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- Configuring the Photoshop interface
- Opening an existing image
- Basic RAW conversion
- Introduction to adjustment layers
- Reviewing adjustments
- Saving the master image
- Basic, advanced, and creative adjustments
Skill Level Beginner
One of the advantages of working with adjustment layers for all of your adjustments in Photoshop is that at any time you can go back and review or modify those adjustments. Let's take a look at several of the ways that we can work with our adjustment layers as we continue fine-tuning our photographic images. You'll see in this case I have a background image layer. That's the actual photographic pixels. And I also have a black and white adjustment and a curves adjustment. In both cases if I click on the adjustment I can go back to my properties panel and see the adjustment I applied, and of course make changes to those settings if I'd like. I'll go back to the curves adjustment for example and maybe I'll darken down those highlights just a bit from where they were.
If I like to see the image before the adjustment, versus, after the adjustment in order to better evaluate the effect of the adjustment. I can click the eye icon to the left of the adjustment layer on the layers panel. I'll go ahead and click the eye for the curves adjustment, for example, and you can see what the image looked like before that curves adjustment was added. I'll click one more time and you can see what the image looks like after or with the adjustment applied. We can also use a button at the bottom of the properties panel to accomplish the exact same thing, and you'll see an eye icon there as well, at the bottom of the properties panel.
I can click to turn the adjustment off, or click again to turn the adjustment on. If at any time I decide I am not happy with one of my adjustments, for example maybe I've decided I wanted to keep this image in color. Rather than converting it to black and white. Besides being able to modify the adjustment, I can actually remove the adjustment alltogether. Now if you're not sure whether or not you want to remove the adjustment, you can simply turn that adjustment off and leave it off for as long as you'd like. Though, if you decide that you do, indeed, want to remove that adjustment, you can click and drag it to the Trashcan button at the bottom of the Layers panel. Or, simply click on the Adjustment Layer and then click on the Trashcan button. Or, you can also click the exact same button, that Trashcan button, at the bottom of the Properties panel.
I'll go ahead and click that button. And you can see we get a confirmation dialog. I'll go ahead and click Yes, to delete that adjustment. And now my black and white adjustment is no more. I'll go ahead and click on my curves adjustment and we can also revert our adjustment to its original state. So in this case that would completely reset the adjustment. Effectively that would make it as though the adjustment had never been added. So you can think of resetting an adjustment as being the same thing as throwing an adjustment layer away, and then adding a new adjustment of the same type.
At the bottom of the properties channel, you'll see that we have a reset button, this curved arrow. If I click that button, you'll see that the adjustment is now set back to its original default value. We can also reset an adjustment in a couple of steps. Now this can be a little bit confusing based on the way this function works. Allow me to illustrate it for you. If I increase the contrast, I'm going to create a dramatic increase in contrast for the image, just so that we can see a very obvious version of the image. And we'll call that our original adjustment, for example. I'll then click on the background image layer, just so that the curves adjustment is no longer active.
By doing so I've now told Photoshop that I'm finished with that initial adjustment. So again, this high contrast adjustment we'll call our initial adjustment and I've demonstrated to Photoshop that I think I'm finished with that adjustment by clicking on a different layer. It could be any layer at all on the Layers panel other than the curves adjustment that we're trying to work with. I'll go ahead and go back to that curves adjustment then. And now I'm going to create a ridiculously bright version of the image. Again, just so that we can see a very obvious difference. So now I've defined two adjustments effectively.
I have my very high contrast version of the curves adjustment, and I have this very bright version of the curves adjustment. If I'd like to take a step backward, back to that state where I clicked on a different layer I can preview the effect by clicking on this eye with an arrow icon. If I click and hold, you'll see that we are stepping back to the high contrast version, not to the original version of the image with no adjustments, but to the high contrast version. So now, if I click my reset button, I will not be reverting the adjustment all the way back to its original state but rather taking it back to that previous state, that high contrast version.
If I click again, that will indeed reset the control. So by moving away from an Adjustment Layer and coming back to it, that allows us to define a couple of states for that adjustment. So if, for example, you think you're happy with the result of your adjustment, but you want to experiment around a little bit. You can simply click on a different layer and then click on your adjustment layer, and that way you'll always be able to get back to that state as long as your image remains open. And keep in mind that just like history these states that you can step back through will be lost if you close the image.
You'll always be able to revert the adjustment, but you won't be able to necessarily be able to take a step backward, unless the image remains open. So that gives you a sense of how you can review and modify your adjustments to help maximize your flexibility as you're optimizing your images.