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Contrast and Color

Lesson 6 from: Adobe Photoshop 101

Ben Willmore

Contrast and Color

Lesson 6 from: Adobe Photoshop 101

Ben Willmore

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Lesson Info

6. Contrast and Color


Class Trailer

Day 1


Adobe Bridge Basics


Sorting Images in Adobe Bridge


Processing Images in Adobe Camera Raw Part 1


Processing Images in Adobe Camera Raw Part 2


Image Processing Q&A


Contrast and Color


Adjustment Brush and Auto Mask


Lesson Info

Contrast and Color

On this image I don't think this is when I show a client they're not going to think I'm that great of a photographer right because we're going to go yeah so in this case I don't like what's happening in the bright part of the picture this guy's too bright and I don't like what's happening to the dark part of the picture the horses are too dark so I could use the shadows and highlights slaughters but I'm not going to right now the time that I don't is when I would need to move them both in opposite directions if that's what you need to do that's what contrast does contrast controls how big of a difference is there between bright things in dark things as you increase contrast bright things get brighter dark things get darker it should make this image even worse as the dark horses get even darker the bright sky gets even brighter so increasing contrast in this case will not be good thing so increasing contrast bright things brighter dark things get darker decreasing contrast does the oppo...

site the bright things were gonna darken up a bit dark things going to brighten up get what happens is when you lower contrast things become more similar looking so the brights and darks become less extreme so in this case if I bring that down it might not be enough but you notice my sky when I bring it down is getting darker and do you notice that the horses that are here are getting a little bit lighter? So that's one thing I could do in this case it's just that the image is too extreme if it wasn't so extreme if those horses didn't look for the most part black uh then that probably would have been enough right there to lower contrast contrast try to think howto best describe it if you khun look at me camera people and imagine my laptop right here imagine this right here is a history graham it's going to take let's see, I got to think about your view of this is this where black iss you know this is where black is for you guys your view this is black this is white it's going to take whatever's here and here and either expand them to make them more different than each other or put them closer together make them more similar and it's so it grabs the kind of a third of the way in on each side of the history ramen either pushes the stuff closer together, which means more similar or spreads them further apart, which means more different not everybody is comfortable thinking about history grams at all most people aren't s o that might not help you, but for those of you that do connect to the idea of the history ram that might be a useful thought so anyway I lowered contrast which got the sky and the horse is to be a little bit more similar and brightness they weren't so extreme and then I could just do these like we did on other images, so right now the sky doesn't bug me that much it's not a huge part of the image as faras what's important the horses are what bug me, it's the dark part of the image so you can probably guess what? I'm going to grab shadows, right? So I'm gonna bring shadows up and now we can start seen what was in that dark area. Now, any time you bring contrast down, you're going to make your image look more dull than it was previously and most people don't like with their images look like when they're dull. So there's another slider in here that peps your image up regardless of what it looked like before it's goingto make it snappy make it pop, make it just jump off the page kind of thing and that's one called clarity clarity actually emphasizes the detail well, it's like make the detail pop out so any time I lower contrast, I almost always increased clarity to compensate because otherwise the image can look really dull, but I'll use clarity at all on most images uh anyone so I'm going to move clarity to the right and like, watch the grass possibly see it just kind of jump out war or bring it down up so that's going to bring some snap back into the image that I might have lost when I ended up adjusting my contrast uh uh I can click on the little icon room in the lower right corner uh one looks like little slider bars click once there's before look again you see how much more usable it is there are other things that would make this image look a lot more ah lot better but we just haven't talked about him yet one is down here we have vibrance and saturation they control colorful your images with both of them moving towards the right your mention becomes more colorful moving to the left they become left colorful both vibrance and saturation so I might pump up the color a little bit get more colorful in there. Yes what does this do to your noise since you we've examined really well I mean what's going because you adjust to the contrast. Well, if you're talking about the vibrant slider, the vibrant slider is not going to do much to my noise brighton in the horses is what did this stuff to my noise and it didn't do it to my noise it just made the noise easy to see the noise was there it was just it was uh justus noisy in the horses before I just made that bright enough where I can see the noise so the brightening the horses is what affected noise bringing up vibrance it's not affecting noise in general but the cut is a contrast affect that so these air really dark to begin with so when you adjust to the contrast yeah regardless of what the name of the slider is, if anything that was dark gets bright, you're making it easier to see the noise that was there regardless of what slider. So yes, if I bring down contract and that's part of how the horse scott brighter that's it's it's not a matter of what the slider is doing is just there's noise in the really dark party your picture if you make it so it's no longer the really dark part of your picture instead it's a normal part now the noises in the normal party your picture that's the mindset I'd have doesn't matter what slattery moved to do it now vibrance in saturation what the heck's the difference because they seem to do the same thing saturation treats all colors equally so that every color gets an equal boost um to make it more colorful, vibrance concentrates instead on melo colors areas that are not that colorful to begin with and with vibrance it applies less and less and less as it gets into the areas that are already colorful so if you have a red car in your picture and it's red I mean it's ridiculously read to begin with everything else in the picture looks mellow if you were to move up saturation which treats all colors equally the red cars going toe look artificial it's going toe it's already so red that it's crazy red you're going to tell it go even redder than crazy red and it's going to start looking artificial it's going to start looking like somebody drew it instead of took a picture of it but if you bring up vibrance vibrance it's going to take everything else in the picture that's not all that colorful to begin with it's going to boost that make it more colorful and it's going to apply less and less as it gets towards that red car that's already overly colorful and so I use vibrance more off the saturation because it's too easy to overdo things that are already colorful and what happens is when you overdo something that's already a colorful it loses detail when you had a red car where you could see the shading that gave it form that gave it shape. Suddenly the shading starts to go away and it becomes a solid red car with no shadows no highlights is just a red blob that's a thing called saturation clipping that's the technical term for it we clipped away the detail that was there so vibrance is what's used most commonly vibrance also has a couple other things some that are good some that are bad with vibrance. It will try not to over saturate skin because if you make a picture with person in it more colorful, they can look sunburnt pretty quickly if you take the red on windows and stuff, make it even redder, that kind of stuff vibrance is going to do less to skin also vibrant is going to darken in prefer blue things the most common blue thing in a photo skye and people like darker blue skies, so when you crank up vibrant, you're going to find the blue things get darker and more colorful, more so than in any other color, and that could be a problem too if you don't have a sky instead he got a blue car or you got something else that's blue were in this case, those horses actually looks somewhat blue because I haven't color corrected the picture and bringing up vibrance will exaggerate that because it over messes with blue so anyway saturation is pretty simple thing it just means make everything more colorful or less vibrance is much more sophisticated, it says, mainly make the mellow things more colorful and be careful skin and overdo your sky you know that kind of stuff so most people use vibrant more so than saturation right this image at this point look at the bar chart you see a gap on the left side or if there's anything over there it's so small it almost there's nothing that means there's really no black or if there is a black it's a spec so I could take the black slider bring her down tell that kisses the end it might give me more density in the darkest part of the horse because we over brighton the horse so much that nothing ended up being black in it right now the main thing that I don't like is I might be able to just the sky a little bit but horse wise is the color it looks a little blue to me I'm gonna work on some other images for color but in general these two sliders are what lets you shift the color and if you move this slider let's say this way you're moving at the same time away from blue and he makes the image look less blue and at the same time make it look more yellow uh because yellow is the opposite of blue and it's like a seesaw are a teeter totter where if I have blue in one hand and yellow and the other and we have too much blue to begin within the horses to reduce the blue you're automatically increasing the other because they're the opposites one color absorbs the other so it might be a little mentally different as far as thinking it. But if I move it this way, it means make the horses less blue. And yet the same time needs more yellow. But I'm not going to notice them becoming yellow until all the blues away. If you absorbed all the blue there's no longer any in there, then I'm going to start noticing it going towards yellow so I could pull this over here. How they look when we're brownish in their horse color. This one also makes it go towards magenta or towards green. Or you could think of it as away from those two colors. Right now, the horses might look a little bit magenta. I could tune them in there's all sorts of other things we could do. So here's one color wise. Uh, first off what I notice in this image is it just feel somewhat dull? Um, it's kind of hard to describe why or what? But but if I look at the history ram, I can tell right away. Do you see a big gap on the right side? Nothing. Anywhere close to white. So this is when you could gram highlights, but highlights can only pull things so far and I get it. That's maxed out you see the bar chart? How it's just barely touching the end yet so it's a matter of when you have a big gap on the end that's when I go for the sledgehammer, the whites so I'll bring that over until I'm not even looking at the picture and look at the bar chart bringing over toward hits heck, bring it over until it becomes almost a spike back off that's about the highest I'd want to go it didn't become a big spike and now I just know that's the highest now I look at the picture and I say, okay, fifty nine's the highest I want to go because beyond that we'll make a spike and we get lose detail now I'm gonna back off on it just watch the picture and say could be yeah, I think it looked good all the way up that fifty nine, but I just move it down to say did just look best at that max or a little less s o if you want to see before and after so far here's before there's after to me doesn't look his dole anymore now I don't always go for shadow detail sometimes it's nice having almost black shadows gives you more drama in the image more just more going on if you always show detail everywhere it's starts looking generic in some ways so I don't mind that I don't see detail there it's if there was something in that shadow that was important detail that if I didn't see wouldn't look good like a horse all right but then this one is just the color looks funky to me the sky looks somewhat normal but this stuff at the bottom this is iceland iceland is not that color iceland is green so I'm gonna go over here to my color and let's see what we can do first looking at that and looking at the four colors we have right here we have blue, yellow, green magenta if I think of there being too much of anything in the bottom portion of the image and I'm not sure I'm just guessing but there's a lot of yellow down there is there not and let's just see what happens we move it away from yellow oh that's the green coming in iceland's green that's more in iceland then let's just see what happens. We move him bottom. I don't know I look at it, I can't tell if it's too much of one or the other, but if I move it, I can't whoa that's too much what you khun dio is move it until you can see the best separation and the colors meaning if you have too much of something it means that that just think about it like spices and cooking or something. If you dump too much of something into a pot and stir it around, you can't taste anything other than the thing you have too much of that makes sense. You get it down to just the right amount of that spice and then I can taste yes, that spice, but I can also taste the others so that you can taste the flavor variation same thing is true of color put way too much of one color and it's too yellow everything that picture looks so yellow that I can't tell if there's any other color there, but get it just right and it's, where all the other colors seemed to come out, that makes a sense, but when I'm moving this around, I'm going to look for when do I see the most variation in color? Because if this is moved way over here, I'm ignoring this sky, looking at the bottom portion, I can't see a lot of variation in the color that's so yellow, but when I start getting it over here, I can see the difference now between the greenes and the almost blackish things that are around it by moving too far the other way now, everything's looking blue, I can't see the difference between the greenes and the black ish things around so try to find the one that makes it come out the most the color separate the most and then do the same thing with the other uh started look too similar go the other way okay where they starting to separate something that's one way of thinking about another way thank you, matt it is if you can see anything in your picture that should be a shade of gray and by shade of gray I'm not talking about the grey you generically think of I'm thinking about anything it would be in a black and white photo which means black is a shade of gray it's not blue it's not yellow it's a shade of gray white is a shade of gray most people think of a generic middle gray think of something that should not have color that's a shade of grey if you can find one of those, then you can grab this eyedropper and click on that thing this little guy and it will move those same two sliders we've been playing with until the thing you clicked on truly is a shade of gray meaning it does not have any color's not bluish, not yellow, so I'm not sure if this will work but I'm gonna click right here it just adjusted the image so that area is neutral it has no color and I can try a couple different areas to see if it'll do it but if it's something, I think that rockets a lava like rock, uh, is close to a grey, so let's. See before and after on this one here is before here's, after. I don't know that I like the sky, but I like the bottom a lot more. If you've ever been to iceland, uh, isil looks like that. Not this now the sky. I could that's the brightest part of the picture of that, so I could bring the highlights down, and this is when vibrant is going to mess us up, because most likely it's going to make blues even bluer and it's going to make it look ridiculous. I could bring vibrance down that will mellow out the blues. But there are other things we haven't talked about yet that could fix that.

Class Materials

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Course Guide

Ratings and Reviews

a Creativelive Student

Ben, thanks again for this course. I have taken and purchased quite a few of your courses to date. I keep thinking I will only watch to make sure I am on the right track and you always bring more to the table than the last course. Your teaching methods are the best, sorry to all the other instructors from Creative Live, but you are very easy to understand and you speak in layman's terms so we all can understand. I am following your instructions and working along with your files and it is the best! It is hard to keep up with you even when I watch you on one computer and work with the same files on another computer, to do what you are doing...impossible but I gain so much by trying. You provide so much info on each topic, it is amazing. Thanks to Karen for the PDFs, she does a fantastic job and also, for her templates/layout documents. Thanks again and to anyone who thinks this is too much money for all the videos, the exercise files and the instruction PDF, I am sorry to say but you are mistaken.

John Taylor

Like all of the Creative Live courses, excellent training. Ben does a great job of explaining the entry part of Photoshop. A lot of things cleared up in my head and i like his easy pace into this complex program. Thanks Ben.


I had several "lightbulb" moments with this class, after many years of photography and when you think you know it all, you don't :) Ben Willmore is an excellent tutor, with his many years of experience teaching PS, he obviously knows the types of things a lot of us struggle to understand. I learnt a lot about Bridge, and have since implemented these things into my everyday workflow, so much easier to sort out what I want to keep etc.. Thanks so much Ben and Creative Live. Thanks also to Ben's wife for her amazing work creating the Guide etc. Even though being in Australia, I pay more for the courses (the conversion rate, the aussie dollar is low at the moment) it's very worth it to me. I have paid more for courses here, and learnt next to nothing. Thanks again.

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