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Understanding the basics of levels

From: Photo Restoration with Photoshop

Video: Understanding the basics of levels

Levels is one of those adjustments you'll probably use quite often in digital photo restoration. Levels adjusts three basic areas of an image: the black, white, and midtone points. Let's go to the add a new fill or adjustment layer icon at the bottom of the Layers panel and select Levels. Now we'll have a quick look at the Levels dialog box. At the top of the Levels panel we see our presets. These may be one of the most underused features of the Levels dialog, but you might want to go through them just to see if there's a preset that might work, even as just a starting point.

Understanding the basics of levels

Levels is one of those adjustments you'll probably use quite often in digital photo restoration. Levels adjusts three basic areas of an image: the black, white, and midtone points. Let's go to the add a new fill or adjustment layer icon at the bottom of the Layers panel and select Levels. Now we'll have a quick look at the Levels dialog box. At the top of the Levels panel we see our presets. These may be one of the most underused features of the Levels dialog, but you might want to go through them just to see if there's a preset that might work, even as just a starting point.

On the PC, you can click on one and scroll through them with your up and down arrows; on the Mac you will need to click each one to select. I'll put the Preset back to default and move right below the presets to another dropdown, this one for the individual color channels. This ability to adjust by channels is another great reason to scan a photo, even a black-and-white photo, in color. When you select an individual channel, you can adjust it either with the eyedroppers over here or by adjusting the sliders down here.

You want all your sliders to be inside this informational area of the histogram. Let's select the Red channel, and you will see the histogram information is over on this end. So you bring your slider over to this informational area of the histogram, and you continue to do that with each individual channel. We'll go back to the combined channel now, and we'll move over to our eyedroppers. With the eyedroppers, you select the corresponding tones in the image itself. With the black eyedropper, you select the darkest tone of the image and the lightest with the white eyedropper.

The gray eyedropper is for the neutral tones in the image. The histogram shows the area in your image where the tonal information is. It goes from the blackest point on the left, set at zero, to the whitest point on the right, which is the numeric value of 255. The mid point value is set at 1.00. They all adjust the tonal quality, or the brightness, of the image. The Output Levels slider here adjusts the luminance of an image. Sliding the black arrow all the way to the right will result in pure white, and the white slider all the way to the left in pure black.

You can combine any and all of the settings, adjusting and readjusting to get the best result. If you don't like what you've done, or you want to start over again, CS4 and CS5 has a Reset button right down here at the bottom. In previous versions you can hold down your Alt or Option key to change your Cancel button into a Reset button. Levels is one of the easiest adjustments to use and one that can have some pretty dramatic results. If you need to adjust tones or bring contrast into an image, give Levels a try.

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This video is part of

Image for Photo Restoration with Photoshop
Photo Restoration with Photoshop

70 video lessons · 15471 viewers

Janine Smith
Author

 
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  1. 1m 33s
    1. Welcome
      48s
    2. What you should know before watching this course
      13s
    3. Using the exercise files
      32s
  2. 16m 47s
    1. Customizing your workspace
      2m 17s
    2. Using layers
      1m 58s
    3. Assessing the damage
      1m 52s
    4. Rebuilding color channels in a grayscale image
      3m 47s
    5. Using a Black & White adjustment layer
      1m 57s
    6. Using the Clone Stamp, Healing Brush, and Patch tools
      4m 56s
  3. 27m 30s
    1. Fixing a faded black-and-white photo
      2m 20s
    2. Removing small splits, specks, and spots
      3m 44s
    3. Repairing red-eye
      4m 58s
    4. Reducing paper texture
      4m 34s
    5. Reducing dot patterns in printed photos
      3m 51s
    6. Fixing lens distortion
      4m 19s
    7. Straightening a crooked image
      3m 44s
  4. 24m 16s
    1. Fixing large rips, tears, and other damage
      3m 9s
    2. Removing long scratches
      3m 24s
    3. Fixing creases
      5m 8s
    4. Stitching large photos using Photomerge
      3m 17s
    5. Reassembling torn photos
      4m 56s
    6. Replacing missing pieces
      4m 22s
  5. 27m 55s
    1. Removing stains
      3m 48s
    2. Removing ink marks
      2m 34s
    3. Repairing adhesive tape damage on a black-and-white photo
      2m 14s
    4. Repairing adhesive tape damage on a color photo
      6m 1s
    5. Fixing mold damage
      5m 20s
    6. Reducing starburst light glare
      5m 11s
    7. Reducing eyeglass light glare
      2m 47s
  6. 21m 32s
    1. Understanding the basics of levels
      2m 50s
    2. Understanding the basics of curves
      3m 29s
    3. Finding the black, white, and gray points in an image
      3m 28s
    4. Adjusting color levels by channel
      1m 58s
    5. Making selective contrast adjustments
      4m 48s
    6. Adjusting image shadows and highlights
      4m 59s
  7. 18m 13s
    1. Adjusting color with the Photo Filter adjustment
      2m 23s
    2. Correcting color casts using inverse color correction
      3m 2s
    3. Correcting color problems using the Color Balance adjustment
      3m 19s
    4. Correcting color casts using the Variations command
      3m 55s
    5. Correcting color by combining levels and curves
      1m 44s
    6. Improving color by adjusting the hue and saturation
      3m 50s
  8. 33m 14s
    1. Removing distracting elements
      5m 35s
    2. Repairing and recreating backgrounds
      7m 43s
    3. Extracting areas using masks
      5m 5s
    4. Matching colors in elements you add
      4m 11s
    5. Matching textures
      4m 45s
    6. Replacing facial features and missing body parts
      5m 55s
  9. 29m 59s
    1. Converting to black and white
      4m 48s
    2. Enhancing faded color
      3m 30s
    3. Smoothing a subject's skin
      4m 2s
    4. Enhancing black-and-white photos with duotone
      2m 34s
    5. Enhancing the eyes
      4m 10s
    6. Bringing out facial features with light
      5m 22s
    7. Sharpening
      5m 33s
  10. 32m 32s
    1. Assessing the damage
      1m 26s
    2. Repairing the crack
      1m 52s
    3. Replacing the missing body parts
      3m 5s
    4. Removing the specks, spots, and scratches
      3m 7s
    5. Fixing the missing corner
      1m 14s
    6. Lightening the stains
      5m 22s
    7. Restoring the faded tone in the face
      3m 8s
    8. Balancing the tone in the image
      1m 58s
    9. Evening the color with a Black & White adjustment layer
      49s
    10. Cleaning up the image
      2m 24s
    11. Adding definition to the face
      2m 20s
    12. Softening the image
      58s
    13. Sharpening the image
      2m 4s
    14. Bringing back some of the original tone
      1m 34s
    15. Comparing the image before and after
      1m 11s
  11. 24s
    1. Final thoughts
      24s

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