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Screen vs Levels to Lighten an Image?

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Old 07-02-2004, 07:52 PM
Patrick Cox Patrick Cox is offline
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Location: Kentucky, USA
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Question Screen vs Levels to Lighten an Image?

I am new to digital photography and digital image editing. I am using Photoshop Elements 2.0, along with Richard Lynch's "Hidden Powers" cd. My question relates to adjusting tone (lightness / darkness) in an image.

What is the "best" way to lighten an underexposed image? I have read about the following:

1. Creating a duplicate layer, changing the blend mode to "Screen" and adjusting the Opacity.

2. Creating a Levels Adjustment Layer and adjusting levels.

3. Creating a Curves Adjustment Layer. (I am a bit confused by curves.)

I have also read in Richard Lynch's book about splitting luminosity so you can adjust tone without impacting color (I believe), but I am not sure how to proceed after I split the luminosity. Do I simply add a levels or curves adjustment on top of the luminosity layer? Or some other procedure?

Thanks for your help!
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Old 07-02-2004, 08:34 PM
freelancer freelancer is offline
Join Date: Jun 2004
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I'm new also and have been searching, reading and learning this last month.

I haven't read that there's one perferred method, I think it depends on each photograph and its problems.

In addition to the methods you mentioned:

Create a new layer - overlay blending mode.
Use a low opacity brush.
Paint in white on selective areas to lighten.
Paint in black to darken.
Adjust layer opacity if needed.

As for selecting luminosity - Ctrl Alt ~
Ctrl J will paste it on a new layer.
Make that layer overlay and adjust opacity as necessary.

I'm sure there are many more ways... I'm still searching

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Old 07-02-2004, 09:49 PM
Xaran Xaran is offline
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Location: East Sussex, England
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Also try:

Create a curves adjustment layer - dont change curve at all just change blending mode to screen. This is easier on resources than a duplicate layer.

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Old 07-02-2004, 09:52 PM
Doug Nelson's Avatar
Doug Nelson Doug Nelson is offline
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Curves is the best (most controllable) method. There's a tutorial on this over in the tuts section. Levels is 2nd best for midtones, maybe even better for shadows and highlights, depending on preference. Blending modes and painting have their uses for dodging and burning, but avoid them for overall adjustments. Use adjustment levels whenever possible.

Curves is simply remapping an input level (horizontal axis) to a different output level (vertical axis). That's why it's so controllable.
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Old 07-03-2004, 12:46 PM
gmitchel gmitchel is offline
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Most people learn the basics of adjusting neutrals and colors with the Levels dialog. I suggest you start there.

You need to learn how to identify which features in an image should be neutral, how to set points so you can watch the changes of your adjustments, and how to make levels adjsutments with the individual channels as well as the master RGB channel. You should also experiment with the eyedroppers, for those times when an image does contain detail you're sure should be black, gray, or white.

The proceed to the Curves dialog. There will you will need to learn how to click on the image to see where the color is represented on one of the curves and how to adjust it.

Most pros use both Levels and Curves. They use Levels to set their white point and black point and also make a basic contrast adjustment with the gamma slider. Then they refine the contrast and brightness using Curves.

Blending modes are a lot more helpful than some of these replies indicate. If you image has severe contrast problems, you can use screen, multiply, or both together to fix contrast problems. Save that until you master levels and curves, though.


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