The Photoshop Curves tool is one of the most powerful commands you have in the digital darkroom. But it can be intimidating to some. Here are 6 Photoshop Curves techniques every photographer should incorporate into their workflow.
Sometimes, you may find your shot’s colours and tones don’t do the subject justice. Take our original image below – the contrast is flat, with little differentiation between shadows and highlights. This creates washed-out tones and drab colours. Shooting in raw gives you great control over tonal changes, especially if using the Photoshop CS Camera Raw editor’s Tone Curve tab.
Dodging and Burning is an easy way to solve exposure issues, enabling you to darken or lighten areas as you please. Traditionally, printers would use special tools to Dodge and Burn, but today digital tools can be used. One main difference is that the digital photographer can work these tools more accurately, choosing the Burn options to darken or Dodge to lighten. This’ll give you more tonal control allowing you to quickly lift a flat image, create paths of light, or enhance shadows and reflections.
Curves is one of the more powerful tools in Photoshop, as it allows you to make precision adjustments to some of the fundamental elements of an image – tone, colour and contrast.
While the exposure and dynamic range optimisation systems in modern digital cameras are sophisticated, they aren’t foolproof or psychic. Most images can benefit from some post-capture adjustment to their brightness and contrast, and the Photoshop Curves tool is ideal for making these precision adjustments. Watch our video to learn how to use Curves in a number of creative ways.
The exposure and dynamic range optimisation systems in modern digital cameras are sophisticated, but they aren’t foolproof or psychic, and most images benefit from some post-capture adjustment to their brightness and contrast.
Photoshop provides a number of ways to make these adjustments, but the Levels and Curves controls are two of the most powerful. Both of these adjustments can be applied as Adjustment Layers, so it’s possible to protect your original image, revisit your editing and try alternative treatments.