DIG­I­TAL DARK­ROOM Find your Lev­els

Take con­trol of the tones in your images – George Cairns re­veals all

NPhoto - - Nikon Skills -

Pho­to­shop El­e­ments’ au­to­matic en­hance­ment com­mands en­able you to fix ex­po­sure prob­lems with a click. Com­mands such as Auto Lev­els work their tone-tweak­ing magic by read­ing and ad­just­ing a photo’s his­togram.

A his­togram is an un­du­lat­ing graph that shows the spread and strength of the shad­ows, mid­tones and high­lights in a par­tic­u­lar shot. The his­togram of a cor­rectly ex­posed photo will dis­play a graph that spreads from the far left (where the shad­ows are rep­re­sented) to the far right (where the high­lights are rep­re­sented). The con­cept of his­tograms may sound a bit daunt­ing, but they’re the key to over­com­ing ex­po­sure-re­lated prob­lems.

In this tu­to­rial, we’ll start by us­ing the Auto Lev­els com­mand to darken the washed-out shad­ows in our over-ex­posed start im­age. How­ever, some­times Auto Lev­els won’t pro­duce the de­sired re­sults – you may want to see more mid­tone de­tail or cre­ate dra­matic black shad­ows, for ex­am­ple – so we’ll also ex­plore how to make tonal ad­just­ments man­u­ally us­ing the shadow, mid­tone and high­light slid­ers in the Lev­els di­a­log. Not only will this help with the ex­po­sure, it will also im­prove colour and con­trast.

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