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While we've touched on it briefly, I want to take a deeper look at contrast. Remember, contrast is the ratio between the lightest and darkest areas within your photo. In this particular image, I could take the quick technique, and just use the Contrast button here under Effects. And you see, with each click, it's adding a little bit of contrast. The darker areas get darker, the brighter areas get a little brighter. If I jump over to the adjustment tab, I see that the Contrast slider has been put into use. And notice, dragging to the left, versus the right, look at the histogram adjust.
Now, what this is essentially doing is pushing more data towards the ends. Here's at low contrast; you see the histogram is grouped to the middle, and pulling to the right is pushing more details in the brightness and the shadows, so that the whites get brighter, and the blacks get blacker. Now, another way to enhance this is with the Levels slider. So, if you want to force an area that's not black to go dark, you could do it that way, or take areas that are bright, and push them brighter with the white slider.
Let's take a quick look at two more images. Dragging the Contrast slider spreads the details to the histogram out. However, in this case, we're getting way too much clipping. So, I'll take advantage of the Enhance button, which is a fast way to jump-start the image, and you'll notice that the Levels have come in quite a bit. Now following up with a little bit of contrast does the trick. Image looks washed out; we'll do Enhance.
Still a bit, there, so this is where Boost can come into play. A little bit of Contrast, and flip over, and you see that the manual controls have been tweaked. Feel free to refine this, and this is where you have to play with all of these sliders. Notice that there's a relationship here. In this case, I need to lift the shadowy areas, and further recover the highlights. Putting in more Contrast now increases the dramatic range in the image, and that definitely looks better. I'll round that out with some more Saturation, and if we look at the before, and after, that's a very dramatic change in the quality of the image.
Remember, it's never just one slider. All of these come into play, so while we haven't fully explored shadows and highlights yet, don't be surprised if you have to use these in order to get the proper results in combination with Contrast and Exposure.
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