Adjusting the exposure of images is a fundamental photo-editing skill — one you're sure to use day after day. The most common exposure adjustments involve setting highlight and shadow points as well as making overall brightness and contrast adjustments. Many scanned images — and most digital photographs — typically require at least some adjustments to these characteristics.
You can set highlight and shadow points either qualitatively (by eye), or quantitatively (by the numbers), or by using a combination of the two. If an image contains a diffuse, white highlight area, it's usually best to set the highlight by the numbers to make sure you get it correct. If no white highlight is available, then you can usually make an adjustment using just the naked eye — with a little help from the image data visible in the histogram.
Keep in mind that the order in which you perform your image adjustments is important as well. Typically, you'll want to adjust highlight and shadow points first and then move on to affect overall image brightness. Contrast adjustments will typically be fourth on your list. Whole image corrections typically precede any partial image (selected area) adjustments.
As a final note, this chapter focuses on applying your basic image exposure makeover skills to grayscale images. Chapter 4, on the other hand, shows you how to apply many of these same skills to making over color images.
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