Improving Tone And Contrast

If you had a choice of walking into two unfamiliar rooms—one with the lights on and one without lights—which one would you choose? Unless you're a horror film aficionado, I imagine you'd choose the room with the lights. Working with the tonality and contrast of an image is similar to lighting a room to influence the atmosphere. Finessing the lights and darks of an image can transform a flat, uninteresting photograph into an image that pops off the page and is a pleasure to look at.

Adjusting an image's tone and contrast is a very important step to bringing an image back to life. Although it may not be as sexy or dramatic as replacing a person's head or removing a bothersome telephone pole, adjusting an image's tone and contrast with Levels and Curves is an essential skill.

In this chapter, you'll work with grayscale and color images and learn to

• Appreciate the advantages of high-bit data

• Use levels to improve highlights and shadows

• Use curves to adjust image contrast

• Use blending modes to save time

• Share adjustment layers to save effort

• Apply selective tonal improvements to specific image areas

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