The next thing we want to look at is a lighting correction. Currently the background in this image is very dark, making it difficult to see the gorilla that the photographer probably intended the audience to see.
There are many ways to alter the lighting in this image. We can use tools to darken or lighten individual portions with a brush, or we can lighten and darken the entire image with one of several adjustments. In this section, we will use the Levels adjustment. The Levels adjustment allows us to control brightness or darkness in a whole image or selected parts.
We activate the Levels adjustment from the Adjustments panel. The Adjustments panel contains many common adjustments that we can use to improve or alter the image. Before we start working with Levels, let's open the Adjustments panel.
Step1. To open the Adjustments panel, in the panels,
Step2. To open the Levels sub-panel, in the Adjustments panel,
Adjusting Tonal Range
Contrast in an image is determined by its overall extent of brightness and darkness. It is more technically referred to as tonal range. Tonal range represents the image's distribution of pixels - the tiny units that make up the picture - from darkest to lightest. Every image will have its own best composition; some are brighter or darker than others. We will look at pixels much more closely later, but for now it is important to understand that we can change an image's illumination by modifying the number of these light or dark pixels on either end of a dark/light distribution.
The histogram in the panel (the part that looks like mountains) represents the image's tonal range. A histogram is a chart that shows the relative amount of pixels that are of varying brightness. The whole range of brightness extends from 0 (black) to 255 (full luminosity). As we can see immediately, there are few pixels in the right quarter of this image. Since the right side represents the brightest color values, this histogram is telling us that there are almost no light-colored pixels. In other words, we are seeing mathematically what we could already see with our own eyes: the picture is too dark. The benefit here is that we can mathematically adjust the distribution of pixels in the histogram, which means in turn that we can fix the tonal problems in the image (in this case, we can brighten it up).
There are several controls here. The Eyedropper tool on the left side of the panel can be used to sense the most dark and light pixels and use a special algorithm to extend its tonal range; however, for now we will use another method.
Beneath the histogram is a slider with three triangular controls that can be adjusted by dragging. The darkest triangle represents the image's shadows. The gray triangle represents the image's midtones, or gamma. And the white triangle represents the image's highlights:
There is no ‘correct' histogram that we are trying to create. Some images will be dark while some will be light. We are simply trying to improve the image.
Step1. To brighten the image, below the histogram,
Press & Drag the gray slider to the left until the gorilla is visible
Step2. To collapse the Levels sub-panel, if necessary, in the panel dock,
In the panels at the left, we can see the Layers panel. The Layers panel allows us to store individual elements of an image separately in a layer-like fashion, so we can change or delete these parts without hurting the rest of the image.
The Layers panel works as a stack. The layers at the top of the stack override whatever is on the layers below. Using layers, we can piece the elements together to create a composite image. In addition, we can adjust how transparent the elements on the layers are and change the way the colors between them interact.
When we make changes using any tool from the Adjustment panel, a new layer is automatically formed. Consequently, when we created our brightness adjustment using the Level Adjustments panel, Photoshop not only displayed that change in the panel, but it also created a separate layer for that adjustment.
This new layer is a visual representation of our adjustment, which allows us to control which underlying layers are affected by it and also enables us to go back and edit the adjustment itself.
Let's see how this works.
Step1. To activate the Levels layer, in the Layers panel,
Step2. To adjust the affect,
Press & Drag the gray slider
Step3. To collapse the Levels sub-panel again, if necessary, in the panel dock,
Using Layer Blend Modes
In the last section, by improving the gorilla, we might have made the man and baby too bright. In the Layers panel, along with the Levels adjustment we also have access to several other tools that allow us to make direct adjustments to the brightness and darkness.
At the top of the Layers panel is a drop down with a default setting of Normal:
This is the layer blend mode selector. Layer blend modes in Photoshop give us different ways to blend layers by changing how they interact with each other. With using layer blend modes, we can correct luminosity and also create special effects.
One example of a blend mode is the Soft Light blend mode. This blend mode allows us to gently lighten or darken our image. When we change a layer's blend mode to Soft Light, painting ares of it using a black Brush tool will darken it, while painting in areas with white will lighten it.
Step1. To create a new layer, at the bottom of the Layers panel,
Step2. To change the blend mode for the new layer, at the top of the Layers panel,
Click, Click Soft Light
Step3. To activate the Brush tool, in the Tools panel,
Step4. To soften the edges of our brush, in the Options bar,
Click, Press & Drag the Hardness slider to 20%
Step5. To change the brush size,
Double-Click, type: 350 Enter
Step6. To change the opacity of the brush, in the Opacity field of the Layers panel,
Press & Drag, type: 70 Enter
Step7. To ensure that the brush color is set to black, in the Swatches panel,
Click a black swatch
Step8. To darken the man and baby,
Press & Drag over the man and baby
Step9. To remove the effect, in the history panel, if necessary,
Click on a previous history state, then repeat step 8
Step10. Save the file.