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Like most tools in Photoshop, Levels does not exist in a vacuum. It doesn't live by itself; rather, if we can combine some of the different skills that we have with Levels, we can come up with some really interesting and powerful results. Well, let's take a look at how we can combine our knowledge of Masking with Levels. Well, here I have a portrait that I captured a couple of weeks ago. I really like this portrait. I like the composition, the layout and everything. Yet, one of things that I want to do is I want to darken up this pedal here, so in order to do that, I am going to use Levels.
Before I began to work with Levels, I am going to create a selection. I am going to create a selection with the Quick Select tool. I'll press the W key in order to choose the Quick Select tool. Then I am going to go ahead and click and drag across this old oar here. I am just going to make my way around this, looking to make a selection of the oar, and go down there, make sure I have all of it. That looks pretty good. Looks like I got some of the fingers, so I need to subtract that. Hold down the Option key on a Mac, or Alt key on a PC, in order to subtract from the selection.
Again, for the most part, I think this will work. We can always sweeten this up, or refine the selection later. I think it's a decent selection. Well, the next thing that I want to do is to click on the Adjustment Layer icon for Levels. This will then add a levels adjustment with a mask. You can see that the mask is showing me the black is going to conceal whatever we do, and white is going to reveal whatever adjustment we make. In this case, white is just going to reveal the oar here. So, if I make an adjustment, either to modify the brightness or the contrast or whatever with this, it's just going to affect the paddle.
What I want to do is add a little bit of contrast and also darken this up a bit. I want that paddle to just appear a little bit differently. So, I am going to try to find the sweet spot with the Adjustment. There we go, just darkening it a touch. Let's take a look at our before and after. Here, we have before, and then we have after. So, as you can see, what we can start to do with our Levels Adjustments is almost burn and dodge right. We can target specific areas. We can then change the overall brightness value of those areas.
We're can change the contrast. For that matter, we can even make color changes with Levels, as well. So, one of things that you want to start doing, in order to deepen and advance your skill with Levels, is you want to start applying Levels to specific areas of your image. This can be to make corrections or in this case, a simple image enhancement. By using Masking with Levels, what this can do is really elevate your work on your images. It can change your work from simply making an adjustment to really getting into the art and craft of digital imaging, because this is where it really starts to become interesting.
This is where it starts to lead us down the path of creating compelling and engaging and intriguing photographs.
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