Friday, July 20, 2007
Must-Know Image Enhancements
How to change, improve and rescue exposures
(Image > Adjustments > Curves)
Most professional photographers use Curves more than Levels. Although Curves offers more control over the color, contrast and brightness range of the scene, it basically gets you to the same place as Levels. I use Curves to make a picture darker or lighter, while maintaining good contrast, something that isn't possible with the Brightness control in Brightness/Contrast because increasing or decreasing the Brightness tends to make a picture look flat. For this picture of a frigate bird and her chick, I simply pulled down the diagonal curve line from the center point toward the bottom right-hand corner, which is my basic technique for darkening an image. If I wanted to make the picture lighter, I would have pulled the curve line from the center point up toward the top-left corner.
(Image > Adjustments > Shadow/Highlight)
The Shadow/Highlight adjustment lets you individually control the shadow and highlight areas of a picture by moving the appropriate sliders. When it was introduced in Photoshop, I thought it was just an okay feature. After using it on some pictures that contained noticeable shadow and highlight areas, however, I became a convert. In fact, I find it the preferred enhancement when I quickly and easily want to see into the shadows and tone down the highlights in a picture, as was the case in this picture of a trio of marine iguanas.
(Image > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation)
Back in the 1990s when Kodak and Fujifilm introduced saturated slide film, photographers jumped at the opportunity to use them to get pictures that popped with vibrant colors. In Photoshop, you can simulate the effect of using saturated slide film by moving the Saturation slider to the right in the Hue/Saturation dialog box. Of course, you can desaturate an image (which will give you an image with little or no color) by moving the slider to the left. The blue-footed booby is a favorite animal in the Galápagos. To draw attention to the bird's blue feet, I boosted the saturation slightly.
Page 2 of 3