Join Jan Kabili for an in-depth discussion in this video Applying Quick Fix lighting controls, part of Photoshop Elements 8 for Mac Essential Training.
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The Quick Fix panel on the right side of the Quick Fix workspace contains controls for adjusting lighting, and color, and other common problems in photos. The Lighting area of the Quick Fix panel has several different controls that you can use to try to adjust the brightness and the contrast of an image. There's an Auto Levels button and Auto Contrast button and then a set of three sliders that allow you to adjust the Shadows, the Highlights, and the Midtones separately. And these are really three different controls, not all one control to be used together.
Let's take a look at each of those. I'm going to start with the Levels Auto button. There are no sliders to use to adjust levels. There is just this Auto button. I'm going to click that button to see the effect on this image. In this case, I really don't like the effect of the Auto Levels. What's happening here is that Elements is taking the brightest parts of the image in this area here and pushing those to appear white and the darkest parts here and down here and pushing those to appear black. And then it's expanding the Middle tones across the tonal range.
The result of that is an increase in contrast, contrast being the difference between the bright and dark areas of an image. And increased contrast often makes an image look more pleasing, but the problem with doing that using Auto Levels is that Auto Levels can also have an effect on the color in an image. As you see that it did here. It's made everything really saturated and unnatural-looking. So, I'm not going to go with Auto Levels in this case. I'm going to Undo by going up to the Undo button at the top of the screen. So, this is where I started with this really flat image that doesn't have bright whites or dark darks.
Basically, all of the tones in the image are somewhere around in the middle gray point. Now I'm going to see what Auto Contrast does to this image. I'll click the Auto button to the right of Contrast in the Lighting panel and that gives me a little bit better result. The sky doesn't look as blue as it did with Auto Levels and their certainly is more contrast in the image. But I still think that the colors are over saturated. So, I am going to try it to use the Lighten Shadows, Darken Highlights, and Midtone Contrast sliders here, which give me a little bit more control over the results than I can get with either the Auto Contrast or the Auto Levels button.
So undo by going up to the Undo button at the top of the screen. I'm going to come down and try lightening the shadows, dragging the Lighten Shadows button over to the right. And I don't have to very far, maybe I'll leave that at about 6, to dramatically improve the image. I could also try to darken the highlights by dragging that slider over to the right. And then I can adjust the Midtones by taking the Midtone Contrast slider. If I dragged it to the left, I would make the Midtones less contrasty. This is flattening the tones in the image.
I think I would do better to increase the contrast. So the contrast level started about here. I'm going to take Midtone Contrast up, to about there. If I am happy with this result, I'll go to the top of the Lighting panel and I'll click the checkmark. Now, to compare a before and after view I'll go down to the View menu. I will click there and I am going to choose Before & After - Horizontal. So this is where I started with this image and this is where I ended. If I want to compare the entire image, I will go up to the tool bar. I will make sure I have the Zoom tool selected and then I'll click the Fit Screen option in the tool options bar.
So that's how I can use these various lighting controls to improve the lighting, in another words, the contrast and the brightness of an image, using Quick Fix.
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