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Photoshop is one of the world’s most powerful image editors, and it can be daunting to try to use skillfully. Photoshop CS4 One-on-One: Advanced, the second part of the popular and comprehensive series, 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 CS4 One-on-One: Fundamentals.
Download Deke's customized keyboard layouts and color settings for Photoshop from the Exercise Files tab.
In this exercise, I'm going to show you how to use the Tone Curves options, which are basically variations on the Curves command that's included along with Photoshop, and these are built into Camera Raw. So I'm going to go ahead and open Cycle pilot.dng and the image is overexposed at this point so let's go ahead and take down the Exposure value. I'm going to take it down to -0.55 and then just for laughs I'm going to take up that Saturation value there to 20. Then I'm going to take the Vibrance value up to about +30. That might be a little high, I think; I'll go ahead and let's take Saturation down to -15, perhaps. All right, that looks pretty good to me.
Now, we still need to give this image some oomph, some weight. It's offly darn light right now and we could adjust the colors selectively so that we have control over the quartertones from the Tone Curve panel. So I'm going to go ahead and Click on Tone Curve right there and you have two independent methods for adjusting the curve. They actually get heaped on top of each other. You can either edit the curve point for point and in that regard, it works pretty much the way it does inside of Photoshop. So, let's say, I'll go ahead and switch the Curve to Linear like so, so we just get rid of the points that are already there. Then if you want to add a point on the curve, you press the Ctrl key or the Command key on the Mac and you Click somewhere inside of the image. Then of course, you can press the Down Arrow key to nudge it down. You can press the Up Arrow key to nudge it up. I'll go ahead and add another point that's in sort of a dark region over here, maybe not quite that dark but something in the shadows, this is good.
So that's a Ctrl+Click or a Command+ Click on the Mac. You're just looking at a composite Tone Curve view. You don't have channel-by-channel control, for the simple reason that you don't really have channels inside of Camera Raw. Again, you're producing the colors on the fly as you're working inside of this plugin. Now what's interesting here is your method for jumping from one point to another is different from the way it is inside of Photoshop CS4, you press Ctrl+Tab. I believe that's Ctrl+Tab on the Mac as well, that is the Ctrl key, and then the Tab key there in order to switch from one point to another.
So that's one way to work, but I'm going to go ahead and just switch this to Linear because I advice against multiple applications of Tone Curve, you don't need a point curve and a parametric curve. I want to show you how the parametric curve works because its behavior is unique to the Camera Raw plugin. Now what you do is you have four levels of control, Highlights, Lights, Darks and Shadows. So those are your quarter tone controls. You're basically dragging up to make the highlights lighter, for example, you're dragging down to make the highlights darker. I'm going to sink the highlights a little, I'm going to take it down to -30 here and that creates a little bit of disparity between the highlights and some of the other luminance levels inside the image.
So I'm going to take the Lights down as well, going to sink them similarly to -30. I'll take the Darks down to -30, I'm just full of -30s here, just a boost to Shadows I'll take them up to something along the lines of +40 and notice how that automatically adjusts the curve on the fly here, that's just the behavior of the curve. So it's as if Camera Raw is going in and putting in its own points and then moving them to the locations that you tell it to. And these guys right there control exactly what are Highlights and Lights and Darks and Shadows, where are the divisions between them. So right now Highlights are in this region, so in other words, there are four controls, there are four quadrants, or four columns. So this area here would be the Shadows, this would be the Darks, this would be the Lights, and this would be the Highlights.
Now if you want to change that, you can, you could say, "Okay the highlights are just going to be the top 10% of the luminance levels," and that's not going to make any difference in terms of what I did because I have got -30, -30, -30, so everybody is exactly the same. So changing the division between Highlights and Lights isn't going to make any difference. If I were to change the division between shadows, I would start to get some different behavior right here between Shadows and the Darks. Notice as I do, see how this line is moving right there quite a bit. We're not seeing a ton a difference, we are over in this area. If you look in this region of the image you can see that I'm considerably lightening the Shadows when I drag the slider triangle over to the right. I'm darkening them. I'm aligning them to sync along with the Darks value here if I drag this division over here to the left.
But in general, I'm not sure that I see that much region to modify the division lines, but you might have some success with that. This guy kind of wonky, it kind of got moved over by the other one when I was dragging things back and forth. This is my correction to this image. I'll go ahead and turn on and off Preview, so this is before and this is after. Now notice, this brings up something I said about the Preview checkbox way at the outset of things, which is that turning on and off only this one panel of settings. So if we were to switch over to the Basic panel, we would see a different effect if we turned off Preview and turn it back on. Because now with it off, we're turning off the Exposure modification and the Saturation modifications down here. So we're ending up with a brighter image that's also much less saturated. Then if I turn this on again, we end up getting more saturated colors and fewer blown highlights as well.
And you know what I'm going to do really quick here, just going to make sure I have a good Exposure value by Alt+ Dragging or Option+Dragging on this Exposure slider triangle and we can see that those buildings, it was the buildings that were bothering me, are very hot in the red channel but otherwise they are okay, they should be in halfway decent shape. So it looks like we're keeping them pretty good and I might just go ahead and up the Brightness value to +60, like so, and tell you what also I'm going to do, I'm going to go ahead and crop this image. I would like the idea of this guy just kind of like floating in space without any contacts whatsoever, so we have no idea where in the world he came from. What he did was he left off of this pedestal and he is going to land on this one.
I don't even understand the art of that kind of bicycle manipulation, I wish I did, I wish I could do it, be so cool. Why did I do this Photoshop thing, I could have been a bicycle dude. So again if you want to see this image cropped, you would switch over to some other tool except for the Crop tool, and then if you wanted to see a before and after, what you did in the Basic panel, you turned off Preview while Basic is up and then turned Preview back on. For Tone Curve, let's go ahead and switch over to Tone Curve, this is what the image looks like, if there were no Tone Curve adjustment, this is what it looks like with the Tone Curve adjustment.
Excellent! We're done. Click on the Done button to celebrate and there is the corrected version of the photograph.
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