Making Over Your Total Brightness and Contrast

Some images need it all . . . highlight and shadow adjustments as well as brightness and contrast help. For images that have multiple makeover issues, the order in which you perform your adjustments is just as important as the adjustments themselves. To show you what I mean, I'll walk you through the procedure for salvaging a particularly problematic image.

1 Open the image Frances_ and_Sheila.tif image.

This image is available for download from the Web site associated with this book.

2 Choose ImageoDuplicate to make a duplicate copy.

Even if the original image seems not much to look at, you still want to work on a copy.

3 Choose WindowsoInfo.

Doing so calls up the Info palette.

A quick glance at the readings in the Info palette tells the tale: This image not only has poor highlights and shadows, but also poor contrast.

4 Choose the Eyedropper tool from the toolbox and set its sample size to 3 by 3 Average in the Eyedropper tool's Options bar.

5 Move the Eyedropper tool over the white blouse.

Note that it measures about 20 percent K — way too dark for a diffuse highlight.

6 Move the Eyedropper tool over the right side of the black belt toward the right side of the image.

Note that the grayscale is around 70 percent, which is too light for a shadow area.

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7 Choose ImageoAdjustmentso Levels to call up the Levels dialog box.

Note that both the Highlight and Shadow sliders are some distance away from the main image data.

8 Move the Highlight slider to the left until it's directly under the significant data bump in the histogram.

Fine-tune the placement of the Highlight slider until the Info palette measures 5 percent in the sleeve area (the lightest area) of the diffuse highlight in the white blouse.

9 With the Levels histogram still open, move the Shadow slider to the right until it is directly under the data bump in the Shadow end of the histogram.

0 Using the Eyedropper tool, measure the right side of the black belt again.

Note that the K value is now around 80 percent — a marked improvement on the earlier 70-percent range, but still too light. The reason for this is that the background of the image is even darker than the black belts, so the dark background portion of the image is what's showing up in the far-left side of the histogram.

! Move the Shadow slider further to the right until a measurement of the black belt in its darkest area reaches close to 95 percent.

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