Levels adjustments are are pretty basic and straightforward way of maximising the tonal range of your pictures. You move the white and black point sliders to line up with the brightest and darkest parts of the picture, and that’s it – you've got maximum tonal range and contrast. Curves are more complex because they enable you to adjust the brightness and contrast within … [Read more...] about Levels vs curves vs luma curves: ways to adjust contrast in photos
Curves are one of the most fundamental image adjustment tools in photo editing software, but they're not often well understood – and particularly the relationship between levels and curves adjustments.
The easiest way to think of it is that levels adjustments are used to maximise the tonal range or total contrast in the photo, from dense black to brilliant white, whereas curves are used to adjust the contrast within a specific range of tones.
An example might help. You might have a photo with maximum contrast that still looks rather flat. Typically you can make these pictures look better by increasing the contrast in the midtones, and you can do that by steepening the middle of the curve. This inevitably flattens out the highlight and shadow areas, though, so you get less contrast here than you had before. Often, this doesn't matter, but it does highlight a key point about curves – that there's only a finite amount of contrast in the picture and that you use curves adjustments to control where in the range of tones that contrast is strongest.
With careful use of levels and curves adjustments you can rescue even the faintest and most faded artworks and restore both saturation and contrast. Levels and curves are two of the most basic adjustment tools in any image-editing program, but there’s often confusion about which to use and when, and it often appears as if they overlap in what they do. But some programs … [Read more...] about Restore faded art using levels and curves
Almost any image-editor worthy of the name offers curves adjustments, but they can be tricky things to get right. It's easy to overcook the results or fix a problem in one area only to cause a problem in another. So here are ten top curves tips to show how they work, what they can and cannot do and how to get them right. By the way, all of the screenshots below are … [Read more...] about 10 tips for curves adjustments
Curves adjustments are one of the more advanced image-editing techniques, not because they're especially technical or difficult to carry out, but because you have to understand exactly what's happening in order to make any genuine improvements. With curves, a small adjustment can make a big difference, and Aperture curves adjustments are no different. Curves work in exactly … [Read more...] about How to make better Aperture curves adjustments
OnOne Software Perfect Effects isn't just for image effects – you can also carry out everyday image-editing adjustments, thanks to the Perfect Effects Tone Enhancer. This is used for some of the effects in the presets panel on the left of the window, but if you want to access it directly it's best to go straight to the tools panel on the right. I'm going to show how it … [Read more...] about How to adjust curves with the Perfect Effects Tone Enhancer
Curves adjustments are tricky to get right. Small changes can have a big impact on the image, and it's easy to make things worse not better. That's why Adobe's provided a secret weapon – the Adjust Point Curve tool in Lightroom. Normally, you make curves adjustments by estimating or measuring the position of the area you want to adjust on the curve display, then add a … [Read more...] about How to adjust the point curve in Lightroom
DxO Color Efex Pro 4 isn't just a collection of special effects. It also has a number of powerful image-editing tools hidden amongst them, and one of these is the Levels & Curves tool. You can use this to make adjustments to your images in the same way you would in Photoshop, Elements and other image-editing programs. But these adjustments go further than you might think. … [Read more...] about Adding localised levels and curves adjustments in Color Efex Pro 4
Contrast and saturation are closely related. Sometimes you can end up increasing saturation when really it's the contrast that was the problem. That's why it's always a good idea to fix an image's contrast and tonal properties before you start worrying about its colour. And one of the best tools for doing this is curves. You can apply curves adjustments in a whole range of … [Read more...] about Better colours with curves adjustments