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In this movie, I'll show you how to automatically correct a photographic image using a Levels adjustment. Now as you may recall from our discussion of the auto adjustments back in chapter seven of the fundamentals course, you have three commands available to you under the Image menu : Auto Tone, Auto Contrast, and Auto Color. Don't really think that much of them. Don't use them on a regular basis. But there's also another one, which is the Auto button that's included with Brightness/ Contrast, and it does quite a good job. The Auto function that's included along with levels might be even better and is a unique animal.
Now, you can get to it in a couple of different ways. You can go to the Adjustment sub-menu and choose the Levels command, or you can press Ctrl+L, or Cmd+L on the Mac. But that's going to apply a static color adjustment, you're going to permanently modify the pixels in your image, and you're not going to be able to change your settings later. So, the better way to work is to drop down to the black white icon at the bottom of the Layers panel, click on it, and choose the levels command which is located directly under Brightness/Contrast. And that's going to bring up this wee version of the Properties panel.
I recommend you make it larger, by dragging the lower-left corner of the panel until the histogram reaches its maximum size. Now, the histogram is the central character included along with the Levels function. And as you may once again recall from chapter seven. The histogram is kind of bargraph of all the luminous levels inside the image, starting with black, over here on the far left side and ending with white on the far right side. It doesn't show the distribution of the colors or where they are located inside the image. It strictly shows their popularity.
So, in the case of our image, we have a few blacks and very dark colors Then we've got a whole lot of shadows which are the dark colors inside the image. And then we've got a ton of mid tones which are the middle colors. And finally, we don't have much of anything in the way of highlights. Now, one way to correct the luminance of the image is to click on this Auto button. And what it does is it applies an automatic correction to the composite image, as opposed to correcting the image on a channel by channel basis.
And it can serve as a great jumping off point for your own custom adjustments. So, what I recommend you do is go ahead and give it a click in any case, and notice how much better the luminance of that image looks. Alright. I'm going to go ahead and close the Properties panel. Because just for the sake of comparison, I want you to see how things look if we try the same thing with Brightness/Contrast. So, I'll go ahead and click on the background layer here to make it active. And then I'll right click inside the image window with my Rectangular Marquee tool, and choose Duplicate Layer.
Then I'll set the document to new and click OK, in order to create a new document here. Alright. I'll go ahead and zoom in, and I'll drop down to the bottom of the Layers panel. Click on the black icon and choose Brightness/Contrast this time around. And then once again back in the properties panel, I'll click on the Auto button. And notice that it takes a moment longer to apply. So, it must be a little more computationally intensive. However, it tends to produce a higher contrast effect as well. A little more garish in the case of this image. So, this is Auto Brightness/Contrast, compared with this being Auto Levels.
And just so you can see how it works inside of a different image, I'll go ahead and switch over to this one here. This is the uncorrected version of that portrait shot. Here's what she looks like subject to Auto Brightness/Contrast, and here's how she looks subject to Auto Levels. So, less of a dramatic difference this time around, but again, it's a little more of a nuance modification. Not quite as much contrast as what we got with automatic Brightness/Contrast. Alright. I'm going to switch back to this image for a moment, and I'll double-click on the thumbnail for my Levels adjustment to bring back up the Properties panel.
And I do want you to see just in case you want to know, if you want to get to any of the other auto functions. You can press the Alt key, or the Option key on a Mac, and click on auto, and that'll bring up your other automatic adjustment options. So for example, Enhance Monochromatic Contrast, you can see listed in that tool tip is the same as Auto Contrast, Enhance Per Channel Contrast is the same as Auto Tone. And then we've got Enhanced Dark and Light Colors which is the same as Auto Color. However, every single one of these applies its modifications on a channel by channel basis.
I recommend you steer clear, but I just want you to know they're there. You may find them helpful for some image that you run into one day. Alright, I'm going to go ahead and cancel out. In the next movie, I'll show you how we can customize this adjustment to get even better results.
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