Today we are going to talk about editing with curves. If you haven't used them before, here is a link to a detailed curves tutorial.
Very very basically, the curves grid allows you to manipulate contrast and tone. Contrast is the difference between light and shadow. Tone is the grey scale in color. (That's a bit confusing, I understand. I found this article really helpful.)
When I began editing photos back in 2002, I went a little wild with curves. It took me awhile to rein in my joy and not make every photo look painted! It was also a deciding factor in my shelling out the big bucks for photoshop vs elements as the elements (back then at least) didn't have a way to edit the curves. NO! how would I edit photos without it?? :)
Curves is an amazing tool, when used conservatively or with abandon. So let's get started!
STEP FOUR: CURVES
Here is our photo for today. I have already renamed it, resized it, and edited the levels.
Here is the curves grid before any editing.
The histogram looks pretty level, but I can see that they photo is a bit dull. So I drag the bottom left just a bit to enhance the blacks, and then lift the upper middle-ish of the top right to add some brightness to the color.
Here is the result.
Once I was done, I thought I might like it a bit brighter so I did the same thing again, but a little more gently.
Compare that back to the beginning and you can see how much happier it looks.
And if you want to, you can use it to really brighten and increase contrast.
It's really just a matter of preference.
You can also use curves to help fix color hue "errors."
Here is a photo that has already been run through steps 1 through 3.
You can see that the blue from the mats is reflecting everywhere. If I used the color balance tool to decrease the blues, it takes it from everywhere.
Or, I can use the curves and pull out the blues in the highlights. Here is the graph.
which then doesn't steal blue out of everywhere.
Here is a side by side. The original is in the middle, the (im)balanced blue reduction to the left, and the curves balancing to the right. Please click on it to make it bigger.
Please leave me your questions and let's see if we can have some fun together! Please stop back tomorrow where we tackle all the finishing touches.