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Photoshop CS5 for Photographers provides comprehensive Photoshop training targeting the needs of photographers. In this course, author Chris Orwig demonstrates the fundamental skills used to enhance digital photos, including managing and correcting color, sharpening, making selections and adjustments, retouching, and printing from Photoshop. In addition to teaching the techniques that enable photographers to refine and publish their photos, the course includes live-action segments that encourage thinking photographically and shooting with Photoshop’s capabilities in mind. Exercise files are included with the course.
Here we're going to take a look at how we can start to work with Levels, and not only increase our contrast or work on the tones of the image, and not only saturate the colors, but also perhaps add some subjective color edits. So let's go ahead and start off on this photo here. It's titled rancher.tif. It was a portrait that I captured down in Mainland, Mexico. I'll click on that. Press the F key to go to Full Screen View mode, and then I'll zoom in a little bit by pressing Command +Plus on a Mac, or Ctrl+Plus on a PC. All right.
Well, what I want to do here is go ahead and navigate over to the Adjustments panel, and I'll click on the Levels icon, or I'll click on the Adjustment layer icon and choose Levels. Either way, this will create a Levels adjustment layer. Now, here we can see that the main problem with our Histogram is we have lots of good information, the highlights, the midtones. We don't have any blacks here, though. So, hold down the Option key on a Mac, Alt key on a PC. Click and drag that slider. We know how this works now, right? And then we'll see where we have a little bit of clipping.
Go ahead and let go of the Option or the Alt key, and then we have a really nice adjustment. Here's our before and then our after. This is done what we've seen before, it increase this contrast and also color saturation. But let's say that I want to take this further. I want to make some subjective color edits. In other words, what I want to do is maybe warm this image up, add a little bit of red and yellow to it. What you can do is with Levels you can navigate down to your different channels. We have Red, Green, and Blue.
And in each channel, it actually contains different information. Red is red and cyan, Green is green and magenta, and Blue is blue and yellow. Now, this may be a little bit confusing at first, but stick with me for a second, and let's see how this works. If we go down to our Green Magenta channel, what I can do then is I can modify the overall tone here. If I click and drag to the right, it becomes magenta. Click and drag to the left; it become green. Well, what I want to do is I want to add a little bit of magenta here.
And I'm going to do that because I'm going to add a little bit of yellow as well. Whenever I add yellow, I need to compensate with magenta. So again, a little bit confusing, but let's just say, for starters, Green midtone slider little bit to the right. Then we'll go to our Blue Yellow channel here, and we'll grab this midtone slider, and this one will take a little bit to the right as well. And there you can see we now have these deep kind of rich yellows and magentas or reds in the photograph, and it really makes the image interesting.
Now, we need to be careful that we don't go too far with this, right? That looks strange. We want to find the sweet spot. And sometimes just modifying this just a touch can really help out. Again, I'm going to go back to that Green control here. I'm going to bring that down just a little bit, but I have a little bit of the warmer image now. So my overall photograph has been improved with contrast, with color saturation, and then I've also swung, or modified, the overall color of the photograph as well.
Let's take a look at the before and after. Here we have before and then after, a much, much stronger photograph now. Let's take a look at a different context, a different photograph. Well, the other image that I have open, I can access by way of a shortcut. It's Ctrl+Tab. That opens up this photograph. Let's zoom in on it by pressing Command+Plus on a Mac, or Ctrl+Plus on a PC. Here, we'll click on the Adjustment Layer icon for Levels. We'll go ahead and click and drag our sliders to add our whites and our blacks, so those look good.
And I'll brighten up the image a little bit. Here's our before and after. Before and then after. Love it! Already looking better. Well, from here what I can do is actually go into the different channels as we've seen before, and I can make some subjective edits in order to change the way this image is going to be displayed. I'm just going to have a little bit of fun with this and swing this one way and another, and just look to see how I can modify how this image is appearing. In this case, it's very green, or I could go back and add a little bit more Blue into the mix, and I could continually go through these controls in order to change the way this image is being displayed.
In this case, a little bit more cool tone. Let's look at our before and after. Here we have before and then after. And one of the reasons that I want to work on this image is to simply illustrate that sometimes you may be making some adjustments which are kind of logical, like warming an image up a portrait. Other times, it may simply be for creative purposes. Let's say you want to display an image a little bit differently. Well, again you can go into these different controls, and you can find a sweet spot for your photograph that simply improves, or changes, the overall color or the look of the image, and here we have yet another interpretation of the color in this photograph.
Well, let's look at the before and after. Here we have before and then after, and we're able to accomplish this subjective color change simply by using those different channels inside of our Levels Adjustment layer.
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