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Exposure & Color, Part 2

  • In depth look at Curves - the most precision exposure control you have!
  • Shadows and Highlights - opens up shadows, brings down highlights - just remember that this feature works on the pixels directly, so if you have to undo later, or do more, it will affect the pixels again and cause dome degradation. Use it carefully and do it once!

Exposure & Color, Part 2

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 0:07
  • Demonstration 1: More on Curves and Levels 2:19
    • Levels
    • Curves
  • Demonstration 2: More on Curves and Level 8:11
    • Curves
  • Demonstration 3: Shadows & Highlights 11:09
    • Overview
    • Shadow and Highlights
  • Demonstration 4: Hue/Saturation and Vibrance 15:46
    • Hue/ Saturation
    • Vibrance
  • Demonstration 5: Color Balance 22:52
    • Color Balance

Transcription: Exposure & Color, Part 2

Hi everyone, Michael Brown back with you again.0000

Welcome back to's Adobe Photoshop CS6 course.0002

In the last lesson we took a look at exposure and color corrections part 1, and what we went over (let me find that) we went over the auto exposure and color controls, auto tone, color contrast and brightness which are contained here under the Image menu, as these three also under the curves or levels as the options which are the first three are the same as those three, and the fourth one and hence brightness and contrast is the same as your auto button.0007

That is your first shot at correcting exposure and color when you open up an image from Camera Raw--if it needs anything at all, just give them a try anyway, you know, it might improve things, it might not, but it's worth just going click, click, click, click four times to see if anything improves, good thing.0045

We talked about brightness and contrast in the last lesson which is all or nothing, which I don't find extremely useful; I need more detail.0064

We looked at levels, which gives you a little more detail--you get contrast adjustment and you get a little more adjustment on highs and lows, brightening and opening up shadows and highlight details, but the big dog is curves, which gives you total control about everything.0072

So, in this lesson we're going to take up from there, I'm going to talk a little bit more about curves and levels, show you the shadows and highlights control, and the hue saturation and vibrance controls which are very, very similar--subtly different but worth playing one against the other to see, in a specific circumstance, which one might be better for you--gives you a variety of choice.0091

And finally, the color balance control, which is basically adding and subtracting overall color throughout an image, so let's get started.0116

I wanted to go back and show you (let me pull up an image here...I've got to find the one I'm looking for, where is it...hey, don't do that...3679, there we go) here we have an image that needs a little help, so right off the bat, let's start with levels (I want to go back to pulling these two out of here and we'll just go to levels).0126

Now, image adjustment--there's levels and curves--these are called adjustment layers, they're the same adjustments, but they become layers that you can actually turn the adjustment on and off--we'll be talking about that, but for demonstration here I'm going to use this one.0155

You could go Image, Adjust--actually I'll just go ahead and stay with this one, don't want to confuse you yet (cut that one out).0172

Alright, here's our histogram, here's the levels dialog box, in this particular shot, we can see that the darkest--this is a little washed out, and we can also see in the histogram that there is no black point...the blacks stop right about in here, so right off the bat, remember the adjustment; take the black point and slide it back to where the blacks start--notice how the image is getting a little more contrast--watch the neutral gray slider, it's always going to stay halfway between black and white unless you change it; notice when I move it, that one moves to the right as well, so it affected the mid-tones.0179

We got a little more of the contrast which upped our colors just a hair, but now that looks fine.0221

Let's also try our four options, I'm not happy with the brightness and contrast; the dark and light colors washes--it's putting too much yellow in, notice how the blue is getting an intensity drop, per channel contrast, monochromatic per channel, monochromatic...I'll click OK, and I'm going to reset...come back to here, I think I like it just the way it is without any other additions at all.0230

We've done the best we can with this adjustment.0268

Now, one of the other things I want to show you in the levels dialog box...look at the pre-sets up at the top, we didn't talk about these--you can also go per channel if you wish, which is a very complex one because as you effect each color channel with exposure, it will affect the color--we don't want to deal with that in this course, that's a very advanced color correction method, but here's some pre-sets.0271

Here's a brighter mid-tone, watch what happens to your slides that we have here...notice, the black point moved back over and the slider for the neutral gray went to the left, so what we got was opening up or flattening out the contrast--we don't like that one at all, so let's go back and try contrast 1, which did move the black slider a little bit, but also pulled the white slider and it killed our detail on the whites.0298

These are only pre-sets, so you can change them, so we can move the whites back, and if we move the blacks back look what we have, right back where we started, so what we did was a little bit better--in fact, we can even go a hair more of, I don't want to mess with that too much.0333

There are all these choices here that you can play with and then move from there.0349

OK, I want to cancel out of that, move over to curves, and once again we have the same histogram, the same situation, and we have all of the same tools.0354

Here are pre-sets again up here, but first let's take--and we can move the black point slightly, and remember how to do contrast--you set a point halfway between the white and the black which is neutral gray, take a point mid-tone between neutral gray and black, which is in the shadow areas, pull that down a little bit, and you snap the contrast, but you notice the whites got a little brighter--we'll pull them up away, we can grab the white point and pull it down, and there we have fixed that just the way we like it.0367

I'm going to reset that however, and just remember the S curve.0405

We're going to the pre-sets, and let's try increase contrast...and look what we got, severe contrast--the same kind of curve I talked about with several points, but it extremely moved the whites up, I don't like this point being on there, I like the whites where they are, and I can take the contrast and move it up just slightly, and basically we've got what we had before.0412

So these pre-sets (I didn't mean to make that go away, sorry) are a good starting point--let's try another one--medium contrast.0440

That's almost what we had ourselves except I don't like that white point being messed with...put a point in the middle and pull that down a little bit, so you can start with a pre-set and modify it, but then again it's showing you the generalities.0448

OK, so there you have about the pre-sets.0464

Alright, so let's go back to this and we've talked a little bit more about curves now with pre-sets, and one more thing I want to talk about in both levels and curves--let's go to the Coca-Cola can, I know it's here...must be this one...there it is, here we have a shot I took, and I took this down at the beach, actually at the shore on a day when it was overcast--flat, gray, that's why you see open shadows, I like the overall, it's a little bit bright in the water, but I see generally it's got a little bit of cyan in it and a little bit too yellow.0467

That's from a cloudy day, so we'd like to try to counteract that, so let's go to the Image menu, Adjustments to curves, and what we're going to deal with these three eye-droppers.0515

This is a white point, a gray-neutral gray point, and black--what this will do is set one of those three, whichever you choose, for your particular image, so let's try neutral gray--we've got a lot of gray rocks in here--all we have to do is click on a point that you think should be neutral gray, and it will adjust everything in the image accordingly and make that point neutral gray and everything else is adjusted by the same amount.0530

Let's do it on a red just for the heck of it to show you what happens, and it made that neutral gray, and everything else adjusted accordingly so obviously that did not work.0560

Option or Alt on a PC will change your cancel button to a reset--let's try on this rock over here...we click that and almost nothing changed, which shows you that although it has a little yellow cast and a little cyan cast for the day, neutral gray is accurate on this image in what appears to be neutral gray, so there really is no additional correction we can make overall with these three correction controls, so we'll just go ahead and cancel out of that.0572

So now, that sums up the controls, additional controls--the presets, and the three color choice dropper; the white, gray and black point for curves and levels, so now you can go in and you can play with the presets and then modify them from there if you're unsure with levels or curves.0610

You also see that once again curves gives you a lot more latitude than levels--with levels you've only got contrast, that's it, with curves you can lock off various areas, you can keep the brights the way they are and lock and work with shadows or vice versa--anything you want, so I suggest that you really practice with curves.0636

OK, let's reset these--there's curves and levels.0657

Let's talk about shadows and highlights--a really cool feature.0660

Let me find a very contrasting image (I've got it here--there it is) this is a shot I took that same trip with that same area that I just talked about--you see the same lake back there--but from a different angle.0664

You see on the lady here, you can see that the light is slightly from the back, she's got a black jacket on (and I want to open this up because that was already corrected, I was practicing) this is the way I took the shot, and you notice that the highs are burned out a little bit, the blacks are blocked up a little bit, but overall the exposure is correct, so this was the best exposure I could get with a camera, and it would be hard to do improvement even with curves--let's try it!0679

We want to lock off neutral gray, we want to open up the shadow detail, and we'll bring down the highlight's kind of working, but look what it's done.0709

It's (remember how exposure affects color) since we're flattening things out the color went down--we get detail in the gray, we pulled a little detail on the jacket but look what it did--it just kind of really made the image muddy.0722

Better tool...under the Image menu, over to Adjustments, down to shadows and highlights--cool tool.0736

Now when you first open it up, this is the box you'll get, this is just the basic box that allows you to play with shadows and highlights--it defaults at a finite amount of shadow removal (we're going to go back) this is the original image right here...if you take your shadow slider, look what it's opening up the detail in her jacket and in the side of her face, but at the same time, it's flattening out the mid-tones.0745

You see that?0776

It helped, and if we take the highlights and pull them down, it's dropping the highlights and you're getting more detail in here but it darkened the image up but we kind of get this flat look--it's not bad!0777

However, if we click the show more options, we can adjust the tonal width on our shadow detail--now if I pull the tonal width down and increase the amount, notice what happens--let's take that highlights back to zero--notice by the tonal width, we help the mid-tones, so we don't want to hurt the mid-tones so we reduce the tonal width and we can still pull more from the shadow detail--look at that...we got, and this is what we want, from zero to 45, and now we have lots of detail on the jacket, and we still preserved the mid-tones.0789

A lot better than with the basic just pulling the shadows, so the tonal width helps, the radius--it plays with a little color in the shadows, watch on her wrist here, as I open up the radius or tone it down it got really flat color, just play with that until it looks about right, and that's good for the shadows.0832

Now we want to pull the highlights a little, and let's run that tonal width down and try the highlights.0852

It's only taking the very highlights off the sky. As the tonal width comes up, notice the sky is coming and so is the concrete (let's go a little bit more) but we're getting a little 'haloing' here.0859

So if I increase the radius, or decrease it, that's what you play with--see the 'haloing'--the radius is how many pixels out the effect is taking place.0865

So what we're going to do is pull that radius way back so we get very little at zero, and yet we've got a lot of improvement.0879

We'll go right about to here, we'll click OK, and I want to go Command or Control+Z, there was our original image, and there's what we accomplished with shadows and highlights.0890

Far more than we could get with curves and look--the sky is more saturated, the lake stays the same, the mountains are pretty much the same, most of the greenery is but we got all that shadow detail, and now we've got a highly usable image.0905

There you have a demonstration of shadows and highlights--a really good tool, and be sure to play with the tonal width and the radius just a bit to see how it affects your image as you are taking the shadows and opening them, and taking the highlights and reducing them--a really nice tool.0923

It's actually magic, I'm amazed at what it can do.0943

So let's talk about hue saturation, that's one tool--hue saturation, and vibrance is another tool.0946

Let's go back to this image, and we're going to go back and open it up...that's the original image right there.0953

Image is a little flat, so the first thing we would like to do is we're going to try the auto controls for color; we'll just hit our Options button, brightness and contrast--kind of blew out the highlights a little--dark and lights, not bad, a little too one-tone--I see red, I'll pull down on the blues, per channel looks pretty good, monochromatics a little bluer, this is the one right there, we'll click OK, so we've got a preliminary start.0963

Now our exposure looks pretty decent, we could actually increase the contrast just slightly--center point, knock the shadows, now you notice that it blew the highlights, it blew them up so we'll pull that down--there we got that.0994

So we went from here to here, now we need to pull up our color, remember we've done the exposure, now it's time for color.1009

Image, Adjust--I want to show you, here's hue saturation under, and vibrance, right below the levels, curves, exposure--we're going to have hue saturation and vibrance we're going to work with but I want to do it this way--in the layers panel at the bottom, here also is the same thing but it makes layers that can be turned on and off so I want to do one of each over here, so you can compare the two.1018

We'll start with the hue's the hue saturation dialog box, I'm going to move the image over so we can see it--zoom it up just a little bit so we can see the water, sky and the marsh land.1045

Now what you have here--you have several pre-sets for different kinds of effects--there's a sepia tone effect and all sorts of weird stuff just jacking up saturation, we'll go to default and work on it.1059

Hue takes the entire image or selected area and works the color wheel; it's just changing every single tone uniformly around the wheel, we're not going to deal with that.1072

Saturation--if you go and reduce it, you now have no color.1083

If you go all the way, it's some sort of electronic image, but back here we'll just pull it up, and I'm looking more in the marsh land to try to get the color right on the grass, and I got that, and the hills look nice, and actually it's not too bad--it's a little bit electric in the water, but that's not too bad, and there are other tools that we're going to deal with here--you can also work on--that was the Master button.1087

Here's reds, yellows, greens, cyan, blue and magenta--individual channels.1121

I think the blues are a little bit too much, so we'll take the blue channel and drop the saturation down just a hair...that balances it out a little bit more, and let's take the greens and see if we can bop them up just a little...there's not too much green--when it goes all the way up and it gets electric it's mostly yellow in there but...yes, just a little bit--didn't have much effect, and if we pull the yellow up just a little...there we go...yellow channel's up.1126

Now the reds are getting a little bit overkill right down in here, so we can counter that by going to our red channel and dropping.1161

Notice if I pull the saturation the reds go away completely, we'll come back right into here and that balances it out pretty well, and there you have the image adjusted by hue saturation control, not only using the master overall all colors.1174

We have, let's see, we've upped the master and we've upped the yellows a little bit, we've reduced the reds and reduced the blues, and that gives us a nice balanced color image overall.1187

So let's turn that layer off, go back to the beginning and demonstrate to you vibrance.1204

Vibrance...overall you don't have channel controls, does a little more subtle color change in your image.1212

If there are, in this case, most of the colors are pretty much the same in their density; the blues are a little more than the yellows, but this is an even image.1223

Vibrance takes the more dominant colors and does not increase those as much as the non-dominant--it tries to balance up the intensity of all of the colors.1235

In this case, it will just probably do a uniform job so we bump it up all the way, and notice how everything balanced.1247

If we compare that...take a look, the yellows come up once here...there's what we did by just hitting the vibrance alone and not having to work anything, and there's what we did with the hue saturation--we could even come up maybe a little bit more on the hue saturation overall...and that would probably match up...yes.1257

You know the vibrance pulls the blues a little bit more--it's a little more careful on the yellows and reds, but pretty similar, and without having to do 43 different options, the vibrance did it in one shot, so there you have a demonstration--let me see if we have one more image that I can do for you that has a lot of color in it already...let's see, let's see, let's see, let's see what I've got here...let's try this one with the vibrance control and see what that does.1289

Vibrance...notice in the background, it's pulling up the blues more than the red tones...notice it affects blues and yellows a little more than the reds--if you have a portrait shot which I don't have pulled up here, and you have a colorful background, by playing with the vibrance it tends to protect skin tones--I'll demonstrate this in another lesson, but vibrance is a very, very good choice for subtle changes, not to kill colors, so there you have a demonstration of the hue saturation and the vibrance control in Photoshop CS6.1328

Let's take a look at color balance, which is really a pretty simple...let's just work right here...oh, first off, let's try vibrance on this one and see what happens just for fun...there's a perfect example right there, there we go, I knew I could find one.1373

In this image we've got intense greens, the blues are held back.1394

If we hit vibrance, notice how the greens didn't change a lot, but we got blue in the water, green in the water and blue in the sky--we just changed that by simply pulling up the vibrance.1398

If we do hue saturation on this image, watch what's going to happen.1412

When the sky gets up there, notice, the greens got killed, so there's a demonstration on how, in this case, vibrance worked well with the blues and preserved the greens.1418

Alright, we were going to do color balance...this image doesn't need a color balance.1429

I'm going to find one here that's off...let's just--I'll go back to that one, that's good right there.1436

We've got her corrected, this is a little cold, color balance is a fairly simple tool--once again Image, Adjustments, under vibrance, hue saturation, here's color balance, and I'll just bring it up this way so you can see it.1444

You have three sliders; you can adjust the tone and the shadows, mid-tones, highlights, preserve luminosity keeps the tonality a little bit better, that's by default, just leave that, and you have opposite colors--you add red and you subtract cyan.1459

In other words look what happens; the image overall got red and pulled cyan, or the other way you get cyan and pull red--it's just a filter overall.1475

And the same with green; knocks magenta--magenta knocks green--if you wanted to knock the blue and add yellow--in other words, it's an overall tone corrector, so if you have an image that's a little off on the overall tones, you can try the color balance.1489

It's not quite as effective because it does change every color--what it's doing here, now it adds blue and pulls yellow, so everything is affected--not individual channels like we had with the hue saturation control, we can increase or change the hue of individual channels, but it's useful for minor color corrections.1507

OK, so there you have a little more on curves, shadows and highlights, exposure control, hue saturation and vibrance--both of them work well--with the hue saturation you have channel choices, and color balance is a filter that adds or subtracts the various primary colors, and there you have exposure and color corrections one and two in Photoshop CS6.1533