I’ll be honest with you. Many photo editors work very quickly. They don’t get bogged down with trying to move sliders around in the most minute ways. They make big bold adjustments and then refine them as they go. One of the best methods for making a bold edit is to use Auto buttons when available. When you click on an Auto button, Photoshop decides what would look best for the scene based on an algorithm. Since the algorithm can’t tell what type of look you’re actually going for, further adjustments may be necessary. But really, taking advantage of an editing application’s automated correction feature can take a lot of work out of an edit.
In today’s very brief post, I’d like to follow up on what I shared yesterday. I’ll apply a Levels adjustment layer to an photograph of a fighter jet that looks like it needs some contrast. Within the Properties panel of the Levels adjustment, I’ll click on the Auto button to see how Adobe Photoshop would go about correcting the image. If I like the way it looks, I’ll leave it there. If I think it needs a bit more in the way of contrast or anything else, I’ll make those adjustments. This post is primarily meant to demonstrate how we, as editors, don’t need to start at the very beginning every single time we want to edit something. These applications we work in can save us a lot of time.
Today’s Demo Image
Here’s what I have for today. I’m sure a lot can be done with this, but all I’m concerned with right now is adding a bit of flavor in the way of contrast, lightness and darkness where it matters.
Applying a Levels Auto Adjustment
I’m going to follow all the same steps to add the Levels adjustment layer as I did in my previous post. If you aren’t familiar with these steps, please go ahead and read through that here. Ignore the fact that I used a video clip in the previous demonstration. The steps are the same, whether it’s a video or image.
I’ve gone ahead and added the adjustment layer. The new layer is in position and the Properties panel is open.
As you can see from the above screenshot, I circled the Auto button in red. This is the button I’ll be clicking on in just a moment. Before I do that though, I would like to point out the histogram in this panel. Notice how there’s some dead space on either side of it. If I had to guess, Photoshop is going to move the black and white sliders inward, towards the spots where the curves begin. Just a hunch. Now let’s see what happens after I push the button.
Just as I suspected, the black and white sliders changed position to the points of being near just where the curves begin. The center midtones slider also moved. This is the important one; you can push this gray slider to make the overall image lighter or darker. I’ll go ahead now and make a few additional adjustments with these sliders until I find something I like. At least I have a starting point. I’ll also make some adjustments with the individual colors in the RGB drop-down, just as I did in my previous post. Let’s see what I can come up with.
How does that look? Not bad considering I did all this with just one adjustment layer. I began with the Auto button and then worked my way through the remaining options. This is the way many editors make changes to their photographs. As I said above, this process can save a lot of time and give some extra confidence while making changes. If you have any questions regarding this post, please let me know in the comment section below or in the discussion forum. Thanks for reading!