Join Chris Orwig for an in-depth discussion in this video Using auto curves and adjustments to enhance an image, part of Photoshop CS6 for Photographers.
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Now that we know a little bit about curves, here in this movie, we'll take a look at how we can use curves in order to correct and enhance our photographs. Well, we have seen this picture before, we have worked on this in our chapter on levels, and we applied an Auto Correction to the photograph. We can do the same thing with curves, yet we can take this even further. Well, let's go ahead and click on this icon here in order to open up our Curves Adjustment panel. Let's take a look at some of the options that we have here with this panel. You'll notice that we have this curve line.
We can set points on this line by simply clicking, and then you can drag up in order to brighten that area or drag down in order to darken that area. You can also set multiple points. Go ahead and click on that curve, and here you can see I've added multiple points. This can give you the ability to have precision over controlling one area on the curve. Yet you'll notice that as I move one point, it changes the overall characteristic of this curve. If it ever bends a portion of the curve that you don't want it to bend, like down here, we will just click to add a point, and then you can correct that.
Now here, I have made a really strange adjustment, and I have been doing this just to illustrate how we can work with curves, yet I want to reset the curve. How can we do that? Well, you can either, click and drag points off, or you can click on this Reset icon here. Well, how else can we modify our image? Well, let's say that we want to darken the sweatshirt. You can click on this icon which gives you the ability to simply hover over your image. As I move over my image, notice that this little circle on the curve, well, it changes position.
That's showing me the tone or the value in that area. Well, I can then click and then just drag down to darken or drag up to brighten. Now if I really want to work on the sweater, I could drag down to darken and then for the rest of this curve line, well, I am just going to go ahead and push that back to where it was. So now I have an adjustment which is primarily working on my brighter tones. That doesn't look very good, but it does illustrate how we can target specific areas and how we can make adjustments to those areas.
So let's go ahead and click Reset one more time. Now that we're familiar with how this Curve panel works and how we can click and drag and make adjustments, let's click on the Auto button. What's great about the Auto button is that it actually plots points for us. This auto adjustment, well, it looks similar to the adjustment in levels. Yet here, by having these points plotted on the curve, I can then access them and change them--like this top point, I'll click and drag it over. I can also modify the middle point.
Here, I can soften this overall contrast a bit, or maybe this one here, which deepens the shadows and adds that contrast and color saturation. What Auto did for me was it showed me an S-curve. An S-curve is very common where you have brighter tones here, darker tones here. It's in the shape of a subtle S. The more closely it resembles an S, the higher the contrast, and by using Auto as a starting point, what this can do for us is help us come up with some great options for how we want to process the image.
So let's go ahead and take a look at that again. Here, I'll click the Reset button. Next, we'll click on Auto. As we can see here, this S-curve, it's too much. So I'll click on my bottom point and drag that up just a little bit or if you don't want to drag it, you can always use your arrow keys. Tap the Up Arrow key, you can see it's lifting this point up. Tap the down arrow key, you can see it's bringing that down. Or if you want to, you can just simply click and drag. After we've made this auto adjustment and customized it just a bit for our photograph, we can take a look at the results.
Here, we have that before and now after. It added a nice amount of contrast and color saturation, and the beauty of working with Curves is that it gives you the ability to make precise controls. And now that we have taken a look at how we can modify color and tone in general ways, let's get a little bit more specific. Let's explore how we can change tone and also how we can make subtle, maybe even significant color changes to our photographs, and let's do that in the next movie.
The course details the features and techniques behind enhancing and retouching photos, preparing them for print and online publishing, and much more. Chris demonstrates how to make basic edits in Camera Raw, develop and save color profiles, work with layers and selections, tone and sharpen, and retouch images while retaining their natural character.
Chris also shares some creative tips and project ideas, such as converting a photo to black-and-white and enhancing a portrait with hand-painted masks. The course also covers workflow details, such as organizing images in Bridge and Mini Bridge, optimizing Photoshop preferences, and calibrating your monitor.
- Getting started with Bridge and Mini Bridge
- Setting up color and performance preferences
- Calibrating your monitor
- Improving images with the basic controls in Camera Raw
- Creating, aligning, and organizing layers
- Using masks for removing or blending images and for sharpening
- Working with vibrancy, hue, and saturation controls
- Enhancing color and tone with Levels
- Using Curves and masks to enhance brightness, color, and tone
- Mastering the art of blending modes
- Correcting and replacing color
- Burning and dodging
- Converting to black and white