How To Adjust Images
We're gonna start off now talking about making adjustments to a photograph, which means, could mean almost anything but is typically changing something, whether it's color, brightness, contrast, something of that nature. And I'm going to approach this in a couple of different ways. First of all, we talked previously about the importance of raw, meaning either Camera Raw or Lightroom, and I'm gonna suggest to you that ultimately if you're starting with a raw file, I would do as much adjusting as you possibly can in that area, so either in Raw or Lightroom. Because frankly, for global adjusting, it's just easier. So we'll get to that in a second, but you can always also do it in Photoshop, and if you're starting with a JPEG, although it is possible to open a JPEG and kind of force it to open in Raw, and do it there, you don't have quite the same control. But some people still like doing that just because they like the ease of use of the sliders. We've talked about this initially, very be...
ginning I was talking about the whole concept of working non-destructively, want to kind of review this for a second. I'm going to first of all, I think it'll work better if I use my Image Size command, and make this image a little smaller so it'll be easier for you see the effect. Okay, so as we talked about earlier and I want to go over it again to stress the importance of why adjustment layers are a better way to go, is if you use these adjustments, under here, then anything you do is very permanent, meaning it's not easy to change your mind. So I'll just make whatever change I want, I go into Vibrance, say I'm gonna lower the saturation of this to make it less colorful. Click OK. The problem is I've now changed the pixels of the background layer to look that way, and if I save it and move on, of course that's my new photograph and I hope I have a backup version because otherwise I've permanently changed these pixels, and that's the way they look. And unfortunately if I go back and try and do something like Vibrance again and push it back up, I can kind of get it back, but it'll never come right back the way it was. So it's not like you can just sort of undo something by changing the settings. It's even more obvious if we do something like the one I showed you earlier, which was Levels. Levels is a really nice command, very simple to use, but if you overdo something and then click OK, coming back to Levels is going to give you not much to work with. So, just to review why this is not the best plan. So instead I would recommend that we are gonna use one of two different methods. The first one is adjustment layers. The second one we'll talk about later on when we talk about smart filters. So the idea of an adjustment layer, it's still effectively almost all the same adjustments. There's only one or two that aren't available as adjustment layers, but they're not ones we worry about all that much. So, for example, Vibrance. Same settings. I can still make some change, but as we talked about before, there is no OK button, so I'm not actually applying it, I'm just saying leave it that way. Excuse me. So, I leave it, go off and do other work. If I decide later on I want to change my mind I can either hide it, because it is like a regular layer in that respect, or I could double-click on it and get back and say, actually I really want it more like it was before, or whatever, so that's the principle of adjustment layers, is that making it this way so you have this ability to change your mind. The other nice thing about adjustment layer is if you have made some result, say you have 15 photographs that are all very similar, and you add an adjustment layer tweak, and go, I really like that look, I'd like it to be the same on these other photographs. You can drag an adjustment layer just like anything else from one document to another, and it automatically will be applied to that other image. So from a consistency standpoint, that works really nicely as well. The thing we have to remember, and we talked just a little while ago about making selections. I reminded you that when you first open a photograph, even though I didn't select anything, that really means everything is selected, which is that weird kind of counterintuitive thing where with no pixels selected, it actually is all active, which is why when I added the adjustment layer, it affected everything. So for example let's say I wanted to change the color of her jacket here, this whatever that kind of purple is. Well I could add an adjustment layer called Hue/Saturation and start trying to change it, but you see the problem is it's changing everything. Because every pixel was active. So what would be a better plan would be to first make a selection. So, as I often do, start with the quick selection tool. Kind of drag around, make my brush a little smaller perhaps. It's not gonna be a perfect selection but it'll give me a decent start. Hold down the Option or Alt key to remove from the selection, so we're implementing some of the methods that we used before. And to begin with I'm gonna say that's okay to start. Now, when I add the same adjustment layer, the rules have changed because when it sees an adjustment or a selection, it makes a mask automatically. So now if I change anything, see how it's only changing that area because it's got a mask on it. So technically the overall photograph is being adjusted, but I've hidden all of it except for that one area. So if you only want to adjust one small area you'll end up with a layer mask that looks like that with a whole bunch of black and a little bit of white. If I wanted the opposite, of course to have everything else adjusted except her jacket, the mask would be the other way around. So, when we talked before about layer masks this is one of the most common ways for me of implementing it is to make a nice accurate selection, add an adjustment layer and know that it automatically makes the mask. But again, the beauty of how all this works, this actually looks not bad, but if let's say for the sake of argument I felt like I'd missed a bit. There's still a mask here so I can still paint with black and white to adjust it. So the mask is generated automatically, but it's certainly not final. So if you're working on it and realize that maybe I also want her pants to be adjusted, so I go to my paint brush tool, and check I've got a ginormous brush from what I was playing around with before. That's one of the things we have to remember is that Photoshop has a long memory. Now, so I want to reveal the effects of the adjustment layer on her pants, which means I have to think about, what color should I be painting with? And the answer in this case would be white, because remember white reveals. So right now I look at my colors, and I have black and gray. So neither of them are white. I didn't talk about this before when talking about colors, but here is a simple way if you ever want to get back to just good old black and white, there's a little tiny button here, I'll see if I can zoom in so you can see this. It's hard to get down in this corner, but see that little button right there? That's saying put it back to default, so when I click on it, it goes back to black and white, and then if I click this little double headed arrow it swaps it back and forth, so in this case now white is my foreground color, so wherever I paint, I'll be painting, hold on a second, forgot to check one other thing. My opacity is too low, put the opacity back up to 100. There we go, and now maybe a smaller brush and wherever I paint with white I'll be revealing the effect, so in effect it's like you're saying paint in the adjustment layer, and we'll see techniques in a moment where this can be an interesting method as well to do it by hand, paint wherever you want it. I could also in this case have made a selection and filled it with white. It's the same end result. Remember, getting paint on the layer mask, it doesn't matter how you get it there, it's ultimately white reveals, black conceals, whether you paint with a paint brush or fill a selection, or however you do it, that doesn't matter. It's just the fact that when you look at the layer mask, you see this. Now you can see, my opacity was still too low because it's gray, not white, which in this case by accident kind of worked okay, but if I didn't want that I would have had to make sure my opacity was all the way up to 100%, okay? So, anytime we're working with adjustment layers, these are the couple things you need to remember. Now I'm gonna go and open another photo I should have copied, I think it's in here. Nope, it's in here. All right well it must be in here then, here we go. Remember this photo, it's got a bunch of layers in it. So the way adjustment layers work is where you position it in the Layers panel when you have multiple layers will influence how much it affects. By nature, adjustment layers affect every single layer below. So if I put the adjustment layer at the very top, and just to make it obvious, I'll use, let's do black and white. Now you see it's converted everything to black and white because I put it at the very top. And that's fine if that's what I want to have happen. But if that's not what you want to have happen, if you wanted for example only the very background layer to be affected, then you would click there first. Now, when I add the adjustment layer, it will only affect that layer. So where you position it in the Layers panel has an important impact on how it works. Just remember by default, if you don't do anything else, adjustment layers will automatically affect every single layer below wherever you position it. So if it's halfway up the layer stack, all the layers below that will be affected. It's at the very top, all of them will be affected. Now there is a way to change that. Let's see, the best way to show you this. Okay, so, let's say for the sake of argument that I only actually want, let me hide this for a second, I only want this layer, the closeup of her, that's the only layer I want to be black and white. Well right now if I move it on top of that layer, you'll see that again it's affecting all the layers below. So somehow I have to tell Photoshop, stop doing that, only affect the one layer immediately below it, and there's a little click you have to make for that to happen. The simplest way to do it is when you go back to the settings for whatever your adjustment is. See this button right here? This one, the very first one. This is, creates something that technically is called a clipping mask but really all it means is now only affect the layer immediately below. So when I click on that, see how now just this one layer, if I collapse this up you can see, if you look closely at what's happening, see how the adjustment layer looks kind of like it's indented, and there's a little arrow? That's showing you visually this adjustment layer only affects the one layer immediately below it. So this is one of the more effective ways if you've got multiple layers, and you want to say, I want to just adjust this one layer, not everything, this is the easiest way to do it. I could also have tried to make a mask but in this case it's unnecessary because I'm trying to say affect everything on this one layer. I don't care about masking anything but that would be another possibility of course. So anytime you are looking at a document that maybe you created a long time ago, or someone else created and you're trying to do that reverse engineering, if you see that little adjustment layer symbol with a white mask, you're like, well how is it only affecting one area? That's why, because of this little indication that you clipped it, as it's called, to only do one layer below. One of the really interesting things about adjustment layers is you can add as many of the same adjustment layer as you want, so in this document in theory I could add five black and white adjustment layers, each clipped to its own layer, and adjust them independently if I wanted to. Not that common, but you can. Because some people think, well I've already added a X adjustment layer, now I can't add another one. Well actually you can, you can add as many of the same one as you want, because they're gonna each add independently. If you had just one photo like we were working on before, and you add multiple different adjustment layers, they'll cumulatively affect that underneath layer, so they're not like one or the other. You could say I want to do Hue/Saturation and Photo Filter and something else, and see what that does to the underlying layer, that's fine too, okay? So adjustment layers, very powerful, and I'll show you a method here in a moment if I get back to my other images. I'll use this one. So you may recall, and if you don't I will remind you, that early on I was talking about tools that you should not have to worry about. I included in that dodge and burn. The dodge and burn tools are, well they're okay, they're pretty darn destructive because you're darkening and lightening selectively but then you don't have a lot of room to go back. So here is an alternative choice which I like because it gives me the effect that I want but it's even more, I have even more control over it and it's very flexible. And it's going to involve adjustment layers and masks that are associated with them. So I'm gonna add an adjustment layer. Now I could use Levels or Curves. I'm gonna use Curves in this case just to show, excuse me, an example of how this works. I'll just pull this down so we can see. And I'm gonna take this layer, and move this middle part up so it lightens everything. Now one of the advantages of this concept of working non-destructively is, remember our principle of, I want to end up with some result. So one of the things I see people do all the time, and they're making their life more difficult than it needs to be, is they want to ultimately make a subtle difference, so they take an adjustment layer and they move it like a hair. Then they try and mask it but the difference between the original and the new one is so subtle that they're going, this is really hard to mask because I can't really see it. I'm like, well then make it easier to see. Over-adjust it initially, knowing you can always lower it later. Okay, so that's kind of the principle you'll see a lot in these functions is, make it easier to see. Go overboard, because this is an adjustment layer. Now you couldn't do this if you went Image, Adjustments, but because we're doing adjustment layers, I can. So I very often deliberately, whatever it is, over-brighten, over-darken, over-saturate, some change so it's so dramatic that you can really see it. So here as I'm gonna like really go overboard. It's overly bright to the whole image. Then I take the layer mask which is revealing everything, and I invert it, Command or Control + I, which means I now have a brightening adjustment layer that's completely hidden. So this is a multi-step process, okay so stick with me. Because at first you're like, so wait you just brightened the whole thing and then hid everything? If I stop now, that would be bad because it'd be pointless, but I've got a ways to go. Just for the sake of ease I'm gonna call this Brighten, of course I could also call it Dodge. Then I add a second adjustment layer, can also be Curves. Take this one, and darken dramatically. Take this mask and invert it, and call this Darken. Like that. Now got my paintbrush, let's say, first of all let's talk about the areas that I want to brighten up a little bit, like maybe this tree over here. So I take my paintbrush, get my opacity set, probably want a slightly bigger brush. Something like that, maybe even bigger than that, and as long as white is my foreground color, think about the way a mask works. Black hides, white reveals. So, if I start painting with white on the mask of this adjustment layer, it means wherever I paint I'm not actually painting with white, I'm revealing the effects of the adjustment layer. So as I go over some area, now I'm basically painting in wherever I want to brighten up the photograph, and in some cases you'll see, remember I deliberately overdid it. So I can see what I'm doing. So I would do this in any areas where I think I want to brighten up these areas. Of course I'm doing it zoomed way too far out just to sort of give you the principle of it. And you can do whatever you want. Then, I say well I also want to darken the sky a little bit, so I start painting up in here. Again it's gonna be not very accurate for today's example just to show you the principle of everything. I'll do it really fast, so okay that, and maybe this part, not like that. So now I've revealed the effects of the adjustment layers, but in both cases they're a little bit much. But again I did that deliberately so I could see what I was doing. Now, I'd come back to the light one, say well I don't want it lightened quite that much. And see what's happening, watch the tree and the grass at the bottom. See how it's only affecting those areas because I painted on the mask. So that's a little better on that one, and then I go to the darken one and say, well that was a little overboard, maybe it should be more like this. So this is a very common approach to create two different adjustment layers. One that does brightening and one that does darkening, which is the equivalent of dodging and burning, but the difference is now I can edit all aspects of this. If it's too bright or too dark, I adjust the adjustment layer. If the painting wasn't very good I adjust the mask. You could even, and this is where it goes a step above what dodge and burn could do, I could make adjustment layers called slightly brighter, much brighter, really bright, and have three curves adjustment layers to be able to have different levels of how much I want to brighten the photograph. Now, this is beyond the scope of a beginner's class, but there's a thing that you can look up later if you wish in Photoshop called an action. And an action says I want to record something and then play it back. So you could record an action that says, add three different adjustment layers with these settings, and a layer mask filled with black, and then three more with darken settings filled with black. Run the action, then it would literally go, and as soon as you've clicked OK, you'll see in your Layers panel how you have six adjustment layers ready to paint on. So the beauty of these type of things is they can be recorded as this automated feature, so instead of every time having to go, well first I'll add an adjustment layer, then I'll make the mask black. You do it once, and you record it as this thing called an action. When you play it back, it just goes and it fills up. Now you have a photograph with these layers ready to paint on the mask. Okay? And you might find that on photo A, you only used one of those three darken adjustment layers because that's all you need, but on another one you might use all three of them. Okay? So you can take this at whatever level you want. Typically many people just start with one of each, darken and lighten, and it can be either curves or levels. You could make one for saturation, I mean anything you want, but this principle of add an adjustment layer, deliberately overdo it, paint on the mask, and then kind of pull it back a bit is a huge time saver. And it occurred to me quite a few years ago when I was working with someone and they were saying, "Look I've got this photograph, and it's like an old barn, "and it's a nice color of red but I want to shift it "just slightly, but just the barn." And we tried to make a selection. Didn't work so well because there was too much going on, so I said, why don't we just paint on the mask? So he did that, he made a subtle adjustment, then he literally zoomed in to like 800% and his face was like this. I'm like, that's probably not the most efficient way to work to try and get an accurate mask by putting your face like this. So I said, why don't we make it purple? And he said, "I don't want it purple." Why don't we temporarily make it purple so it's easier to see the mask? And once the mask looks good then put it back to red, and he went, light bulb, yes that makes better sense. So I think in that case I hadn't stressed my favorite end up with expression enough with him that he forgot. Doesn't matter how you get there as long as you end up with the result. So in his world he would've been face against the monitor for an hour trying to get a better mask. When we did it my way it took 10 minutes. Still, I mean a reasonable amount of time. More accurate, and he had much more flexibility because then he could continually, we did a test print. No it's not quite the right shade of red. Well tweak it a bit more, okay? So, that's the adjustment layer side of things. Let's go back here. And take a look at maybe this one which is a raw file. So when I open a file in Raw, this is where I try to do a lot of the adjustment I can except for selective adjustment. So if I look at a photograph and I say globally I need to do these things, then I would do as much of that as I could here, and then potentially add more to it later on in Photoshop using adjustment layers. So for example in this case part of the reason why I would start with Raw is because Camera Raw and Lightroom has a couple things that Photoshop doesn't, including this amazing thing called dehaze. Whoever invented that at Photoshop gets the Nobel Prize of Photoshop or something if there was such a thing, because this is remarkable. I mean it used to be you had a photograph that was hazy, it was like, oh well. Now you move a slider and it just like pulls out detail in the photograph that's just crazy amazing. Typically it makes things a little darker doing that, so you just change the exposure. Another thing that Photoshop doesn't have built in is clarity, which does a nice job of sharpening midtones to make a really nice look. So that's already better just by a couple of sliders. So then I hit Open Object. We talked earlier about how we've set this up using a preference, how it's this thing called a Camera Raw smart object. Means I can go back and forth between the two. So, I left it at that because I might want to do more work on that shipwreck in the middle, but if I try to do that in Camera Raw or Lightroom with the adjustment brush, you'd see me poking myself in the eye with the pen because it's so, ew, just clumsy. It doesn't give you the same control as Photoshop does. So I would be much happier, it's probably zoomed in a little too much. Okay, there we go, to add an adjustment layer, like I'm gonna even do Levels. Over-adjust it. Invert the mask, take my paintbrush. Start painting with white, like this. I'll just do it very fast but you get the idea. Of course you would zoom in closer. Get a smaller brush here and there. Don't forget about the reflection if you want it. All that stuff, and then once you're happy with it and of course I'm far from happy with that but to get the idea, now I'd go back and say, but I don't really want it that much. I want it more like this, then I can turn this on and off to kind of see what I'm doing. To do that same thing with the adjustment brush in Camera Raw or Lightroom, we'd still be doing this for 20 minutes, and going, oh that's so annoying. It's so slow, and some people love it because they don't use Photoshop so it's still better than nothing. But if you have the choice I would say that this is a job for Photoshop, the superhero. Now, with that in mind, I can still look at it, say well now that I've adjusted that shipwreck, I might want to make some overall adjustments globally to the whole photo now. So, this is still one of those Camera Raw smart objects. Means I can still double-click to go back to Raw, and make whatever change I want in here, whatever it might be. Let's just say I want to add everything a little more saturated color, whatever I want to do. Click OK, and it will update that, but then the adjustment layer still continues to have the effect, so it's cumulative. You've got the underlying layer has been adjusted itself in Raw. And then, the adjustment layer on top of that with the mask is saying only affect this one area. Now that I look at it again I think maybe I went a little bit overboard with this so I'll just pull it back a little bit more. Something like that maybe. So again, usually it's a subtle change but initially that philosophy of saying, well let me deliberately over-adjust it to see what I'm doing just saves so much time. Sometimes I'll do that, I'll pull the slider back and when I really compare, it's hardly visible at all but I know there's a difference enough that it looks better to me. But it was so much easier to paint on the mask when it's more visible than when you made a subtle change, and you're like, I think it's working, I can't really tell. Okay? Now, if you had a building or an object that was much more obvious than this with nice edges and so on, you could also of course have made a selection of that object before you added the adjustment layer and it would've made the mask automatically. In this case, I just felt it was just as easy to add the mask, fill it with black, and then, or I should say add the adjustment layer, make the mask black, and then paint with white, okay? Excuse me. Of all the things we've talked about that are kind of recurring themes, or recurring techniques, this is probably high on my list, because I use this same principle for lots of things in Photoshop. Any function that allows me to reedit it like an adjustment layer, and as we'll see later on, smart filters, then I will often deliberately go a little bit overboard, if not a lot overboard, so it's easier to see with the change I'm making. Once I'm happy with the masking et cetera, then pull the settings back to a more normal number. And as we saw in this other photograph, having multiple of the same adjustment layers with its own mask means you can edit as much as you want. You can literally, I mean I've seen people that make, I don't know, 10 or 12 adjustment layers. So they really want to go and say, just this one area I need to be a little bit brighter than that one, they do that by adding more adjustment layers each with its own mask, and just paint to reveal the area that you want. Okay? So, time to repeat myself once again. This doesn't mean anything of course unless I save it as a PSD file, because if I just now said okay now save it as JPEG and moved on, then I wouldn't be able to come back in later. Part of the reason that I rely so heavily on adjustment layers is as much as we talk about technology, trying to get a print from my computer onto my color printer, even though I feel like I haven't changed any settings, sometimes it just doesn't come out looking the way I expect it to, so I'm gonna use adjustment layers so I can do a print, and go, no I need a bit more of this. So I'll come back in here and darken this up a little more, whatever it is, because I can, and I just keep doing that, and then print. Now, this is not a course at all on printing and color matching, because those are whole other factors, but just to mention in passing, I mention this because I had an email a few days ago that someone asked this question, and it's always concerning to me when someone starts a question with, "I heard once that," and I was like, where did you hear that? Was it 14 years ago that someone told you this? Because things have changed. But their question was, "I heard that you always need "to flatten your image before printing." No. A printer will print whatever is on your screen, so if you have 47 layers and you hit Print it'll print the composite image that you're looking at on your screen. Whether the colors match or not is a whole different kettle of fish, but for people who feel like, oh before I print this I better merge or flatten everything, no point in doing that. The only reason that I could ever think of was it was such an enormous file that you'd created that your printer went, I can't handle this. Then maybe you'd make a copy that was flattened just for file size, but I've never encountered that. So, that's one of those things that may have been true 17 years ago. Because people were worried about how long it took to print. But someone once years ago wrote an interesting article called, like, Top 10 Myths About Photoshop, that people just sort of told each other. It became true. People say, I've heard that you have to do this for this to work. It's like, no, and that's one of them. Saving this as a PSD file, again, always a good idea so you can come back and work on it, but that's kind of the principle for me of adjusting. Now, there's nothing to say that once you've done this type of adjusting, of being a little more selective, I might still decide, but overall I'd still like to make another change. So there's a set of adjustments that are kind of innocent called Photo Filter adjustment layers. And these ones, they're basically, the premise of them is in photography you can put a filter on your lens to change, like cooling, warming, that kind of thing. This is the equivalent of those after the fact. So, what's interesting about these is in the older days of Photoshop, before this filter, people would make a layer filled with a solid color and then play around with every blend mode under the sun to try and make it look the right way. These ones are built this way. So as I go down this list you'll see there is various warming filters, and they are referring to actual filters that you could purchase. You can see all the different ones, and you'll see it's pretty subtle in most cases. That one's pretty obvious with the blue, but if we turn it on and off. But again you'll see, I didn't make a selection, so therefore it's affecting the entire image, but I could still use this filter and say, but I don't really like the way it's affecting the grass, so I could paint that out on the mask, okay? So these ones are all built in. They're all kind of subtle. You can make them a little more obvious if you push but you see it's still not really as if I'm filling it with a color. It's still adding a color tone to it. If you want your own color you can also choose one using this whole color picker kind of method. Say I would like to see what it looked like with this color or this color, and then it will make, but you're gonna see again it's not, it's more obvious, like look at the clouds. You see the clouds have a bit more color in them than they did before, and that's kind of what these photo filters do. But the main point I wanted to show you here is that I've got two adjustment layers that are being very selective by the mask, and one that's not, and that's your choice. You can do it any combination you want. And this is one photograph with multiple adjustment layers. One of the biggest, I don't want to say debates, but differences of opinion, is how do you make the best black and white photograph from a color one? And the answer is insert 18 different options that people like. For me personally it's usually a couple of adjustment layers together. So, black and white is nice, but I like to do black and white, and maybe one other one, sometimes it's three, and I have different combinations. Then I can turn them on and off and see what combination. I mean you could just do it simply black and white. The main thing I will tell you, should have mentioned this earlier when I talked about color, let's find one without a layer in it, is, if you ever want to change a color photograph into a black and white photograph, please do not ever do this. Because when you say change it to Grayscale, it will say, I will have to discard the color, but look even Adobe says, you might want to use an adjustment layer. It actually doesn't say adjustment but at least it's saying you might want to try making your own adjustment, because if you just say Discard the color, it just generically says there you go, it's that black and white now. So that's not a good approach. So instead, we would say we want to use some other method like the black and white adjustment layer, and then we can start adjusting different sliders, and say, make it look the way we want so we have way more control over it. Whatever we want. I like to use also one that adds just a little bit extra, that is Gradient Map. And needs to be the other way around. It's a pretty subtle difference. I don't know if you'll be able to see on here, but you can see it just makes a little bit of a difference that I like quite often. So now I have my color photograph that has two adjustment layers making it black and white. So at this point, I suppose, you could now say save as grayscale, because at least it's using this color, but I still wouldn't. I would save this one as a PSD file and save a copy, so now I have a copy that's black and white that's maybe a JPEG, okay? And the only reason I say that is you might at this moment in time be 100% convinced that I want to convert this to black and white. But down the road, you might, if that's the only version you have, I would not want to have that happen, so I'd like to at least be able to come back to this original one and say, yeah nevermind I want it color after all. Okay? And I'm not in anyway suggesting that this is the ideal way to convert to black and white but it's certainly better than just changing the mode to Grayscale, because that's gonna do a generic conversion that very often you might not like the end result. So, I would either do Camera Raw where you can convert to black and to grayscale there, or adjustment layers here where you have more options, or both. Start with the Camera Raw conversion and then make your own adjustment after the fact.