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One of the nicer ways to use the new Adjustments panels inside Photoshop CS4 is to use a special option of some of the adjustments called the Targeted Adjustment tool. So I'm going to click on the Curves adjustment and that creates a Curves adjustment layer here in the Layers panel. My Adjustments panel shows me now the Curves adjustments and what most people do is they start clicking a point on the curve and start adjusting that. Now if you are like me and you think this interface is a little geeky, its charts and graphs, I already know in the image what's wrong with it.
Like this shadow on the left side of her nose is too dark and I want to lighten it. Well that's what this tool is. The tool that gives you the finger, so to speak. I am going to click on that tool and this now lets you click-and-drag in the image itself to start manipulating the tonality or the curve of this image. So if I just click in this dark area and start dragging up to lighten it, you will see the image starts adjusting and if you look over in the Adjustments panel as I drag this, you are seeing that curve is automatically adjusting based on my mouse click and the direction I drag. If I drag up it gets lighter; if I drag down it gets darker. How cool is that?! So I have lightened up the shadows here and you can see her eyes are lightening up as well. But this area has gotten a little bit too hot, too blown out, so I'm going to now with the same tool, it's still selected here, I'm going to click in a bright area and you guessed it, I'm going to drag down to bring down those highlights and you can see the curve now adjusting there.
So this is a much more intuitive way to actually do tonal correction using the new Curves adjustment panel. Just get the tool that gives you the finger and then click in the image itself and drag up or down depending on the area that you are trying to change.
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