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Exposure & Color Corrections, Part 1

Lecture Slides are screen-captured images of important points in the lecture. Students can download and print out these lecture slide images to do practice problems as well as take notes while watching the lecture.

  • Intro 0:00
  • Lesson Overview 0:08
  • Mantra for Exposure & Color 0:49
    • Mantra for Exposure & Color
  • Auto Exposure/Color Controls 2:19
    • Auto Exposure/Color Controls: Demonstration 1
    • Auto Exposure/Color Controls: Demonstration 2
  • Manual Exposure Controls 9:12
    • Adjust Lighting: Brightness/Contrast
    • Adjust Lighting: Shadows/Highlights
    • Adjust Lighting: Levels
  • Manual Color Controls 19:25
    • Adjust Color: Hue/Saturation
  • Correcting in Quick & Guided 23:58
    • Exposure & Color Corrections in Quick
    • Exposure & Color Corrections in Guided
  • Lesson Summary 27:30

Transcription: Exposure & Color Corrections, Part 1

Hi, everybody--Mike Brown back with you with another lesson in Adobe Photoshop Elements 11 from!0000

It's time to work on your images!0009

You have organized them; you have run them through Camera Raw (maybe; maybe not); you have them open in the Editor; and the first thing we want to do, after you sharpen your image, is exposure and color.0011

Now, in this lesson and the next lesson, we're going to go over exposure and color corrections, auto and manual.0027

We will discuss the auto exposure and color corrections, manual exposure, manual color, and, in this lesson, I'm going to show you a comparison of doing these corrections with Quick, Guided, and Expert modes.0034

Let's go ahead and get started!0048

First, here is a chart of all of the auto exposure/color controls, manual exposure, and manual color controls.0050

In this lesson, everything that has a red dot is what we will cover; in the next lesson, everything with the blue X.0059

Let's start right away with my mantra for exposure and color; you have heard me say this in the intro on color and light: "Exposure affects color; color does not affect exposure."0066

Always do your exposure corrections first.0081

Remember the example of a stop sign at noon on a bright, sunny day; it's really vivid, bright red; as the day goes on, the sun goes down, and it begins to get darker, towards twilight, that color goes from a bright, vivid red to a darker, richer, dark, dark, dark...and it eventually goes black as it gets dark.0085

The exposure change from the sun and the day getting darker as it begins to get close to twilight changes the color.0105

So, just from a workflow point of view: always do your exposure corrections first--get the exposure right in your image; then adjust your color.0114

If you do the color first, and then the exposure, you will have to come back a second time.0125

The time you save is time you can spend on other things.0130

Exposure affects color; color does not affect exposure; always do your exposure corrections first.0133

Let's start with the auto exposure controls.0140

Don't be daunted by this chart; these are very simple.0144

There are five of them under the Enhance menu: Auto Smart Fix, Auto Levels, Contrast and Color Correction (are kind of grouped together--I'll explain that in a moment), Auto Smart Fix and Adjust Smart Fix (it's the same control--this one is adjustable; this one puts in a fix level).0147

Personally, I feel that they should have just left the Adjust, because that way, you put in exactly what you want to get the effect that you need, rather than having to take this and say, "Oh, I need more (or less)."0167

Auto Levels works on contrast between the brightest and darkest points; Auto Contrast uses a mid-tone gray and adjusts contrast from there; Auto Color Correction works on your brightest and darkest points as color.0178

Don't worry about that--they all three do similar things, but slightly different.0196

When you are working on your images, once you get them in here and you are ready to do exposure and color, it takes very little time to do all of the auto ones to see if one of them works well for you.0201

If it doesn't, you move on to the manual.0213

I want to tell you (and we'll show you here in a moment): different images respond differently to the auto controls.0216

Some of them respond very well; some of them don't.0223

It depends on the exposure, the color, the lighting...indeterminate ways.0226

I have two images here: this one, which (let's pull up our history panel) already had an adjustment on it; this image here--decent exposure; it's kind of a flat-lit situation; the colors are OK, but they could use some more "pop," and it looks to me like, overall, it has a little bluish cast to it--notice, the grass is a little dull.0233

This image has really good exposure (there is where we are, and we're on the original); the good exposure is in the mid-tones, but the sky is a little burned-out, and the foreground right area of the land, the shoreline, and also the rocks and the water in here are a little blown-out.0257

If I had exposed this any darker to get exposure on the land, I would have blocked up the shadow areas.0277

It being a raw image, I knew I could pull it all out of that image in Photoshop, so I accepted the mid exposure.0285

Let's try the auto exposure features on this image first.0295

We'll try this background layer, Enhance, Auto Smart Fix; it works...and not much; before and after--it's very hard to see--it brightened things up just a little bit; it didn't do much for that foreground at all--not too much.0302

We'll go back and do the second one, Auto Levels: you can see that it snapped the contrast (let's zoom it up a little bit so you can see it) over in this area; look up in the top, in the darks.0324

See, it snapped the contrast, which helped a little bit on the color of the water, but it really didn't do much for these rocks, so it still didn't do a lot.0340

Enhance, Color; we have a little color in there, but I see a little blue tone (it's hard for you to see, probably, but) there is a little blue tone that came in across the rocks, a and maybe even a little magenta; it kind of discolored things.0348

I can see the magenta in that walkway, or the roadway up there--so that didn't do a lot of good.0368

Let's try the last one, which is the Adjust Smart Fix, which gives us more control--let's go all the way.0374

We got some color improvement--you can see that--(it's thinking for a moment here)--color out, color's the best of the bunch, but I'm not really happy with it.0384

I think we can do better, so we'll just go ahead and leave it where we are.0397

Now, you saw that none of those auto controls did much on this image; let's take another image.0401

This is that image--a little blue and a little flat; let's start with the Auto Smart Fix; it's thinking; and it actually improved it!0409

There is the original; there is the Auto Smart Fix--we have color improvement and exposure.0419

So, we know that works; we'll take it out and try Levels.0424

That is even better--I like that a lot; look--everything looks good, popped up; the colors came up; notice, the exposure change actually changed the colors.0429

Auto Contrast--not quite as much change as the Levels; Levels seems to be the best.0439

We'll do Color Correction; that is not bad either; and we'll try the Levels again--I still think I like the Levels; it snapped it better.0447

Let's try the final one, Adjust Smart Fix--you notice, in this image, we're getting significant effect from each of the auto controls; in the other one, we didn't; that is why it's worth trying right away.0456

Let's just up this thing all the way to the top: Wow--look at that!--there is the Adjust Smart Fix all the way to the max, and here is the Levels, and here is the Adjust Smart Fix all the way; I think we got just a little more out of that.0469

That is pretty good, right there: we have a winner with an Auto Adjustment on this particular image.0491

But, on this image, none of them seemed to do much, so we're going to have to go to our manual controls.0499

We have looked at (let's take a look here) the Auto Smart Fix, Auto Levels, Auto Contrast, Auto Color, and Adjust Smart Fix.0505

You can see that, on some images, especially this image right here, all of them had a positive effect, and in that case, the Adjust Smart Fix did the best job.0518

It's worthwhile checking them out; on this it didn't; on this one, it did.0530

That is what your auto ones do; just give them a try, and it gives you a good starting point; it may not be...even with what we have here, I wouldn't mind going in with manual controls and popping it just a little bit more, but it gave us a good overall start.0535

There are your auto exposure and color controls.0550

Now, let's look at the manual exposure controls.0552

We're going to go back to three of them: Shadows and Highlights, Brightness and Contrast, and Levels, and they are under our Enhance menu.0556

We're going to start with this one here: Enhance, right under the Adjust Smart Fix, Adjust Lighting: Shadows and Highlights, Brightness and Contrast, and Levels.0567

Let's start with Brightness and Contrast: we get this slider box; what Brightness and Contrast does is, with the brightness slider--as you go brighter, everything gets brighter--black gets brighter; white gets brighter; mid-tones get brighter.0578

As you get darker, whites get darker, blacks get darker, mid-tones get darker...every pixel is affected, either positively or darker.0594

What we want to do...obviously, we are blown-out bright, so let's start by sliding it to the left, and we want to keep an eye on our shadows up here, so we don't lose them.0602

We brought it down, and let's snap the contrast; it's not overall contrast of the brightest and the darkest--it takes a section of mid-tones and snaps those and saves the brights and the darks, so it doesn't kill them.0618

Notice, as I do this, it didn't really do much on the whitest whites and the darkest darks; we still have some detail.0632

That is not too bad, actually--let's zoom it out; look at that--the color has come up; the preview is out; the preview is in; look at the change.0639

Look what we have down in here; let's take a look at the water, and look at these rocks over here--significant improvement; the color could stand some change, but that exposure sure helped things.0650

Let's open it up just a little bit--there we are!--that is what Brightness and Contrast did.0661

Now, what I'm doing over here (I want to show you) is, I have multiple layers on this image (we're going to get into layers in another lesson); each layer is independent.0668

The one that says BC here--we have applied the Brightness and Contrast to it; the "I" says it's on; I turn it off: there is our background layer--now we can see it.0680

Now we see the Brightness and Contrast layer, so we can see what we have done.0691

We'll turn that off; we're going to turn on the next one, which is Shadows and Highlights; go back to our Enhance menu...Adjust Lighting, Shadows and Highlights.0694

If this sounds familiar and looks familiar, it should be--remember, Camera Raw has a slider to adjust the highlights and the shadows independently, and mid-tone contrast; this is the same thing, right here.0707

When you do it in here, it defaults with the light and shadows at 35%; it's already light in the shadows, so we will slam that back to the left, to 0, and that is our starting point; nothing has been changed.0721

We don't need to lighten up our shadows any; we have detail; we're looking good.0736

We do need to take our highlights down, so let's start moving them down.0741

Wow, look at the change: we're starting to see tonality and color; over here in the earth--let's just go back: nothing--see how it's bringing it down; we get detail in the brights; the highlights are coming down really nicely--look at that!0745

Wow, that is nice: we have tone in the dirt; we have color in the water; we have color in the sky (that's 38%), right about there; it looks pretty good, doesn't it?0761

Not bad at all: we still have detail in the shadows, so we can even darken the highlights a little more and snap the contrast, even a little bit more.0775

Look at that; that looks pretty good.0783

Let's go ahead and click OK with that one, and zoom it back out, and now let's go off and on: the Shadows and Highlights layer is on, and the background layer is on.0787

So, if I turn this off, there is our original; and there is what Shadows and Highlights did; isn't that wonderful?--look at all of the shoreline; it looks beautiful; the color has become richer; it's a little darker yet--we need to pop the color a little bit--but it looks pretty good.0799

Now, let's compare it to the Brightness/Contrast layer: we'll turn that on, so now, when I turn Shadows and Highlights off, we'll be comparing Brightness and Contrast.0817

There is the Brightness and Contrast; there is the Shadows and Highlights; look how much detail into the shadow areas and pulling down of the highlights!0827

See, in the water and the rocks, the Shadows and Highlights really does a great job of pulling detail out.0838

It looks almost a little surreal, but you can see much better than the Brightness and Contrast, and significantly better than the original.0847

We'll turn those off, and now, let's go to Levels.0856

This is our original; Enhance, Adjust Lighting, and we're going to Levels.0860

Up comes the Levels dialogue box; now, this auto button is the same as the Auto Levels button in the auto controls; if I hit it, there is what we had from that--it didn't do very much, and notice, it just kind of jacked up our histogram a little bit.0869

We'll reset it, and we'll start all over again.0886

Now, a histogram, right here, is a graph of the distribution of exposure throughout the image from black (which is the black triangle), white (which is the white triangle), and gray (which is mid-tone).0890

You can see that it is actually a good exposure; that is what I was talking about--in the mid-tone areas, it's just wonderful--it just didn't have it in the highs and didn't have it in the lows.0903

Now, what you can do--if you take the black slider and go to the right, what it will do is, everything to the left of that slider in the histogram becomes black.0916

So, if I move all the way over here, notice how much black there is; all of this is now black.0928

We'll move it back out where it was; and the reverse is true with the white--as you move the white to the left, it brightens things up, and everything to the right is now white--all of that detail is lost.0935

This distribution only allows us to really snap the mid-tone contrast.0950

When we do that, you notice that the shadows have blocked up.0956

But, there is another slider--the output levels; it works in reverse; if I take the blacks down, everything gets darker; if I take the whites up, the whites blow out.0961

But, if I take the black output down, it will lighten the shadows back up.0972

Watch what happens: notice, we just do a little bit to get some detail--just a little bit of detail--back in the shadow areas; and we'll accept that.0978

You could also work individual channels, but we're not going to deal with those yet.0991

Click OK, and we'll turn that off; there is the original; there is what Levels did.0996

Let's try Brightness and Contrast comparison.1003

There is Brightness and Contrast, and Levels gave us just a little more, but not quite as much color; it's pretty close, actually.1006

We have a little more control with Levels; the one that really worked the best is Shadows and Highlights, but I think it needs a little pop in exposure.1016

Now, what we have seen is Brightness and Contrast, Shadows and Highlights, and Levels.1027

What we like best is the Shadows and Highlights, but I would like to apply a little bit of Levels to that and snap it just a little bit.1034

We're going to duplicate that layer and call it Shadows and Highlights Plus Levels.1043

We'll take and apply Enhance, Lighting, Levels on top of the Shadows and Highlights.1054

Notice, the distribution is now a little bit better: we can open up just a hair without hurting things; white, notice, got a little bit brighter; snap the contrast just slightly (oops, too much); and up the brightness just a little bit.1063

We'll undo and redo that one; this is Shadows and Highlights Plus Levels, and below it is Shadows and Highlights, and notice, what it did is snapped it just a little bit more.1085

There you have the exposure controls manually; let's take a look at them all now.1098

Brightness and Contrast, Shadows and Highlights, Levels, and then Shadows and Highlights Plus Levels, gives us this wonderful finish.1106

There are your three controls.1117

What I normally would suggest is: do Shadows and Highlights, and then apply a little bit of Levels to snap it a little bit further.1121

Look what we have, and we compare that with our original; we went from there to there--beautiful exposure and color throughout.1130

All right, let's go back and take a look at our chart.1139

We have now looked at Shadows and Highlights, Brightness and Contrast, and Levels, and you can see that combining the two of these gives you your best result.1143

Do the Shadows and Highlights first, and then add a little bit of Levels on top of that.1156

Now, let's go to our Color controls, and Hue Saturation is what we're going to deal with.1165

Here we have this image, which is pretty much the way we want it (tell you what); all we need to do here is to go in and Enhance, Adjust Color, Hue Saturation.1171

What we have is a slider box here: Hue runs the color wheel on the colors to shift all colors from where they are.1187

Let's put that back to 0 (oops--Enhance Color--sorry, I didn't mean to get out of there); the "saturation decreases" or "increases saturation" is overall; that is all colors.1197

Now, what we have here--I would like to bring up the greens just a little bit, but mostly, it's the blues and the earth tones that are down.1214

So, what I can do is: I take the saturation and, not increasing it too much--the trees look really good now--we could still use a little more blue, so what we can do--notice this button?--it says Master.1223

What I was increasing was the saturation of all channels; you have the option of working with red, yellow, green, cyan, blue, or magenta.1239

Well, we want to up the sky and the water, so let's take a look at cyan and see what the saturation level is there.1248

You can see where it is; we pull it up a little bit, and the sky is coming up--you can see it--not a lot; let's go to blue1254

We bring that up, and up comes the sky dramatically, now--notice that; we're going to click OK, and we're going to go back to the beginning.1262

This was the overall Adjust Hue Saturation--just a little bit, and then we snapped the cyan and blue, and look what happened there.1276

Now, we're going to do one more hit on that; I could have done it all at once; let's bring up the reds in the earth and see what happens.1284

We'll go to the reds and just up the saturation there a little bit; notice, we go all the way--you can see where the reds are--we don't want to do that; we'll back them off right about to there.1295

That looks pretty good: click OK, and now we'll undo it and redo it, and what you will see here (let's move it up so you can see in the earth tones)--we take it out, and we take it in, and you can begin to see some sandy color, and also the reds in there.1309

Let's move it up into here, and out, and in, and we have just a little bit of pop, and there is the final result after adding hue saturation, overall and individual channels.1329

Let's do one final thing: in this image, we have the Smart Fix; now, let's take it from there--let's duplicate the background and take a little this case, Shadows and Highlights we don't need; let's just go with Levels.1344

I think all we need to do is a little mid-tone contrast, right there; we brought it down, and we'll zap the exposure up just a little bit this way--there we are.1359

Before and after; it snapped it nicely; we have good exposure; let's up the color a little bit: Enhance Color, Hue Saturation, and I think, if we just take it overall (there we go), all the color levels were pretty uniform on this one, so right there looks pretty good.1376

There was before; there was after; so, all we had to do with this one: we started here, put a Smart Fix and a little Levels and a Hue Saturation, and look at this wonderful image, and this one, which we have done a lot of work to--we did Shadows and Highlights, Levels, and enhanced the color.1397

We have now gone over hue saturation, as well; that gives you a good idea of the auto exposure and color, manual exposure, and manual color.1418

I want to do a really quick thing now and go through--we have done the Expert mode; I want to show you Quick and Guided Edit with the same images.1437

Let's take this image and go to the background layer, which we know is untouched; I'm going to copy it and put it in a new image right here, and we'll just call this Quick.1446

What we will do is go to the Quick Edit; this is before and after; and we're going to do exposure first, color second.1461

This exposure is like the Brightness and Contrast; it's going to blow it out; but let's take a quick look.1472

It's just more or less, so we really don't want to deal with that one.1479

We'll deal with Levels--look familiar?--the same control that we have before: shadows, mid-tones, and highlights.1485

Here, we just pick boxes, so we're going to do mid-tones--maybe a little snap on the mid-tones--you just move your cursor and pick the box that you want, or you could use the slider.1493

Highlights--let's take the highlights down, and there is the same result we had before.1509

Let's go back to the mid-tones and snap them just slightly...and there you go; we have done the exposure control; let's go to our color.1520

Saturation, Hue, and Vibrance--but we do not have control of individual channels here.1534

We're going to go with Vibrance instead of Saturation; remember, we know that if we take our Saturation and up it, that is way too much.1540

We're going to go to the Vibrance; Vibrance deals with non-dominant colors, which will pop those blues; the greens will stay the same, and notice how the blue, as I move across from one to the other--the blue continues to come up.1550

Probably right here...and now you can see that the greens, the blues--we didn't get a lot on the yellows, but look at the before and after; we're just going to go ahead and save that one as Quick.1567

Oops...I can't spell very it.1588

Now, we can go back to the Expert mode, and you will see that there is the Quick, and there is our--let's see...let's do this one with Shadows and Highlights Plus Levels versus the Quick Edit.1593

They're pretty close: a little bit more in the blue, because we had more control with our hue saturation.1608

Let's go take a look at the Guided Edit, and here is Levels; it's the same Levels; and here we have the Enhance Colors, which gives you the Hue Saturation without individual control.1614

You're going to get the same result as you would in the Quick.1627

Here we have the Quick and the Expert: Quick, Expert; you notice that we get a little more control in the high areas of control, due to the fact that the Hue Saturation allowed us to have the individual layer controls.1631

There you have Lesson 1 in exposure and color corrections: we have gone over auto and manual exposure and our primary color controls.1651

Come back in the next lesson, and we're going to go over removing color casts, desaturating skin tones, variations, and making some cool things out of black and white.1662

I'll see you in the next lesson!1673