The futility of Output Levels

Video: The futility of Output Levels

I've saved my progress as Gamma tweak.psd, found inside the 14_levels_curves folder. And in this exercise, I'm going to explain what's going on with the Output Levels values. Now, if you want the one sentence summary so that you can skip ahead to the next exercise and get on with your life, it's, don't worry about them, they are virtually useless. So I guess that's almost two sentences there, but that really does sum up the Output Levels values. Having said that, let me show you how they work. They sometimes come in handy with Masking, other times you might find them useful when compositing effects on top of each other and applying special Blend modes.

The futility of Output Levels

I've saved my progress as Gamma tweak.psd, found inside the 14_levels_curves folder. And in this exercise, I'm going to explain what's going on with the Output Levels values. Now, if you want the one sentence summary so that you can skip ahead to the next exercise and get on with your life, it's, don't worry about them, they are virtually useless. So I guess that's almost two sentences there, but that really does sum up the Output Levels values. Having said that, let me show you how they work. They sometimes come in handy with Masking, other times you might find them useful when compositing effects on top of each other and applying special Blend modes.

But for standard everyday average corrections, you don't need them. Here's what it does. We've got an Output Level value of 0, which is black and an Output Level of 255, which is white. And what you're doing is you're saying, the black point here, whatever black point value we specified, in this case 0, is going to be mapped to 0. So in other words, black becomes black. And in this case, 194, the white point value, becomes 255, so it becomes white. But let's say you'd rather map black to something much lighter, for example, I'll set the Output Levels value to 90, now I'm saying, whatever was black before, now becomes 90.

Problem is, with this approach you have nothing beyond 90. So 90 becomes your darkest color and after that you've got nothing. So if I bring up the Histogram panel, sure enough, we just eliminated our Shadow detail. And the same thing goes for the white point value here. If I take it down to, let's say, an even value of 200, then I'm mapping 194 to 200, which means that I'm getting rid of a bunch of highlights inside of my image. And we end up with this very dimmed image in the background, extremely low contrast.

So if you wanted to take something that was high contrast and make it low contrast, you could using this technique. But this is no way to take the contrast out of a continuous tone photograph, because you end up with nothing in the way of Shadows or Highlights, not reduced numbers of Shadows or Highlights, you're just wiping them out. Now, where this could become useful, in the old days you could use Output Levels value in order to dim an image. Then you would take it into something like, let's say, PageMaker or QuarkXPress, and use it as a background and run Type over it, very common design technique actually.

However, these days there's better ways to work. You could take the image into InDesign or Illustrator, for example, and reduce its Opacity and get a very similar effect. So for example, if I were to reduce the Opacity of this image inside of InDesign, to something pretty low, let's say 30%, I would get an effect that's analogous to this, which might serve as the perfect background for some body copy. Anyway, in our case, now that you understand how they work, we may see practical applications of Output Levels in future chapters, but for now, go ahead and leave your Output Levels set to 0 and 255 respectively.

In the next exercise, I'm going to show you how to brighten up the shadow under the awning.

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1. Introduction

40m 2s
1. Welcome
2m 1s
2. Making Photoshop your default image editor
7m 43s
3. Installing the dekeKeys keyboard shortcuts
8m 10s
4. Remapping OS shortcuts
7m 37s
5. Installing the Best Workflow color settings
4m 31s
6. The color settings explained
6m 54s
3m 6s
2. 13. What Photoshop Can Do, Pt. 2: The Eyes

1h 5m
1. What you can do with Photoshop
1m 46s
2. The mission-critical eyes
2m 44s
3. Copy Merged and Paste in Place
6m 52s
4. Sharpening details to match
4m 34s
9m 22s
9m 5s
8m 10s
8. Color and highlight effects
4m 2s
5m 43s
10. Fabricating the highlights in the pupils
7m 33s
11. Using a merged copy to sharpen
5m 34s
3. 14. Levels and Curves

2h 14m
1m 16s
2. Introducing the Auto commands
7m 23s
6m 8s
6m 21s
5. How the Auto commands work
5m 22s
6. Auto Tone, Auto Contrast, and Auto Color
7m 7s
7. Blending the Auto results
4m 4s
8. Introducing the Levels command
6m 15s
9. Using Levels as an adjustment layer
3m 12s
6m 8s
11. Understanding the gamma value
7m 39s
12. The futility of Output Levels
2m 56s
5m 48s
3m 40s
15. Previewing clipped pixels
4m 51s
16. The black, white, and gray eyedroppers
5m 7s
17. Gray card tips and tricks
6m 5s
7m 29s
19. Introducing the Curves command
7m 44s
20. Curves dialog box tricks
7m 16s
5m 45s
22. Correcting an image with Curves
5m 32s
23. Filling in the highlights
5m 42s
24. Neutralizing casts and smoothing transitions
5m 37s
4. 15. Sharpening Details

1h 46m
1. The art of enhancing edges
1m 26s
2. How sharpening works
6m 2s
3. The single-shot sharpeners
6m 7s
6m 19s
6m 24s
6. Sharpening colors vs. luminosity
5m 56s
7. Gauging the ideal settings
8m 59s
8. Unsharp Mask vs. Smart Sharpen
7m 1s
9. Using the Remove settings
9m 30s
10. The More Accurate checkbox
6m 8s
11. Saving your Smart Filter settings
5m 31s
7m 52s
13. Accounting for camera shake
6m 18s
14. Sharpening with the Emboss filter
6m 43s
15. Sharpening with High Pass
9m 23s
16. The new and improved Sharpen tool
6m 22s
5. 16. Noise and Texture

1h 34m
1. Edge's evil twin: noise
1m 12s
2. Color vs. luminance noise
7m 21s
3. Reducing color noise
7m 45s
4. Reducing luminance noise
4m 59s
5. Relegating an effect to the shadows
6m 27s
6. Switching between layer and mask
6m 59s
7. The Dust & Scratches filter
4m 56s
5m 52s
9. Combining High Pass with Lens Blur
6m 57s
10. Masking a layer of Lens Blur
7m 34s
11. Painting away High Pass sharpening
8m 22s
12. Building up a noise pattern
6m 40s
13. Converting noise to texture
4m 24s
14. Bleeding colors into paper
6m 16s
15. Matching different noise levels
8m 31s
6. 17. Shadows, Highlights, and Contours

1h 32m
1. We are the stuff of light
1m 24s
2. Applying automatic lens correction
5m 53s
3m 44s
7m 59s
5. Creating a "bounce" with Gaussian Blur
4m 43s
6. Sharpening on top of blur
7m 3s
7. Sharpening the merged composition
6m 16s
5m 40s
7m 14s
5m 47s
6m 23s
6m 21s
13. Smoothing skin details with Gaussian Blur
3m 56s
14. Smoothing with High Pass
5m 44s
15. Lowering contrast with Gaussian Blur
7m 4s
16. Inverting a sharpening effect
7m 5s
7. 18. Black & White and Colorize

2h 32m
1. Color becomes monochrome
1m 31s
2. Converting an image to grayscale
6m 49s
3. Extracting luminance information
7m 37s
4. Introducing the Channel Mixer
10m 23s
5. Aggressive channel mixing
9m 42s
6. Proofing CMYK colors
7m 49s
7. Color settings and intent
7m 6s
8. Practical Channel Mixer variations
4m 30s
9. Saving variations as layer comps
7m 57s
10. The default grayscale recipe
8m 55s
11. Creating a custom black-and-white mix
6m 59s
12. Shadows/Highlights in black and white
4m 58s
13. Introducing the Black & White command
5m 55s
14. Adjusting Black & White settings
9m 39s
15. Mixing a Black & White portrait
6m 32s
16. Black & White vs. Channel Mixer
9m 21s
8m 0s
7m 10s
4m 32s
9m 58s
21. Colorizing with blend modes and Opacity
7m 13s
8. 19. Color Range and Refine Edge

2h 10m
1. Two great commands working great together
1m 18s
2. Introducing the Color Range command
5m 13s
3. Setting key colors and Fuzziness
5m 38s
4. Predefined vs. sampled colors
3m 57s
5. The Localized Color Clusters option
5m 41s
6. Defining a selection with care
4m 44s
7. Introducing the Quick Mask mode
5m 20s
8. Testing edges with the Magic Wand
5m 14s
9. Hand-brushing a selection
5m 39s
4m 35s
11. Converting a selection to a layer mask
2m 46s
12. Switching between an image and a layer mask
6m 58s
13. Protecting elements with a layer mask
8m 5s
14. Duplicating and editing a layer mask
7m 34s
15. Introducing the Refine Edge command
4m 46s
16. Accessing the various Refine Edge options
5m 35s
17. Refine Edge's preview options
6m 21s
4m 11s
19. Edge Detection and Smart Radius
6m 5s
20. Using the Refine Radius tool
8m 8s
21. Using the Decontaminate Colors option
7m 30s
7m 7s
8m 33s
9. 20. Text and Shape Layers

3h 13m
1. Photoshop's vector exceptions
1m 11s
2. Making text in Photoshop
6m 18s
3. Creating and editing a text layer
6m 56s
4. Font and type style
7m 35s
5. Type size and color
7m 52s
6. Combining layer effects and type
10m 57s
7. Drawing a custom shape layer
8m 34s
8. Side bearing, kerning, and tracking
10m 36s
9. Point text vs. area text
8m 26s
10. Selecting and formatting a paragraph
5m 19s
11. Copying and pasting unformatted text
7m 45s
12. Creating text inside a custom path
6m 26s
13. Creating text along a path
8m 13s
6m 16s
7m 29s
5m 32s
17. Logo creation and Fill Opacity
7m 44s
18. Stretching a background element
6m 9s
19. Drawing with shape outlines
6m 18s
20. Combining vector-based shapes
6m 42s
6m 7s
22. Correcting spacing problems
7m 44s
23. Drawing the ultimate specular sparkle
8m 45s
24. Preparing text for commercial output
5m 9s
25. Saving a high-resolution PDF file
7m 11s
26. Inspecting the final PDF document
7m 8s
27. Saving large poster art
9m 32s
10. 21. Layer Effects and Styles

2h 36m
1. What filters ought to be
1m 25s
2. Layer effects vs. filters
6m 14s
3. Carving with an Inner Shadow effect
7m 45s
4. Selling an effect with Drop Shadow
7m 17s
5m 30s
6. Saving custom default settings
6m 22s
7. Creating a custom contour
7m 3s
8. Introducing Bevel and Emboss
7m 35s
7m 8s
10. Exploiting global light
8m 11s
11. Gloss and edge contour
5m 8s
12. Applying and creating layer styles
6m 45s
6m 17s
14. Creating a textured bevel effect
6m 56s
7m 39s
16. Combining filters and effects
6m 58s
17. Working with random effects
6m 55s
18. Smoothing with Gaussian Blur and Levels
6m 13s
4m 37s
20. Applying liquid styles
4m 36s
21. Simulating liquid reflections
8m 12s
22. Finessing and cropping a liquid effect
7m 25s
23. Initiating a displacement map
6m 17s
24. Applying a displacement map
7m 37s
11. 22. Transform, Distort, and Warp

1h 12m
1. Two words: Free Transform
34s
2. Scale, rotate, and constrain
6m 30s
3. Using the transformation origin
7m 42s
4. Applying a slant (aka skew)
3m 37s
5. The four-point "perspective" distortion
7m 51s
6. Two ways to make gradient text
5m 59s
7. Building complexity from a simple shape
4m 42s
8. Duplicating a series of transformations
6m 3s
9. Rasterizing a layer with its effects
6m 41s
10. Applying a custom warp
7m 24s
11. Blending and softening a warped layer
4m 39s
12. Creating spherical highlights
6m 30s
13. Using a center-source inner glow
3m 51s
12. 23. Puppet Warp and Liquify

2h 42m
1. Distorting reality
1m 33s
2. Extracting a foreground element
6m 45s
3. Introducing the Puppet Warp command
7m 20s
4. Setting and manipulating pins
7m 48s
5. Rotating pins and switching warp modes
6m 41s
6. Expanding and contracting the mesh
6m 11s
7. Changing the Density setting
8m 0s
5m 18s
9. Winding an image into a pretzel
6m 2s
10. Applying Puppet Warp to type
6m 30s
11. Warping single characters
6m 25s
12. Editing puppet-warped text
8m 24s
13. Extending an image with Free Transform
8m 46s
14. Extracting from a white background
10m 5s
15. Tracing a shape with Puppet Warp
9m 1s
16. Introducing the Liquify command
5m 4s
17. Warp, Twirl, Pucker, and Bloat
8m 53s
5m 59s
19. Push, Mirror, and Turbulence
11m 49s
20. Lifting and slimming details
8m 22s
21. Warping fabric, arms, and legs
7m 1s
22. Masking and finessing the results
10m 8s

3h 3m
1. Welcome to the digital darkroom
1m 44s
2. Introducing Camera Raw
7m 40s
7m 0s
4. Selecting and synchronizing images
6m 9s
5. Making automatic adjustments and saving changes
7m 19s
6. Creating and managing snapshots
8m 23s
6m 24s
8. Working with clipping warnings
5m 5s
7m 35s
10. Vibrance, Saturation, and Clarity
9m 25s
11. Recovery and Fill Light
6m 57s
12. Using the Graduated Filter tool
7m 2s
13. Painting edits with the Adjustment Brush
9m 44s
14. Straighten, crop, and geometric distortions
7m 49s
15. Applying manual lens corrections
7m 19s
16. Vignette and chromatic aberrations
6m 21s
17. Introducing the Tone Curves
6m 9s
18. Parametric curves and targeted adjustments
6m 26s
19. Correcting a low-noise photograph
7m 35s
20. Sharpening and high-noise photos
8m 25s
5m 34s
5m 39s
23. Adding grain and vignetting effects
5m 23s
24. Mixing a subjective black-and-white image
7m 53s
25. Colorizing with the Split Toning options
4m 29s
26. Opening a raw image as a Smart Object
5m 39s
27. Camera Raw wrap-up
8m 38s
14. Conclusion

55s
1. Until next time
55s

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