Curves + Luminosity = Better Tones

In the last blog entry I mentioned some cool things you can find in the Curves dialog that help you adjust the tonal range of your image. Today I’m going to show you how to wreck the color in an image in the name of improving tonal range.

The Curves dialog has four channel options – you can work on the RGB composite channel (the default), or you can work on the separate R, G or B channels. Problem is that although adjusting the R, G or B channels independently can help you improve the tonal range of the image – it can also totally mess with the color. For this reason, few users bother working with the individual channels. Makes good sense? No!

You see working with individual channels is a good fix. If the Red or Green channel lack contrast you can hype it up using a curves adjustment. You’ll mess up the color but, if you’re using an Adjustment Layer, you can simply change the blend mode of the adjustment layer to Luminosity and immediately the messed up color disappears and the adjustment is limited to luminosity only. Instant fix.

So, next time you need to apply a Curves adjustment, check the channels in the Channels palette. If you see a channel that lacks contrast – adjust it to add contrast to it. Then set the blend mode of the adjustment layer to Luminosity to remove the color problems you just created.

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Helen Bradley

I am an expatriate Australian lifestyle writer, videographer and photographer. I write tutorials and produce videos on Photoshop, Lightroom and Illustrator as well as photography, office computer applications and DIY crafts. I have written for most of the big names in consumer tech including PC World, PC […]

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