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FORUMS Post Processing, Marketing & Presenting Photos RAW, Post Processing & Printing 
Thread started 08 Jun 2004 (Tuesday) 17:51
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Post Processing #1 - Very Basic Contrast Tutorial

 
Scottes
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Jun 08, 2004 17:51 |  #1

So this is the picture I shot in one of my attempts to take a landscape.

IMAGE: http://www.itsanadventure.com/postimages/5337_original.jpg

Yuch. Looks pretty washed out, and it isn't very straight.


The very first thing I'm going to do is switch to 16-bit mode by clicking on Image... Mode... 16-bits/Channel. Because I'm go to be mucking with colors and stretching them, squishing them, and otherwise distorting them I want as many variations of colors as possible.

Then I'm going to set this to Adobe RGB color space if it's not already there. Again, pretty much the same reason as above - more colors. Adobe RGB is a larger color space then sRGB - that is, it actually has more colors available to use. (It's a very long story so trust me for now.) Choose Image... Mode... Convert To Profile and choose Adobe RGB (1998) as the Destination Space. If the Source Space is already Adobe RGB then click Cancel, otherwise click on OK.


Next I'm going to tackle the washed out look by adjusting the Levels to get some contrast in there. Image... Adjustments... Levels and here is the histogram.

IMAGE: http://www.itsanadventure.com/postimages/5337_prelevels.gif

One of the ideas behind using Levels is to utilize the entire range of colors from pure black to pure white. This histogram shows that my image is only using about 2/3 of the range, all in the middle. I'm going to stretch out the colors to use as much range as possible - well, as much as necessary to make the image look good.


The first thing I'm going to do is grab that bottom left slider - the black one - and drag it over to where the blacks seem to start, right at the beginning of the hump. By doing this I'm telling Photoshop to make my blacks start at the point above the slider - or in other words, make this point pure black. Anything blacker (to the left) will be made black, too, but there's not much black in that range so it won't make much difference.

Then I'll grab the right slider - the white one - and drag it over to the left, again to the beginning of the hump. Same idea - make this pure white as well as anything brighter.

Here's the histogram:
IMAGE: http://www.itsanadventure.com/postimages/5337_midlevels.gif

And the resulting image:
IMAGE: http://www.itsanadventure.com/postimages/5337_midlevels.jpg

But I didn't like that, because it really increased the glare at the top of the gazebo, and I lost detail. If you look at the histogram above you'll see that there *are* some whites all the way to the right edge - very few, indicated by the very thin black line, but they are there.

Here's the detail I lost (original on the left):
IMAGE: http://www.itsanadventure.com/postimages/5337_details.jpg

To get the details back I'm going to move the right slider back all the way to the right.

Come to think of it, I lost some blacks in the same way when I compressed them by moving the left slider. But with blacks it doesn't seem so noticeable. Losing the whites by compressing them did noticable damage, so I want those details back. The blacks I destroyed just became more shadows, and the eye doesn't seem to notice that. (Well, in *this* picture it didn't. Sometimes it's the other way around.)


Now the image doesn't look quite right. It's a little dark. I'm going to move the middle slider - the midtones - around until it looks good to my eye. Moving it to the left will make the image brighter, and to the right makes it darker.

This step is totally subjective - play with the middle slider until it looks good.

This is what I eneded up with:
IMAGE: http://www.itsanadventure.com/postimages/5337_levels.jpg

And this is the histogram:
IMAGE: http://www.itsanadventure.com/postimages/5337_postlevels.gif


And that's it. The picture doesn't looked washed out any more, and we're using almost the entire range of color. What's important is that it looks good to me.

OK, the *colors* look good to me. :)

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Mills
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Jun 08, 2004 22:22 |  #2

Thanks. Like I have said, I always seem to learn when I stop by this forum.


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tommykjensen
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Jun 08, 2004 22:54 |  #3

Thanks, a lot of reading I have to do when I get back from work.


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FJC
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Jun 09, 2004 05:17 |  #4

Excellent tutorial - it is so much easier to grasp with the various pictures and screenshots.

I just managed to learn this in the past couple of weeks by reading a ton of other sources. I should have just waited and read this, and saved myself a few days. :) Now I find that the Levels command is easier to use than the other brightness/contrast controls.

Quick hint - CTRL-L brings up the Level's applet quickly. :)




  
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Jesper
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Jun 09, 2004 06:42 |  #5

Another hint: Hold down the ALT key (don't know the equivalent on a Mac...) when you drag the left or right sliders in the Levels dialog. The image will turn black (or white) and while you drag, you'll get to see which pixels will be clipped to black (or white).


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Scottes
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Jun 09, 2004 06:55 |  #6

Jesper wrote:
Another hint: Hold down the ALT key (don't know the equivalent on a Mac...) when you drag the left or right sliders in the Levels dialog. The image will turn black (or white) and while you drag, you'll get to see which pixels will be clipped to black (or white).

Hey, THAT is sweet!

I did this while adjusting the blacks and saw that only scattered pixels would be clipped. This explains why clipping the blacks isn't so noticable in this image.

But when adjusting the whites I saw that a couple of areas would be clipped - notably the gazebo roof and the stone path to the left. Given that so many clipped pixels were clumped together it's easy to see that I would be losing detail in those areas.

Nice tip. Thanks Jesper!


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FJC
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Jun 09, 2004 09:15 |  #7

OH, now that tip rocks! Thanks much!




  
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IanD
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Jun 09, 2004 16:56 |  #8

Thanks for the time and effort to post this Scott. I'm sure a lot of folks are going to be reading the entire series, starting with me first.


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RCJ
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Aug 17, 2004 07:14 |  #9

[QUOTE="Jesper"]Anothe​r hint: Hold down the ALT key (don't know the equivalent on a Mac...)

That would be the alt/option key on a mac.




  
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Jmurman
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Aug 17, 2004 08:27 |  #10

Hey Thanks! Great job!




  
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BDM
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Aug 17, 2004 09:37 |  #11

That was a very interesting post. I'm relatively new to Photoshop and I have a lot to learn. So far I have learned a few things not to do. At some point I must begin to learn what to do.

I believe you performed a great service to those of us who are just getting our feet wet. Perhaps you could write additional ilustrations from time to time.

Bruce




  
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Scottes
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Aug 17, 2004 11:41 |  #12

Thanks Bruce. And I'm glad you enjoyed it. Note that we have several tutorials in the top "sticky" post in this forum.

As to writing more... I wish that I had time. With summer here, busy weekends are constant, and I barely have time to edit pics and spend a few hours a week on my website (due out in June of 2008 at this rate).

I've been thinking about writing smaller, "quick tip" tutorials, though... Maybe...


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RinkRat
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Aug 17, 2004 20:24 |  #13

Thanks Scottes!

Very cool!

Forget the website. When is the book of tips coming out?? :)


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tofuboy
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Aug 21, 2004 00:51 |  #14

I'm just starting to learn PS, had it for years but after discovering how great it is to shoot in RAW decided it's time I learn some useful techniques. I spent some time flipping through some PS for photography books at the bookstore and found a few useful hints, including this one. You can accomplish similar effects using curves... perhaps we can get a tutorial on them soon ^^;;

Anyways, one thing to add to this one. You can modify the image by using 'Adjustment Layers'. This is a non-destructive method, as it adds the effect to a layer rather than the actual image. The effect is the same, and the tools are the same. The real plus to using these is you can later change the effect or delete it without losing your other changes. To use Adjustment Layers, go: Layers -> New Adjustment Layer -> (choose one of the options).


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Jesper
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Aug 21, 2004 01:52 |  #15

BDM wrote:
That was a very interesting post. I'm relatively new to Photoshop and I have a lot to learn. So far I have learned a few things not to do. At some point I must begin to learn what to do.

I believe you performed a great service to those of us who are just getting our feet wet. Perhaps you could write additional ilustrations from time to time.

Bruce

If you want to learn how to correct and improve photos in Photoshop, go to a bookstore and look up one of the many books about the subject. I have this one and I like it: The Adobe Photoshop CS Book for Digital Photographers (external link) by Scott Kelby. It contains a lot of tips like what Scottes showed here.


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Post Processing #1 - Very Basic Contrast Tutorial
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