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One of the most popular adjustments you can make is a Levels adjustment. Essentially, you have three control points. One for the shadows at the left, one for the highlights at the right, and the midpoint controls the general exposure, or balance between lights and darks. With this particular image, you'll notice that it looks pretty good, but if I drag the left slider in, the dark areas get blacker. Notice how the trees are darkening. Now, you don't want to go too far, but a little bit, in this case, restores proper contrast, and in fact, works a lot better than just using the Contrast slider.
Pulling in the white slider here makes the bright areas brighter. Now again, it's very possible to go too far. These images have a lot of latitude, because they're RAW photos. I highly, highly encourage you to shoot RAW on your camera if it's an option. Even if not, JPEG files will still benefit. Dragging the middle slider here affects the balance between the lights and the darks, brightening up the middle tones, or darkening them.
And you see how that becomes very easy to process. Let's take a look at two more quick examples. This here is a JPEG file. Now, if I use the Quick Fixes button, and I click Enhance, you'll see that when we go back to Adjust, that things have been a bit tweaked. The black point moved just a little bit. I could put a little more blackness in there, or contrast. Opening up the middle does do some better exposure. Now, let's go to one more photo and take a look.
I'll click Enhance, and when we go back to the Adjustments panel, you'll see that things move just a little bit. Remember, moving that midtone will brighten up the middle areas of the image, and it's one of the easiest ways to open up the histogram. This is a JPEG file, not a RAW file, so I don't have as much latitude, but I can still make some pretty big adjustments. Holding down the Shift key, I can toggle from the original, to the new state, and you see that we did quite a bit to brighten up the middle tones of that image, and Levels definitely helped.
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