Making Over Specular Highlights/ Increasing Overall Brightness (continued)

6 Choose ImageoAdjustmentso Levels to access the Levels dialog box.

Note in the dialog box how the Highlight slider is way right, similar to the starting position in the previous exercise. The difference here is that there is a small peak of image data at the highlight end in this image and histogram.

This small data peak at the highlight end represents the specular highlight area of the bright light bulbs. This area of the image is so much lighter, relative to the remaining image data, that nearly all the rest of the image data has been pushed far to the left of the midtone. When the specular highlight displaces histogram data this way, it reveals the reason why this image seems so dark and low-key.

O Reset the highlight by moving the Highlight slider left until it is directly below the first bump-up in the image data in the histogram.

8 Click OK in the Levels dialog box to apply this change.

Note how the overall image brightness has improved . . . somewhat. There's still room for some improvement, however.

9 Choose ImageoAdjustmentso Curves to call up the Curves dialog box.

What we're aiming for now is increasing the image's overall brightness.

0 Click the horizontal grayscale gradient bar (located under the graph) until the highlight end is on the right.

Note: If your Curves dialog box does not have the fine 10-percent grid seen here, Opt/Alt+click anywhere on the grid. Doing so changes the coarse grid to a fine grid.

! Lighten the image by clicking and dragging the middle of the curve in the Curves dialog box up 20 percent (2 fine grid lines).

This move significantly lightens the mid-tones, showing progressively less impact toward the highlight and shadow ends.

Taz's Take: This lightening could be performed with the Midtone slider in the Levels dialog box, but the results are typically not as smooth and therefore not as high quality as I'd like.

@ Click OK in the Curves dialog box.

You see an immediate, overall brightening of the image.

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