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Correcting Exposure

Lesson 8 from: Practical Adobe Photoshop Basics

Khara Plicanic

Correcting Exposure

Lesson 8 from: Practical Adobe Photoshop Basics

Khara Plicanic

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Lesson Info

8. Correcting Exposure

Next Lesson: Correcting Color


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How To Undo Mistakes


Adobe Workspace


Using The Brush Tool


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Correcting Exposure


Lesson Info

Correcting Exposure

we're gonna talk about exposure and the tonal range oven image. So what does that even talking about? I mean, if you study photography, hopefully you understand what exposure is, but just in case exposures just basically held, the image gets captured. And when we talk about the tonal range in an image, we're talking about shadows, mid tones and highlights and how they're captured and how they render. And all of that. So, like this image here has all of those things that have shadow areas. It has some mid tone areas, and it has areas that air highlights or brighter. So we're just talking about shadows, mid range and then bright stuff that's really all there is to it. So sometimes we have images that are not necessarily exposed very well. So here's one that I shot. That's not so great, Onda. Of course, this is all a little bit up to our perception. Some people might like images slightly over exposed like myself. I tend to over expose my images on purpose because I like him that way. Of c...

ourse, there's a range where you can sort of play with it. And then there's a range where you start to lose information, so it's all continuum. But we could probably all look at this photo and think, Oh, that looks pretty dark. So let's talk about that and we'll talk about an image. Let's overexposed. So here's one that's too bright. So it had the whatever settings I shot, the fun. It was such that way too bright. And so we've lost detail. So this is this is definitely more overexposed, and I would even go with so it can barely even see his little arm over here. So, of course, the best thing is to shoot the image correctly in your camera. That's always number one photo shop. We don't wanna be lazy where we think of foot a shop as a crutch for that. But there are situations where sometimes you realize later that you want the exposure a little bit different or for to suit a purpose. Or, you know, the reality is also were not perfect, and we don't always shoot perfect, so it's nice to be able to make some adjustments. So here's an image that I think a little under exposed. Not so bad, but we could tweak this and make it a little better. So I'm going to show you multiple ways to adjust something like exposure so we can come up to the image menu and under image. We're going to go to adjustments, and in this case, I want to show you something just called brightness contrast. So this is a really straightforward command. It's just got to sliders with easy names that most people can. We can wrap their minds around, and it's, I mean, it makes a lot of sense. If I want to brighten this image, I'm going to take the slider and increase the brightness pretty much. That's all there is to this. You may notice, however, that photo shop and working on our images. It's a very organic process. I mean, I know we're talking about pixels and zeros and ones and data, but it's still very organic, and it's sort of like building a house or when you like, unravel a sweater. You pull on one thing and something else starts ticket to go a little bit. So even here, when I'm just adjusting the brightness, the contrast, even though the slider is not moving, the contrast seems, I think, to have gotten a little increased, so you might find that you make one adjustment here to brightness, and you maybe want to take the contrast lighter and maybe drag it down just a little bit. So there's given. There's take. And don't be afraid to embrace that. I guess so. If we were happy with us, we would just click. OK, then and now we've made an adjustment. We could compare the difference if we want. I think that's really useful, especially when we're just eyeballing things. Teoh. Undo and redo with that Commander Control Z. So we can just toggle that with the keyboard so we can see the change because sometimes groups, sometimes you kind of get beer goggles a little bit. And, um, it's easy to forget what you started with and what you've looked at long enough and you don't know anymore. So it's good to test yourself and do a little before and after. Okay, now, also keep in mind that this adjustment that we made was applied directly to this image. So this is not a case of nondestructive editing. This is a change that's been made and applied to the image it that's fine there's nothing wrong with that. But as we'll see in a little bit, if we decide leader that we want less change or more change, we'd have to in essence, adjust the adjustment. And that's not a not That's not a best practice, we would say. So I'll show you what that means and how we can work a little differently later. But for right now, that's good. And if that's all I was going to do to this image, it's fine. I don't I don't need to, like, go all into nondestructive editing for every little thing I want to dio. So in this case, we made an adjustment. I could save this and move on. Let's look at another tool for making adjustments. This one is, uh, called exposure. So under image adjustments, there's an exposure option. You'll notice, by the way, that these adjustments are sort of grouped there, sort of categorized. So we have, like, exposure adjustments that are right here. There's color adjustments that are grouped right here. So there's like a little sub divider here, so I think it's nice that that Adobe does that. But anyway, image adjustments, exposure and here we would just take this exposure and brighten it up. And here we can adjust the gamma little bit if we want to. This is like the mid tones, Um and that's just another option. So this is an image that's backlit, and as a result, the foreground is a little darker. Maybe then then I would have liked. So you can use this tool to make some adjustments as well. But the problem still is like we don't really see what we're doing. I mean, like, we see what's happening in the image, and we see some numbers over here. But when I think of that, I think. But I'm not like connecting those two things. So I'm gonna just cancel this for right now and I want to talk to you about what levels are. So I'm gonna open an image while a series of images will do a few of these, Um, all right, so one of my favorite ways to adjust exposure is using something called levels command. So you confined levels under image adjustment levels, and then you see this little thing and this tends to freak people out because they're like, What is that? You may have run into this on your camera, it's called your hissed a gram, and it's not a scary if it looks like it reminds me of, like my pre Cal Dave and left them behind for a reason. But, um, it's just a graph that shows us the tones in our image and where they fall on a luminosity scale, which is just a fancy word for brightness, basically. So if we look at this chart on the left over here, we have the shadows. This is the shadow area of our graph. These are the mid tones, and these are the highlights. So all this little mountain here is is showing me where the pixels in whatever given image where they land on this brightness scale. So you can see in this particular image we have shadows. Could we have information here? We have mid tones, and we have highlights. That's great. Wonderful. So that's what history am looks like. Now let's look at an image where we might want Teoh make an adjustment to that. So where are you? Number seven? Oh, it's 10. No wonder. So here's an image. Um, and if I go back to image adjustment levels. And let's look at this, hissed a gram. This is diagram looks different. There's not a right or a wrong, hissed a gram. There's just hissed a grams, and you might like this name is just as it is, and I think that's fine. This would be something we might call a low key image. So it's just sort of ah, darker image. That doesn't mean it's bad. That doesn't mean it's under exposed. It just is a darker image. But we could still brighten this up if we wanted Teoh so we could take this slider here on the right, the highlight slider. And if I drag it into the left, you can see the image gets brighter. So what we're doing when we we do this is we're changing the definition of highlights and shadows and mid tones and all of that. So, for example, the mid tone or excuse me, the luminosity scale. This brightness runs from zero, meaning no brightness. Total darkness to 255. Okay, that's what we're working with. A range from 0 to 2 55 right now to 55 is the highlight right here. And we can see from this graph. We're missing some highlight, and there's not a lot of information here. But if we take the slider and we drag it inward, the image gets brighter. Because what are we doing? We're telling Photoshopped that we want the pixels that are here at location 1 46 We want those pixels to be the bright pixels now, So we're basically reassigning them. Were saying, Hey, pixels here at with the previous value of 146 brightness, I want you to be 2 So were we distributing this? Now? Watch what happens when we click. OK, and then I'm just gonna open the levels Command back up. So image adjustment levels or keyboard shortcut, command or control? L Now you see that our graph is redistributed and now the highlights air here and now they say to 55 so they've been reassigned and the images brighter. Okay, that's a little bit. Look at how levels works. So I just want to show you if we opened these files just in case you're not clear on what's happening with that hissed a gram and the idea that there's not a right or wrong. So here's a just completely black file. And here's the hissed A gram for it. There is one beam over here for shadows. And there's nothing else in this image because this image is just black pixels. That's it. So we see one little beam over here. Okay? Over here. We have mid tone, Grey. So what do you think? This one looks like a beam right here in the mid tones. Here. We have a highlight beam over here. Here. We have, um, three perfect sections. So we have three perfect beans. Uh, and here we have a Grady int. So the his graham looks like this. Okay, so all the instagram is is a reflection of what's in your image, and it's not right or wrong in and of itself. But you can redefine those values if you want to buy just grabbing the shadows, mid tones or highlights and sliding them around. And also, I guess I prepared some images to to show you that, like, these are all low key images. So you're hissed. A gram doesn't have to look a certain way. I think sometimes people get a little like I need to have shadows, mid tones and highlights on a perfect distribution. No, no, no, you don't. So these are some low key images that are pretty powerful, and they're mostly shadows and they don't have, like, super bright highlights. And that's not a problem. So it's all just, you know, in the eye of the beholder and then, conversely, the they're all super high key images. So if we looked at the History Grams for these, they would have a lot of information on the right side, and they'd be pretty light on the shadow side, and that's OK, all right. One other thing that you'll see people adjust a lot is called Curves and Curves is like Levels Square for like, three D levels. I don't know, I'll show you. So it's under image adjustments, curves and you see, actually levels here. And what's different about this is we have basically a horizontal and then a vertical chart. So we have our input values and our output values, and basically and curves. You can take the input here, and then you just drag it where you want it to be on the output scale. So if I want to brighten this. I'm gonna grab these mid tones, okay? And I'm thinking mid tones, like in terms of just like levels left to right. Shadows here highlights here. So I'm grabbing in the middle. If I grab here and I drag upwards on this scale, I'm taking those mid tones and bright ming them. See how that works. So I'm just going to take that and drag it straight up. If I take the highlights over here and drag them down, I'm decreasing the highlights. Or it could take the status on this side and dragged them up and brighten the shadows. So this is what we're starting with. And wherever you grab on this scale and push it, this is where you're out putting it too. So these were our mid tones, and I just grabbed it up so you can see this area. This is the bright area, and these are the mid tones, so this one's a little bit more complex, but the more you play with it in, the more you get a feel for how it works. But in general, if you just want to like straight up Brighton, those mid tones just grab the center and pull upwards. But this is what we started with. So let's just do this and I'll click. OK, and we'll do a quick before and after conceive the difference. Do you have a lot of different options for controlling your exposures? There's also one other, um, tool. Under image adjustments, shadows highlights. Here it is so you can use the shadows Highlight slider to try and restore some information that you might have lost in your highlights and to brighten up shadow areas. So, basically, if your images, if you have like a backlit images, tends to work really good with backlit images where maybe the front got a little under exposed, you can try to brighten that here. So you just adjust this the sliders. I mean, it's pretty simple, but in this case you're almost like restoring it. You're like restoring the highlight information and restoring the shadows. That could be pretty handy, but most of the time, personally, I like to use levels because I like the feedback that you get seeing the graph and getting to just interact with it and you get the numbers and you can see the image itself so that tends to work pretty well. Question care That was actually a question that I was just gonna was wanting to ask is with all these different options for adjusting exposure that you've just outlined is our thought process behind What? When How do you use when to use which? Well, ultimately, I think it's whatever one you feel the most comfortable with, Um, for me, I just I like levels. I like the way it makes sense to me. Um, with the 255 156 levels of luminosity and you get see it on the scale and pushed around. So I personally like that a lot of people use curves because they just, like, get curves. So it's kind of whatever you're into. The other things that I showed you up here, these ones, I can't say, like brightness, contrast. It can't say recommend that as much or the or the exposure option, cause they're kind of more. I don't know. They're really just basic, and you don't get a lot of feedback. And I don't think that they they don't give you the same amount of control. So I like to teach them because I want people to just kind of be aware, like it's a nice little ease into working with levels or curves, but they're very, um they're sort of crass, I guess, is maybe the word. I like you. So you get a lot more finesse and control out of levels or curves. So that's where I would I would say to be and remember that what I've shown you all these things are destructive thes air, applying right to the image. And I don't like pointing that out because then I think people freak out like destructive. That sounds horrible. It just means that they're not flexible so that once you've applied them, you wouldn't want to go back and keep doing it. So, like this image, we made this levels adjustment. And now we have these stripes in our history. Graham. So let me just to make the point, I'm going to just destroy this image, but just to show you so we'll do something horrible like that. Click OK, and now if I open levels again now look at my instagram. It's just fallen apart because we've squashed like the mid tones are gone, right? They just became shadows and most of them, um, and we have a few highlights left, but the images like collapsing. So when you make an adjustment and you decide later that you wish you'd made less of an adjustment or you want to make more of an adjustment, it's not a good practice to keep adjusting the adjustment. So you either want to go all the way back and, like, start over or a better way to work is to use non destructive adjustment layers, and I'll cover that in a little bit. But I think it helps people to understand, like to know what adjustment layers are. You have to know what not adjustment layers are just normal adjustments, so that's what we're doing here.

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Photoshop Keyboard Shortcuts
Photoshop Resource Guide
Practical Photoshop Basics (PS action file)
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Ratings and Reviews

Kim Williams

I tuned into this class hoping to glean what I cold since it was free. I ended up purchasing the class because it is FILLED with so much great information in a fun and easy to understand format. Khara is an amazing instructor - I thoroughly enjoyed every minute. Worth EVERY penny. Thank you Creative Live for offering such great material, at even more amazing prices.


What an unbelievable teacher Khara is. I have wanted to learn photoshop forever but was intimidated, overwhelmed, then I watched this course. OMG I learnt so much, more then I imagined. I am so excited now to start using Photoshop, I can't wait to try out everything she taught us. With the skills we learnt over these two days I think this course provides everything I need to know to feel and more. She was outstanding, the absolute perfect teacher for someone who has never ever used Photoshop. Also great moderation by Kenna. Thank you for this awesome, amazing, wonderful course. I am sure anyone who watches this course will agree it is incredible. I couldn't recommend it more. This course was just Smurfy!

Roz Fruchtman

I would highly recommend Khara Plicanic's Practical Adobe Photoshop Basics. The name of the class, implies that the class is for beginners, but that's not exactly true. Most of us learn Photoshop by the features we need to know at any given time. As many will agree, there are a number of ways to get to the same end. I can only speak for myself, but... I would bet that many of us don't know all the strategies that are taught in this class! Check it out, I doubt you'd be disappointed! Khara brings a fun and relatable approach to everything she does. She is very entertaining, while being a superb instructor. Last, but not least... This class brings with it a ton of useful bonuses. Warm Regards, Roz Fruchtman aka @RozSpirations

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