim Grey takes you step by step through every aspect of the Curves adjustment, helping you truly understand the concepts behind it so that you can quickly and easily maximize tonal range, optimize contrast, and enhance your photos' color balance. Note: This course was recorded in Photoshop CS5, but was created with users of both Photoshop CS5 and Photoshop CS4 in mind.
Presets and curves are a great way to get started understanding how to use curves, and can give you some great ideas for creative adjustments. Those presets are also a great way for you to preserve an effect you're particularly fond of, so you can apply the same look to multiple images down the road. In this case, I've already added a curves adjustment layer, and I'll go ahead and apply an adjustment that I think will work for a variety of images. Specifically, I'll deepen up the shadows considerably, and maybe normalize the curve just a little bit for the bright, so that we're not darkening up the brightest areas of the image. Then I'll click on the panel pop-up menu at the top right of the adjustments panel and chose Save, Curves, Preset.
I'm happy with the adjustment I've applied. I think it might work for other images so I'd like to save it as a preset that I can use for any image at anytime. When I choose save curves preset, the preset save dialog will appear and all I need to do is enter a name for this preset. I'll call this deep shadows since this adjustment is really focusing a darkening effect on the darkest areas of the image. Then you can click the save button and the preset has been saved and is currently used as the preset for this image.
Of course I could change the preset by choosing a different option from the popup. Note that presets I've saved myself appear in a separate section of the popup menu, that helps to keep my own presets separate from those that were included with Photoshop. I'll go ahead and reset my adjustment here so that you can see just how easy it is to apply that preset. Simply click the pop up and choose a preset and the image is adjusted accordingly. If you want to transfer the preset to a different computer all you need to do is copy the preset file that you saved and then choose load curves preset from the pop up menu on the adjustments panel. That will bring up the load dialog, where you can navigate to the location where the file is saved.
And then choose the appropriate preset file. In this case, of course, I don't need to load the preset, because I already have it on this computer. If at any point down the road you decide that this particular preset is really not working for you, you can choose that preset. And then, from the panel pop-up menu, choose delete current preset. That will delete the current preset after asking for confirmation, so that it no longer appears on the list. You can then continue refining your curve adjustment or choose a different preset if you'd like to.
By saving and loading presets and curves you'll be able to apply great adjustments to multiple images. And of course, once you've applied a preset you can always refine the adjustment for any given image. When things don't work out as you hoped, you can also delete a preset as well.
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