Understanding tone

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After you've adjusted the white balance, tint, and saturation of your image's colors in Camera Raw, you can make tonal adjustments to distribute those colors across different parts of the image. You're not changing any color: you're changing the way it appears in the light tone, dark tone, and midtone (in-between) areas of the image, as shown in Figure 7-3.


Figure 7-3: Light, dark, and midtone areas of an image.

Think of tone as not changing color within an image, but how you distribute color across it. When you adjust exposure, shadows, brightness, contrast, and curves in Camera Raw, you are making tonal changes to the image.

Tonal adjustments to your images are made by using these controls in Camera Raw and Photoshop:

i Exposure: Worth the price of Photoshop CS2 all by itself, the Camera Raw Exposure control allows you to increase or decrease the actual exposure of an image. Getting a good exposure with your digital camera is important, but it's nice to be able to increase or decrease the amount of exposure digitally. That capability helps prevent processing an image that's overexposed (too dark) or underexposed (too light). Check out the examples in Figure 7-4 to see what I mean.

Figure 7-4: Underexposed, overexposed, and just right!

Just right

Underexposed Overexposed

Figure 7-4: Underexposed, overexposed, and just right!

Just right

A new feature in CS2 is the Exposure adjustment. It's a nice addition to Photoshop, similar to a feature used in Camera Raw for non-raw images such as JPEGs or TIFFs. The drawback to using the Photoshop Exposure adjustment is that it's considered destructive; you're potentially throwing away pixels.

If you're shooting raw, always adjust exposure using Camera Raw; reserve the Photoshop Exposure adjustment for other file formats.

i Shadows: Camera Raw gives us the ability to increase or decrease areas of the image that are mapped (assigned as black). Increasing Shadows in Camera Raw has a benefit of making the image appear as if it has more contrast. I recommend that you increase Shadows only until clipping (loss of detail) occurs. I explain more about the Shadows adjustment and clipping in Chapter 9.

i Brightness: In Photoshop, brightness is combined with the Brightness/ Contrast adjustment. In Camera Raw, the Brightness adjustment is a standalone control.

i Contrast: The Contrast control allows you to increase or decrease contrast in the midtones of the image; you can make your light areas lighter and your dark areas darker. Another advantage to shooting raw is that you can adjust contrast in Camera Raw without throwing away any image data. Like the other color and tonal controls in Camera Raw, the Contrast control changes your images non-destructively.

As with the Shadows adjustment, be sure you monitor any clipping that may occur when you increase or decrease the contrast in an image.

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