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Photographer
ArtisticGlamour
Posts: 3,846
Phoenix, Arizona, US


I just got back from a seminar this weekend, and they spent some time on Photoshop curves. I use Levels almost exclusively for exposure adjustments.

Do YOU use "curves" for your editing, and if so, in VERY simple english HOW are they better than Levels, or are they? I always seem to come back and have to "sort out" everything I learn at these damn things! LOL! Information overload!

smile

Thanks for any input!
Nov 12 12 09:50 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Kaouthia
Posts: 3,152
Lancaster, England, United Kingdom


I've been using curves for years.

Main advantage over levels, is that while both support all three colour channels, with levels, you've basically got 3 points you can modify.  Black level, mid level and white level.

Curves lets you add a whole bunch of points (I think up to 8), so you can adjust the shadows differently to the midtones differently to the highlights, as well as your black & white adjustment points, and you can do this for each of the different colour channels.

So, I could bump the shadows up and leave the highlights exactly where they are, and still have true black in the scene (which would be near impossible with just levels, as nudging the midtone slider to increase the brightness of the shadows also creates the brightness of the highlights too).

It just gives you a lot more control than with just using levels.

Photoshop also gives you the ability to export curves presets that you can then load into After Effects, so you can export a frame from AE, get really nice fine control over your white balance, contrast, toning, etc. in Photoshop, export out the curves preset, and bring it into After Effects and apply it to the whole sequence.  So, very handy if you're doing video too.
Nov 12 12 09:56 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
L A U B E N H E I M E R
Posts: 8,388
Seattle, Washington, US


i use raw files with lightroom.

http://www.sydweedon.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/Lightroom3AdjustmentPanel.jpg
Nov 12 12 10:01 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Motordrive Photography
Posts: 2,377
Lodi, California, US


I use both, levels for speed and curves for precision.
example, is matching clothes, I use the info palette and wright the numbers
down and change those rgb values to match and mask appropriately.
Nov 12 12 10:06 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Warren Leimbach
Posts: 2,557
Tampa, Florida, US


I find myself using Curves more and more.

But really they are just presenting the same data in a different way. You can achieve many of the same results either way.  (Example boosting the midtone brightness in Levels vs boosting the midtone brightness with Curves.) 

So as long you are able to visualize what the data means and what a particular adjustment is doing for your image, then use whatever makes you comfortable.

Levels is very good for setting black and white endpoints.

Curves is very good for making complex changes - solarizing (multiple high low points), inverted "U" shapes, etc.

The real power is in the masks.

Have fun.
Nov 12 12 10:10 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Kaouthia
Posts: 3,152
Lancaster, England, United Kingdom


Mark Laubenheimer wrote:
i use raw files with lightroom.

Lightroom/ACR has curves adjustments too ya know. smile

Nov 12 12 10:13 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Ruben Vasquez
Posts: 3,090
Puyallup, Washington, US


I use curves almost exclusively as I find that they're much more flexible and powerful.

Everything you can do in levels, you can do in curves. The same can't be said of the opposite.
With levels, you only have five points of control per channel. With curves, you have 16.
Dragging the endpoint sliders in is the equivalent to dragging the endpoints in with curves which increases contrast but clips the shadows and/or highlights. dragging the output sliders in levels is the equivalent of dragging the endpoints up or down with curves which decreases contrast. Adjusting gamma is akin to adjusting the center point in curves.

Among the most common uses of curves is to increase contrast with an "S" curve which can be done at pretty much any tonal range (quarter tones, midtones, three quarter tones, etc). At best, you can produce a "Z" curve in levels but you'll clip your highlights and/or shadows.

Another major advantage curves has is that you can color correct an image. Anything in the image that is supposed to be black, white or any shade of grey in between can be neutralized to exactly that with curves or in other words, the red, green and blue channels can all be made to equal one another at any tonal point. Moreover, you can add or subtract colors at any tonal point. Have a blue cast in the shadows you want to get rid of? Select the blue channel and lower the affected tones, add additional anchor points for tones you don't want to affect.

You get a whole world of possibilites with curves that you just don't get with levels.
Nov 12 12 10:13 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
ArtisticGlamour
Posts: 3,846
Phoenix, Arizona, US


Kaouthia wrote:
Curves lets you add a whole bunch of points (I think up to 8), so you can adjust the shadows differently to the midtones differently to the highlights, as well as your black & white adjustment points, and you can do this for each of the different colour channels.

Ahhhhhhh! Excellent! That makes GOOD sense! lol Thank you!

Nov 12 12 10:14 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
ArtisticGlamour
Posts: 3,846
Phoenix, Arizona, US


Ruben Vasquez wrote:
Among the most common uses of curves is to increase contrast with an "S" curve which can be done at pretty much any tonal range (quarter tones, midtones, three quarter tones, etc). At best, you can produce a "Z" curve in levels but you'll clip your highlights and/or shadows.

Another major advantage curves has is that you can color correct an image. Anything in the image that is supposed to be black, white or any shade of grey in between can be neutralized to exactly that with curves or in other words, the red, green and blue channels can all be made to equal one another at any tonal point. Moreover, you can add or subtract colors at any tonal point. Have a blue cast in the shadows you want to get rid of? Select the blue channel and lower the affected tones, add additional anchor points for tones you don't want to affect.

I'm sold! They just skipped across the top of all this at the seminar!
Much appreciated folks! Time to learn curves, and all advice and opinions are welcome!

Nov 12 12 10:18 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Colorblinded
Posts: 647
Rochester, New York, US


Curves pretty much exclusively.  I do as much as possible within my RAW conversion software (traditionally Capture One, some LR 4.x now as well).
Nov 12 12 10:18 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
D M E C K E R T
Posts: 4,786
Las Vegas, Nevada, US


all of the above.

why limit options if sometimes they get you where you want to be?
Nov 12 12 10:23 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Chuckarelei
Posts: 9,276
Seattle, Washington, US


I love curves.
Nov 12 12 10:24 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Don Garrett
Posts: 4,262
Escondido, California, US


I use both, but the explanation is very long. I'll just hit a couple of highlights. Curves redistributes tonality, and can lengthen the tonal RANGE. The problem is, with curves, one quickly "runs out of space" on the two ends of the histogram. It takes a fair amount of technique, and some time, to set up for an effective curves adjustment. The tone information from a single RAW conversion is insufficient to accomplish this set up. I ALWAYS convert every RAW image three times, one with the exposure slider left alone, and two with the exposure slider set to the two opposite extremes, ("over", and "underexposed" by two stops each). When one has created a single image, with all of the tonal information bunched up in the middle of the histogram, (a flat image), there is plenty of room to make curves tone adjustments in both directions. Of course, the image straight out of the camera is necessary to complete the image, and the final product should have one, or a handful of pure white pixels, and one or a handful of pure black pixels, (but NO clumps of either).
  The end result is a single image that spans the whole range, (0 to 255), has NO  haziness, better shadow detail, and more "body" and apparent detail in the highlit areas, AND shows MUCH more "local contrast".
  I also use the program, Photomatix in this process. Curves is a very important, pivotal part of the process, but only a fraction of the whole story.
-Don
Nov 12 12 10:27 am  Link  Quote 
Retoucher
Kristiana-Retouch
Posts: 289
London, England, United Kingdom


I use both - depends on what needs to be done, but again - if I had to choose I would stick with curves. Just personal preference
Cheers wink
Nov 12 12 10:31 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Image Magik
Posts: 1,067
New Orleans, Louisiana, US


I do 80/20 curves/levels. For some things curves is just overkill and they don't quite work the same. Do this test. Put a curves layer as your top layer in photoshop and hit auto adjust on the curves adjustment box. Turn that layer off and now create a levels layer as your top layer in photoshop and us auto adjust on it's adjustment box.
Now toggle between the auto adjusted curves layer and levels layer and you will see they do not look exactly the same. Sometimes the levels auto adjust looks better.
Nov 12 12 10:40 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Marty McBride
Posts: 3,132
Owensboro, Kentucky, US


I use levels and hue/saturation only...and it probably shows! tongue
Nov 12 12 11:13 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
fine art nudes by paul
Posts: 3,276
Berkeley, California, US


I use curves so frequently, I've pretty much forgotten how to use levels.  I can do everything in curves that I'd be able to do in levels, and more.
Nov 12 12 01:21 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
ACPhotography
Posts: 8,608
Plainview, New York, US


Kaouthia wrote:

Lightroom/ACR has curves adjustments too ya know. smile

Lacks blending modes and opacity... I use curves in Luminosity a lot for contrast...

Nov 12 12 01:41 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Kaouthia
Posts: 3,152
Lancaster, England, United Kingdom


ACPhotography wrote:
Lacks blending modes and opacity... I use curves in Luminosity a lot for contrast...

I know, it wasn't an argument for LR over Photoshop, but he said he said he used LR (implying he doesn't use either levels or curves), and I replied before he actually posted the screenshot showing the curve in there. smile

I'm the same btw, using it as a "Normal" adjustment layer tends to screw around with the saturation too much.

Nov 12 12 01:59 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
ArtisticGlamour
Posts: 3,846
Phoenix, Arizona, US


Don Garrett wrote:
I use both, but the explanation is very long. I'll just hit a couple of highlights. Curves redistributes tonality, and can lengthen the tonal RANGE. The problem is, with curves, one quickly "runs out of space" on the two ends of the histogram. It takes a fair amount of technique, and some time, to set up for an effective curves adjustment. The tone information from a single RAW conversion is insufficient to accomplish this set up. I ALWAYS convert every RAW image three times, one with the exposure slider left alone, and two with the exposure slider set to the two opposite extremes, ("over", and "underexposed" by two stops each). When one has created a single image, with all of the tonal information bunched up in the middle of the histogram, (a flat image), there is plenty of room to make curves tone adjustments in both directions. Of course, the image straight out of the camera is necessary to complete the image, and the final product should have one, or a handful of pure white pixels, and one or a handful of pure black pixels, (but NO clumps of either).
  The end result is a single image that spans the whole range, (0 to 255), has NO  haziness, better shadow detail, and more "body" and apparent detail in the highlit areas, AND shows MUCH more "local contrast".
  I also use the program, Photomatix in this process. Curves is a very important, pivotal part of the process, but only a fraction of the whole story.

Great post Don! Good stuff! All good info on this thread! smile

Nov 12 12 03:37 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Don Garrett
Posts: 4,262
Escondido, California, US


ArtisticGlamour wrote:
Great post Don! Good stuff! All good info on this thread! smile

Thanks, but, Unfortunately there is a lot more to the story than this. What I was hoping for is that I stimulated some investigation into the secrets of Photoshop, and how to use the tools there to uncover them. It took me years, and the program Photomatix, to get the control I was looking for.
  The problem was getting the desired amount of shadow and highlight details, (different in each image), along with LOTS of "local contrast", and a "punchy looking image" - all at the same time.
-Don

Nov 12 12 03:56 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
JAE
Posts: 2,083
West Chester, Pennsylvania, US


I mostly use levels.  Curves I use sometimes but it is a lot more complicated compared to levels.  I am slowly learning how to do more cool stuff using curves and hope to use it most of the time in the future. Curves are less http://assets.modelmayhem.com/images/smilies/scary.pngthe more I play with them smile
Nov 12 12 04:04 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Mike Kirwan Photography
Posts: 573
Walnut Creek, California, US


Curves are very useful, but when combined with a mask is a very powerful tool. You can either add or reduce contrast in selected areas, bring down highlights or open up shadows.

My workflow for this technique is to use the little finger tool (cannot remember the tool name but it's the top tool in the layers panel). Work on the areas I want to manipulate, say increase mid-range shadow contrast, then fill the Layer Adjustment with Black, and with a white brush set to a fairly low opacity and flow, paint in the correction until you have the look you need. Non destructive and works like a charm.

MK
Nov 12 12 04:09 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Toto Photo
Posts: 2,436
Belmont, California, US


Because of all the positive press (e.g. "Curves is powerful") I've tried repeatedly to master curves and failed each time. I suppose I'll have to go to lynda.com or youtube to take some tutorials, but until I can make the time to do that, I'll have to continue to use levels.
Nov 12 12 04:12 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Kaouthia
Posts: 3,152
Lancaster, England, United Kingdom


JAE Photography PA wrote:
Curves I use sometimes but it is a lot more complicated compared to levels.

It can be, but it doesn't have to be.  At its simplest it works exactly like levels.

You move the bottom left of the line across to the right to set your black point, you move the top right of the line across to the left to set your white point, then you create a point on the center and move it up and down to set your midpoint.

That's pretty much exactly what a levels adjustment does.

Nov 12 12 04:25 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Don Garrett
Posts: 4,262
Escondido, California, US


Toto Photo wrote:
Because of all the positive press (e.g. "Curves is powerful") I've tried repeatedly to master curves and failed each time. I suppose I'll have to go to lynda.com or youtube to take some tutorials, but until I can make the time to do that, I'll have to continue to use levels.

You'll have to try it, but the basic thing you have to understand about curves is that the diagonal line through the box, represents the total tonal range of your image, the top right hand corner represents white, (255), and the bottom left hand corner represents black, (0). Every point in between represents the rest of the values, getting brighter as one goes toward the top, and darker as one goes toward the bottom. If one moves any point up, that value gets brighter, if one moves any point down, the value that corresponds to that point gets darker. I use MANY "push points", and keep the curve very smooth, and continuous, otherwise, the image gets "posterization", or worse ! Like I said in my previous post, setting up for a curves adjustment gives you the room to make aggressive adjustments in either direction, without spiking up the right or left hand side of the histogram, creating large areas of pure black, and/or large areas of pure white. The rest depends on what you hope to accomplish, regarding tonal distribution, and could take a lot of time and experimentation to get everything under control to your satisfaction.
  I hope this helps, now the fun begins !
-Don

Nov 12 12 04:35 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Stephen Dawson
Posts: 29,246
Toronto, Ontario, Canada


I tweak exposure in camera RAW which is pretty much Levels.

Within Photoshop I use Curves. There are a dozen techniques I use often.

A simple one, to give you a taste of the power of curves is:

Click on point (2,2) to lock it.
Drag point (3,3) slightly up and left.

This increases contrast. An essential tool for greyscale conversion.
Nov 12 12 04:52 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
ArtisticGlamour
Posts: 3,846
Phoenix, Arizona, US


I'm LOVING this thread! smile
Nov 12 12 05:21 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Toto Photo
Posts: 2,436
Belmont, California, US


Don Garrett wrote:

You'll have to try it, but the basic thing you have to understand about curves is that the diagonal line through the box, represents the total tonal range of your image, the top right hand corner represents white, (255), and the bottom left hand corner represents black, (0). Every point in between represents the rest of the values, getting brighter as one goes toward the top, and darker as one goes toward the bottom. If one moves any point up, that value gets brighter, if one moves any point down, the value that corresponds to that point gets darker. I use MANY "push points", and keep the curve very smooth, and continuous, otherwise, the image gets "posterization", or worse ! Like I said in my previous post, setting up for a curves adjustment gives you the room to make aggressive adjustments in either direction, without spiking up the right or left hand side of the histogram, creating large areas of pure black, and/or large areas of pure white. The rest depends on what you hope to accomplish, regarding tonal distribution, and could take a lot of time and experimentation to get everything under control to your satisfaction.
  I hope this helps, now the fun begins !
-Don

Appreciate the info, don't want to hijack the thread, but just to show how lost I am, I find it difficult to know what is changing, is it a single luminance value because it sure seems like values up and down the chain are changing. Are you saying, if I've selected a luminance value of 137 (on a scale of 0-255) and I'm on the RGB screen, that every luminance value of red 137, every one of blue 137 and every one of green 137 gets changed and only that (137) luminance value changes?

Or to put it another way, I've bolded the terms nobody has been able to dumb down enough for me to get through my thick skull.

Nov 12 12 05:22 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Kaouthia
Posts: 3,152
Lancaster, England, United Kingdom


Toto Photo wrote:
that every luminance value of red 137, every one of blue 137 and every one of green 137 gets changed and only that (137) luminance value changes?

It's the overall luminance value of the pixel.

If you load an image and just completely desaturate it, that's the luminance value of each pixel in your image.  That's what it's looking at and affecting when you just do an overall adjustment of the combined histogram ("combined" meaning, all three RGB channels lumped together, not adjusting a single channel).

However, when you have your layer blending mode set to "Normal", just like increasing and decreasing light levels or exposure, it will decrease or increase your saturation as you make it brighter or darker.

If you set the layer blending mode to Luminosity, it will only affect the brightness level without touching the saturation.

Neither is an "always use this mode" way.  I tend to use Luminosity 99% of the time, but occasionally just having it as in Normal mode works fine.

Nov 12 12 05:36 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Max Works
Posts: 111
London, England, United Kingdom


Kaouthia wrote:

It's the overall luminance value of the pixel.

If you load an image and just completely desaturate it, that's the luminance value of each pixel in your image.  That's what it's looking at and affecting when you just do an overall adjustment of the combined histogram ("combined" meaning, all three RGB channels lumped together, not adjusting a single channel).

However, when you have your layer blending mode set to "Normal", just like increasing and decreasing light levels or exposure, it will decrease or increase your saturation as you make it brighter or darker.

If you set the layer blending mode to Luminosity, it will only affect the brightness level without touching the saturation.

Neither is an "always use this mode" way.  I tend to use Luminosity 99% of the time, but occasionally just having it as in Normal mode works fine.

One of the best tips I've ever read! Thanks! Just look at these two images - the first without curves correction, the second with curve correction on the green layer in luminosity mode - even in lo-res the difference is subtle but palpable. Thanks smile

http://www.modelmayhem.com/portfolio/pic/30587899

http://www.modelmayhem.com/portfolio/pic/30616966

Nov 12 12 06:07 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
TMA Photo and Retouch
Posts: 709
New York, New York, US


I use levels early in the retouching workflow to selectively bring up the black levels in a linear kind of way...But then... I mostly use curves to do painting with light, skin color corrections, and especially high-end digital makeup.  I can transparently create any color you can imagine with just curves...they give me absolute visual control in an image.

Its curves and their ability to create total control...applied selectively and creatively... that allow you to create high-end retouching that retains the original images detail and integrity... and the ability to non-destructively go back and make any corrections or adjustments without penalty.  Almost everything I do in a beauty retouch is based on curves.  Levels does have a slight edge for me in the way that it can be used to open up shadows and get at some of the detail that is often lost in the shadows.  But Curves... used in an Adjustment Layer setting... thats where the visual power is!
Nov 12 12 06:15 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
L A U B E N H E I M E R
Posts: 8,388
Seattle, Washington, US


TMA Photo and Retouch wrote:
I use levels to bring up the black levels in a linear kind of way...and then I use curves to do painting with light, skin color correction, and high-end digital makeup.

Its curves that are applied selectively that allow you to have high-end non-destructive quality.

what does that mean? hmm

Nov 12 12 06:29 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Gulag
Posts: 1,222
Duluth, Georgia, US


Curves allows you to place up to 14 points for finer adjustment control while Levels gives you much quicker global adjustments. I use both all the time.
Nov 12 12 06:32 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
TMA Photo and Retouch
Posts: 709
New York, New York, US


Im answering Mark above.

Hi Mark,  not totally sure what your question applies to...but I think maybe you might have highlighted the words high end...so ill answer that aspect of it.

High end results are obtained by the use of Curves Adjustment Layers.  In regular retouching...the actual image is written upon...and the actual pixels are changed...and the changes are embedded into the original image itself.  Sometimes retouching efforts like this permanently replace the original pixels and change or destroy these original pixels forever!  (Working on the original image itself directly is called destructive retouching.)  Heaven help you if you change your mind in this case and want to go back and make changes!  You can end up further destroying original picture pixels...as well as wasting 30 minutes and going backwards 10 steps.

With Curve Adjustment Layers...you do not actually change the original image itself...you just change the way that layer is visually interpreted.  So the original image detail and integrity is maintained. You don't actually change any original image pixels.  If you want to make any changes you simply adjust the "adjustment layer" above the original image...and you immediately see the changes you wanted...BUT...the original pixels have never been touched or changed. This kind of "non-destructive" Curve based retouching creates some really big advantages...especially if you are in a high-end, fast-paced, commercial setting.

So...professional retouchers, magazine houses, and publishers often use Curve Based Adjustment Layers Workflows to maintain original image integrity, and to gain strong visual control, and to achieve a look that is mostly transparent in its effects.  They keep the ability to change anything later on... or the ability to re-blend the image, or better balance the final image...and they have not opaquely covered up or destroyed any fine details in the process...so... their images look crisp, transparent, clean, and real.  Any retouches you made in this mode...are completely adjustable at all times.

Professionals and high-end houses often require techniques that are visually powerful, realistic looking, totally blendable, transparent, and as totally adjustable as possible.  Curves...used as an adjustment layer...gives them just that!    Many newer Photoshop users are not yet comfortable with what curves are... or how to best use them...but the high-end users find them to be one of their most powerful tools.

Im a teacher type, Mark...so apologies if im a bit long here.  From your original question I didnt know how much background you wanted.  I enjoy your beauty work and your port...hope this helps some.   

OP, once you get past the curves "scare factor"...and the curves "yawn factor"..they can be absolutely amazing tools in your kit!  Stick with it.
Nov 12 12 07:42 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Kaouthia
Posts: 3,152
Lancaster, England, United Kingdom


TMA Photo and Retouch wrote:
High end results are obtained by the use of Curves Adjustment Layers.  In regular retouching...the actual image is written upon...and the actual pixels are changed...and the changes are embedded into the original image itself.

Yeah, that's just "non destructive editing", not "high end retouching".

Non destructive editing can still be done badly. smile

Nov 12 12 08:20 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
TMA Photo and Retouch
Posts: 709
New York, New York, US


I agree.  Throwing around a few well placed curves does not necessarily make a good retouch!

Retouching is a combination of good technical and usage skills... and artistic and judgement skills...together.  Its a left brained and right brained skill set.  You have to do both sides of the equation equally well at the same time.  If you are not mature in both elements...your end result will not be as good as it needs to be.  We are all learning at something.

Its very tough to be balanced and good...it takes a lot of time and practice... just like any other worthy endeavor like playing a stringed instrument...or getting exposure, lighting, and posing just perfect in an image. 

Everybody is at a different stage of development and skill...there is always someone ahead of you... and someone behind you in the journey.  Its the life-long learners and those that take joy in experimenting and in new things that may have a potential edge.
Nov 12 12 09:29 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Don Garrett
Posts: 4,262
Escondido, California, US


Toto Photo wrote:

Appreciate the info, don't want to hijack the thread, but just to show how lost I am, I find it difficult to know what is changing, is it a single luminance value because it sure seems like values up and down the chain are changing. Are you saying, if I've selected a luminance value of 137 (on a scale of 0-255) and I'm on the RGB screen, that every luminance value of red 137, every one of blue 137 and every one of green 137 gets changed and only that (137) luminance value changes?

Or to put it another way, I've bolded the terms nobody has been able to dumb down enough for me to get through my thick skull.

I see that some answers have already come in on this point, but I have my own way of saying it, so I will. One CANNOT change just one value with curves, as the very nature of the tool "pulls" other values along with it. It would be impossible, (I think), to move just one point, without moving several along with it. Even when you have anchor points on both sides of the point you are moving, the curved line on the other side of the anchor point moves, as if the points are acting as fulcrums. The important thing is, that the curve be smooth, and have a purpose. The redistribution of tonality in an image is to give the image more contrast in any local area, and the end result should be an increase in the number of tones, and show better detail in the shadows and highlights, or the tools are not being used to their potential.
  The reason I set up for the curves adjustment with more than one conversion from the RAW, is so I have the room on the histogram to make the changes I desire before I spike the right or left side of the histogram, (make clump(s) of pure white, or pure black pixels). Absolute control of the tonality, an increase in the number of tones, better shadows and highlights, and much more local contrast, are all possible with understanding and "proper" use of the tools.
-Don

Nov 12 12 10:22 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
WMcK
Posts: 5,250
Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom


Curves allow you to increase the brightness and "roll off" the whites to hold detail there, where levels would just clip them, losing that detail. Curves used properly can give a similar effect to the "S" curve of film, increasing the dynamic range by compressing it to fit into the available space.
Nov 13 12 03:14 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
ArtisticGlamour
Posts: 3,846
Phoenix, Arizona, US


Toto Photo wrote:
Appreciate the info, don't want to hijack the thread, but just to show how lost I am, I find it difficult to know what is changing, is it a single luminance value because it sure seems like values up and down the chain are changing.

Toto, don't worry about that! ALL questions and responses are welcome. I am just as uneducated about curves as you, probably more. All questions and explanations are welcome!

TMA Photo and Retouch wrote:
OP, once you get past the curves "scare factor"...and the curves "yawn factor"..they can be absolutely amazing tools in your kit!  Stick with it.

Will do! This thread has given me lots of new ideas, and reminded me of a few others. Great responses! All ideas and responses are welcome, even if they are "out of the box". Creative solutions have no limits! wink

Nov 13 12 05:25 am  Link  Quote 
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