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Making a Levels adjustment

From: Enhancing Photos with iPhoto

Video: Making a Levels adjustment

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.

Making a Levels adjustment

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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This video is part of

Image for Enhancing Photos with iPhoto
Enhancing Photos with iPhoto

46 video lessons · 3521 viewers

Richard Harrington
Author

 
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  1. 1m 54s
    1. Welcome
      29s
    2. What you should know before watching this course
      31s
    3. Using the exercise files
      54s
  2. 10m 19s
    1. Working in Full-Screen mode
      1m 26s
    2. Entering Edit mode
      56s
    3. Switching images
      1m 28s
    4. Checking the info on an image
      2m 14s
    5. Zooming in for detail
      2m 14s
    6. Using the navigation window
      53s
    7. Seeing the before and after state
      1m 8s
  3. 12m 6s
    1. Straightening crooked photos
      2m 22s
    2. Rotating an image
      1m 16s
    3. Removing red-eye
      2m 14s
    4. Cropping for better composition
      1m 39s
    5. Cropping a photo to a specific size
      2m 35s
    6. Cropping multiple sizes
      2m 0s
  4. 16m 13s
    1. Understanding the histogram
      3m 13s
    2. Making a Levels adjustment
      2m 15s
    3. Fixing an underexposed photo
      2m 36s
    4. Fixing an overexposed photo
      2m 42s
    5. Improving contrast
      2m 36s
    6. Adjusting shadows and highlights
      2m 51s
  5. 12m 41s
    1. Improve a washed-out photo with saturation
      1m 30s
    2. Increasing saturation while protecting skin tones
      1m 58s
    3. Boosting an image to quickly fix saturation
      1m 51s
    4. White balancing a photo
      2m 24s
    5. Removing a color cast manually
      2m 35s
    6. Stylizing an image with effects
      2m 23s
  6. 14m 28s
    1. Converting to black and white
      2m 21s
    2. Refining a black-and-white effect with temperature
      2m 21s
    3. Creating high-impact black-and-white photos
      3m 5s
    4. Creating sepia-tone effects
      2m 29s
    5. Double-processing for duotone effects
      4m 12s
  7. 13m 45s
    1. Using the Retouch brush
      1m 55s
    2. Removing noise
      2m 10s
    3. Sharpening a soft photo
      1m 52s
    4. Adding punch with definition
      2m 5s
    5. Defocusing a photo
      2m 15s
    6. Controlling the focal point with vignette effects
      1m 26s
    7. Adding borders with iBorderFX
      2m 2s
  8. 8m 27s
    1. Duplicating an image
      47s
    2. Reverting to an original
      1m 49s
    3. Deleting an image
      3m 4s
    4. Copying and pasting adjustments
      44s
    5. Preserving maximum quality when exporting
      2m 3s
  9. 22s
    1. Goodbye
      22s

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