Join Ben Long for an in-depth discussion in this video Introducing control points, part of Capture NX 2 Essential Training.
So far, all of the editing tools we've been looking at have been global editing tools, meaning they apply to the entire image. Now, with curves, as we saw, you can target a particular part of your tonal range to try and brighten or darken specific tones. We have seen the LCH controls, which let you alter specific hues in an image. But still, these things have been applied to the entire image. While you may select a specific hue, you will change every occurrence of that hue within the image, not just the bits in a particular geographic location in your image.
Fortunately, Capture NX has some spectacular controls for localized editing. These are really wonderful tools that allow you to perform complex localized edits without having to do a lot of masking and selecting. Let's say I want to work on that flower there. I would like the petals to maybe have a little more contrast, I'd like to see more of the texture in them, and I don't know, I might want to play with the saturation in them. To do that, I'm going to grab a Color Control Point. That's this tool right here. And I'm going to bring in over here, and I'm just going to click on some part of the flower petals that are representative of the color yellow.
If I click there then I get one of these things. Now this is similar to the Black, Neutral, and White Control Points that you saw earlier. What's going on here is this little ball right here, this little circle that looks little bit like a sphere, is sampling the color directly beneath it. And you can see over here in the Adjust section, a Color Control Point has shown up, and it's showing me the color that it has analyzed. Now I have got these three handles out here. B is Brightness, C is Contrast, S is Saturation, and as you can see, there are some other handles down here.
We will get to those in a little bit. And I have got this handle here. This handle let's me define an area of effect. It's always circular and at first, that really confuses people. They think, well, what good is a circular area of select, when what I am going for is this weird flower shape? Don't worry about it. That circle doesn't mean that it's going to make a circular selection. What's happening here is Capture NX is analyzing the color underneath the point that you've clicked on, and within the confines of this circle, it's looking for other pixels of that color, or various shades of that color, and based on that information, it's automatically building a mask that will constrain my edits.
And you may think, yeah, right! But here, let's take a look at it. I'm going to take my Brightness slider here and drag it to the left to darken, and the flower is getting darker. The sky behind it is not, even though the sky is within that area of effect there. I can go the other way. I can brighten it. I had mentioned that I wanted to fiddle with the contrast, so I'm going to up the contrast here. And that's getting a little too bright in some areas, so I am going to lower my Brightness. And I had mentioned also maybe being curious about the Saturation.
I can play with that in one direction or another. That's it. I have cut a very complex mask all around this flower with a single mouse click. Now I can look at the actual mask by going over here and clicking the Show Selection button, and here it is. If you have any experience with masking in Photoshop or other programs that allow you to make selections, then this should make sense to you. White areas are completely open; black areas are completely closed; gray areas are somewhere in the middle.
Think of this black-and-white image that you are looking at right now like a stencil. Black areas of the stencil are opaque; white areas of the stencil are open. That contrast change that we made, think of that as like a can of spray paint, and we are spraying that contrast change through this stencil. But white areas are getting the full contrast change, the black areas are getting none at all, and the gray areas are getting some variation. When we look at this mask, these areas then are getting affected more than these areas over here. Let's go back.
Let's turn the mask off and look. It's hard to tell, because these areas are brightly lit and these are shadowed, so I'm not sure that the masking differential makes any difference. Just to be sure, let's add another control point. Let's put a control point right here, and let's define its area of effect. And let's do what we did over here. What did we do over here? We darkened and we increased contrast and we increased saturation a little bit, so I'm going to darken and I'm going to increase contrast. Ooh, now the contrast is getting me a color shift that I don't think I like, so I am going to back off on that.
I am not sure that we need this second control point, but the point is, if I look at this mask, I see that it looks like that. But that's only the mask for this control point. I would like to also see the mask for this control point, so I have held down the Shift key. Now they're both selected. If I click the Show Selection button, I can see the composite. Capture NX has automatically figured out how to combine these two into a single mask. Again, I have built this very complicated mask with just two clicks. Now if you are still worried about, well, but there are these great bits in there; that means they're not getting the full amount of effect as the white bits. All I would answer to that is yeah, but look at the edit; it looks fine.
Your masks doesn't have to be these perfect white black things. If Capture NX decided that maybe it needs a little bit less mask in one place or another, I would trust it. Bear in mind it's figuring out how to do transition zones along these edges and it's doing it all very well, so well, in fact, that I'm going to ditch that second control point, because I think this looks better. I didn't like that hue shift that was going on in there. Let's darken the sky. I'm going to zoom back out. Let's add another control point, this time in the sky. Click this here, and I'm going to drag this out.
Now, I cannot get this big enough to cover the whole sky, so I'm going to just hit this quadrant right here, and I'm going to lower my brightness to darken the sky. And you may think, well, wow, the entire sky is darkening. Why is that happening? Let's take a look at the selection. Even though, my circle extends to only here, it's still feathering it out the rest of the way. Watch what happens as I close this down. I get a big feather, because it's just making the decision that there's actually a big area of blue here. He probably doesn't want a sharp transition around that circle, so I'll feather it out to the edges, and it's exactly right.
And that's giving me a very natural- looking edit; nevertheless, I would like to have this corner as dark as this corner. So I'm going to duplicate this control point. The couple of ways I can do that. I can click on it to select it and then hit Command+D or Ctrl+D to duplicate it, or I can just hold down Option or Alt on Windows, click and drag out a copy. And I will put that over here. And there's still this bit up here that looks a little weird to me, so let's drop a control point right on top of that and I'm going to shrink it down a little bit, and that's looking pretty good.
I have got my sky much darker. I am not sure if that's the right level of darkness though, so I'm going to select all three of these control points, and again, I am doing that with the Shift key, selecting all three. Now if I drag the slider on any one control point, all three selected control points are changed by the same amount. So now I can really go in and impact the entire sky all at one time. Let's take a look at the mask that it's created. Look at that beautiful mask. If you've ever spent any time trying to work with masking tools in other program, you know how hard it is to get around all this little frilly stuff and just looking at this and thinking, boy, that would have been hard, and I did that in three clicks.
The critical thing to remember is that what a control point operates on depends on the color that you click it on. Let's do a quick little test here. I'm going to drop another control point on here, and this time I'm going to lower the Saturation. So I am completely de-saturating this area. Let's look at the mask that I cut there, okay. Watch what happens though, if I take this control point and drop it over here. My flower comes back, and now I've got this big de-saturated area of the sky. Now let's drop it over here in the green.
Capture NX is constantly recalculating as I move the thing around and de-saturating based on the color that I click on. That's the critical thing to remember there. Don't get too hung up on the fact that this is circular. Yes, you can use this to control the amount of falloff and constrain your edits to a degree, but it's really important that you click in the right place. There is more to control points, and we will be exploring all of the details through the rest of this chapter.
- Exploring the Capture NX2 interface
- Navigating an image library with ViewNX, an alternative browser
- Cropping, straightening, and rotating an image
- Correcting contrast with Levels and Curves
- Boosting and balancing color
- Correcting color with Quick Fix versus Adjust
- Performing localized editing with U Point Control Points
- Making selections with the Selection Brush
- Converting images to black and white
- Colorizing or toning black-and-white images
- Reducing and enlarging images for print
- Adding localized sharpening
- Saving your work
- Soft proofing and printing