|The Levels command corrects tonal ranges and color balance issues. With this command you can fix poor exposure. Additionally, you can perform color correction by manually identifying a white point and black point in the image. Nearly every image can benefit from making a Levels adjustment.|
To understand Levels, you must be able to read a histogram. This graph works as a visual guide for adjusting the image. The Levels adjustment has its own histogram that is visible when working in the Adjustments panel. You may also want to call up the Histogram panel (Window > Histogram) and leave it open while color correcting to help you spot issues in color and contrast. You can also expand the Histogram panel by clicking the submenu and choosing All Channels View. Let’s give the command a try.
1. Add a Levels adjustment layer by clicking the Levels icon in the Adjustments panel. Levels is also available from the Adjustments menu (Image > Adjustments), but the adjustment layer is more flexible for future modifications.
2. This photo was shot under mixed light, but you can reset the black and white points of the image to fix the exposure. In the Adjustments panel, move the white Input Levels slider to the left. This affects the image’s white point and allows you to reassign where white should begin in the image.
3. Move the black Input Levels slider slowly to the right. The more you move the black slider to the right, the more contrast is introduced into the image.
4. The true power lies in the middle (gray) Input Levels slider. By moving this slider, you can modify the gamma setting. Effectively, you can use the middle Input Levels slider to change the intensity of the midtones. This adjustment can be made without making dramatic changes to the highlights and shadows, and lets you better expose an image. Move the slider to the left to add light; move the slider to the right to subtract light.
In the future if you need to edit the adjustment, simply select the adjustment layer in the Layers panel and manipulate the controls in the Adjustments panel.
TIP Rinse and Repeat
If you have several images from the same camera or shoot, they may need the same Levels adjustment. The Save button allows you to save a Levels adjustment (to the folder that contains the image is a good place). You can then click the Load button to apply that adjustment to another image.
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Entry Deadline: July 31, 2012
Winners Revealed: August 10, 2012
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• Adobe Photoshop CS6
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People's Choice Award
• Wacom Cintiq 21UX Interactive Pen Display
• Adobe Photoshop CS6
• Two-Year Membership to NAPP
Honorable Mention Award • Wacom Cintiq 21UX Interactive Pen Display
• One-Year Membership to NAPP
|I frequently see other photographers struggle in preparing their files for the Internet. Some make files that are ridiculously big and take forever to download. Others accidentally resize or flatten layers during the process and damage their files. But I understand, you probably didn’t study to be a web developer.|
Fortunately, Photoshop provides a powerful command for compressing images and previewing the results: the Save For Web & Devices command.
1. Open an image in Adobe Photoshop.
2. Choose File > Save For Web & Devices.
3. The Save For Web & Devices dialog box offers several important options for optimization and preview:
- Tools. If you can’t see the entire image, you can use the Zoom tool to make the image more visible. Additionally, you can use the Hand tool (or hold down the spacebar) to drag and navigate around the image.
- Optimization tabs. By clicking the four tabs at the top, you can choose to view the Original image, an Optimized view, 2-Up for two versions of the image side by side, or 4-Up for four versions of the image side by side. Being able to compare optimized images helps you choose the right format and compression settings.
- Image Optimization Info. The area below each image in the Save For Web & Devices dialog box gives you optimization information. You can see the current optimization applied, the projected file size, and the estimated download time based on a selected modem connection speed.
4. You’ll likely need to further reduce the file size for Internet delivery. The first area to tackle is the actual image size in pixels. In the Image Size field type in a Height of 600 pixels, so the image can integrate easily into the Web page (even with a screen resolution of 1024 x 768, a height of 600 would allow the image to display without scrolling up and down). Press the Tab key to exit the field and apply the resize value.
5. The file size has been reduced, but it’s hard to see the effects of the compression. Set the image magnification view to 100%.
6. Change the amount of Compression by either changing the preset (from High to Medium, for example) or adjusting the Quality amount.
7. Click Save to specify a location for the saved file and then write a compressed Web-ready version. The original file will remain untouched, and its resolution and quality will be identical to its state when you launched the Save For Web & Devices command.
For more on mastering Photoshop, check out my book Understanding Adobe Photoshop.