Where on the Curve are you?

The Curve dialog in Photoshop hides some surprise features that aren’t immediately apparent at first glance. In Photoshop CS3 and later, one surprise is that you now have the adjusters under the chart that you’re used to using in the Levels dialog inside Curves. So it’s easy to perform a Levels adjustment in Curves – the reverse isn’t true – Levels can’t do a Curves adjustment. So I don’t use Levels for increasing tonal range in my images anymore – Curves does everything I need.

Second tool is the sampler. If you want to add contrast in a particular area of an image it helps if you can find that area on the curve. Simple. Just move across and hold the left mouse button as you wave your mouse pointer over the area of your image to sample. When you do this, you’ll see a marker move along the curve showing you where those pixels are in the curve. This is the area you want to steepen – the steeper the curve, the more contrast in that area. So pull the curve above the area you want to affect upwards and pull the curve below that area downwards to steepen the curve and you’ll get more contrast in that area of the image.

To add markers to the curve – Control + Click (Command + Click on the Mac) on a point in the image and you will add a marker on the curve indicating exactly where those pixels are to be found. You can use the marker to anchor the curve so it doesn’t move when you pull the curve above or below it or drag on the marker to change the shape of the curve at that point.

Categories:

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 […]

Topic Filter: Commercial / Landscape / Portrait / Stock / What's Hot

Related Tutorials

Interviews

Martin Lawrence

After many years as a keen amateur photographer, I decided to start a small landscape photography business called Lakescenes which I ran alongside my main job as an IT Manager. As business increased, I found myself working long, but rewarding, hours just to keep up […]

Read More

Rob Sheppard

Rob Sheppard is a naturalist, nature photographer and videographer who says his favorite location is the one he is in at any time. He is the author/photographer of over 40 books, as well as a well-known speaker and workshop leader, and a Fellow with the […]

Read More

Gary Hart

Gary Hart has photographed California’s natural beauty for over 30 years. Gary’s photos and writing have appeared in many publications, most recently Outdoor Photographer and Sierra Heritage magazines. You’ll also find his images in greeting cards, postcards, calendars, and many galleries and private collections throughout the world.

Read More

Jaroslav Wieczorkiewicz

Originally from Poland, based in London UK, Jaroslav has background in Fine Arts, degree in Architecture, and wide array of experience. Being an Architect taught him how to be resourceful and to solve complex problems with simple, yet innovative solutions. Constant passion for graphic & […]

Read More

What's Hot

Long exposures of the night sky

Next time you’re in the countryside at night do yourself a favour: look up. If it’s clear and conditions are right you’ll see a seemingly infinite number of stars twinkling like diamonds on a sheet of black velvet. As a visual pleasure it’s hard to […]

Read More

Dealing with Contrast

Contrast is usually at its highest when a scene is backlit. In this image there wasn’t much that could be done to lighten the shadows. I exposed so that the highlights weren’t too badly burnt out and didn’t worry too much about the shadows. Contrast […]

Read More

Black and White Portraits : Weekend Assignment

Colour can be distracting. Stripped of colour an image is entirely about the subject (unless of course the entire point of the subject is its colour…). This is particularly true of portraiture. Black and white arguably conveys the inner soul of the subject more powerfully […]

Read More