Getting good a Photoshop, for me at least, when it comes to adjustments, is getting comfortable with the most powerful adjustment. The most powerful adjustment is curves, by far. But so many people are not comfortable with it because they never have good instruction in it and they never have time to practice that they don't get very good at it. Well, if you want to see the kind of change you can make once you actually practice enough that you're comfortable, let me show you what I did to this particular picture, which is of my wife, having to have her face down in the pavement. I do a series of photographs of my wife doing yoga around the world, if you want to see that series, it's called The World is My Yoga Mat, and it's on Instagram. You'd find pictures like this. But I'm gonna turn off a series of adjustments to show you what the original picture looked like after I was done in camera raw. Then, I wanted it to be quite different, so I ended up adjusting it, primarily using curves. ...
And this is what I was able to end up with. Let's just take a look at what's in there. I'm gonna turn off a bunch of adjustment layers. You'll find that every single adjustment layer is a curves adjustment layer. I'm gonna show you this mask as an overlay. I don't think we've done that yet, but if you ever have an adjustment layer that's active and it has a mask with some paint in it, on your keyboard right above the return or enter key will be the backslash key, and if you press it you'll get a colored overlay. Anything that's covered in red is what's not being affected by that adjustment. So, in this case, this adjustment affects the background, not my wife, Karen. I'm gonna turn on its eyeball, and let's see what it does to the image. All right, looks to me like it's adding contrast. Most of the time contrast is two dots, one for a bright part, one for a dark part. Make them further apart. Let's look at this curve and see if that happens to be the case. It is exactly two dots. If I were to hover my mouse over the dark portion of this picture, you would see a circle in curves. And it is exactly on top of a dot that was there to darken this picture. That dot was moved down to darken. Then I move my mouse on to the bright portion of the picture and it's very close to a dot that's already in there. That dot's been moved up the slightest bit to brighten, to make a bigger difference between the brightness of those two areas. The next curve up has the same mask. But that one, if I turn it on, makes the colors between those two areas look more different. Doesn't the lighter areas look more blueish when I'm done? Well that is most likely two dots, one for the bright area, one for the dark, in on the blue curve I bet ya I moved part of it up to make it more blue, do you see that? More blue. This one hasn't moved, so it didn't change the amount of blue in the dark areas. And I might have tweaked green or red, but I think it's primarily in the blue. Go to the next one up, turn on it's little overlay with the backslash key, anything covered with red will not be affected. So this is affecting my wife's skin. If I turn on the adjustment layer, do you see my wife's skin changed in color? That's because I didn't like the way it was looking. And often times what I do is I find another picture of a person, and I have hundreds of pictures of my wife doing yoga, so I just open up a bunch of references, and I can write down the RGB numbers for the skin I like, and shift her skin to that. The next one up affects only her feet. If I turn it on and off it's making her feet more colorful. It's making them closer in color to the color of her skin. Again, write down the numbers of the skin tone and change the area you want to have match it. The next one up is affecting just her head. If I turn on its eyeball, do you see it's adding contrast? That is two dots on a curve, one for the bright area, one for the dark, and the bright one was moved up. You can see it right there, just two dots. Then we have this one, which is working only on the dark pants. When it comes to black objects, you can cheat. And I changed the color of my wife's black pants. How the heck did I do it? Well all I did was, here I'll add a curves adjustment layer to show ya. You just click on the color that you're thinking of. Do you want to add more blue for instance? Move your mouse onto the brighter area of a black object and just pull up. And if you pull up, you should end up changing the amount, but in this case I actually have this, it's got a down pointing arrow it doesn't need, there. And we'll be able to change the color of a black object. You just need to leave the lower left dot alone, click on the main brightness of the image and move it up. If I came over here and did the same with let's say red, then we're gonna end up with instead of blue plants, kinda purple ones, but we can do that with black objects. But in the end, it's getting comfortable with two main adjustments, they are curves and hue and saturation. And I hope that I've started you down that path today.