are here: Home
Digital Photography is more than just using a digital camera; it also entails
some post processing in an image editing software to the image you captured
with your digital camera. And it is often not as complicated as you might think
it is -- or as some make it to be. In this tutorial, we look at "Levels"
and cover the basics of what you need to know about adjusting levels in Photoshop
Elements. It's a simple 3-step process that takes barely a minute to perform
but that can help you bring back to life pictures you thought forever ruined.
You've read the notes that accompany some pictures: "Some adjustments
to levels peformed" and have probably been mystified as to what exactly
Adjusting levels is a 3-step process:
- Adjust for the shadows;
- Adjust for the highlights; and,
- Adjust for the midtones.
Let's look at a picture that seems "ruined," in this case, it seems
under exposed, i.e. too dark:
If, in the past, you have just thrown up your hands in the air and bemoaned
how bad your digital camera was, perhaps you were a bit too hasty. We will recover
this picture using our 3-step levels adjustment process.
[If you want to follow along with this tutorial, download the above picture
now and open it in Photoshop Elements.]
In Photoshop Elements, select Enhance - Brightness/Contrast - Levels... A histogram
pops up on your screen and looks like this:
Don't panic! The histogram is simply a representation of all the pixels in
the picture. A quick glance at it tells us that most of our pixels are toward
the shadows (to the left). Along the horizontal axis, there are 3 triangular
markers (really, sliders): use the black one at the left to indicate where the
darkest group of pixels start in your picture; use the white one at the right
to indicate where the brightest group of pixels start in your picture; and use
the shaded one in the middle to indicate the midtones. It's that simple!
Let's apply our 3 steps:
1. Adjust for the shadows. We want to move the black marker to the first group
of dark pixels. In this case, since the black marker is already pointing to
the first group of dark pixels, we will leave it where it is, i.e. at the 0
2. Adjust for the highlights. We want to move the white marker to the first
group of bright pixels. In this case, we move the white marker to the left to
a point where we feel the first bright group of pixels start, around the 172
By doing this, notice how the picture has changed already for the better, with
3. Adjust for the midtones. Click on the shaded marker and drag it to the left
or right until you are satisfied with the result, in our case to somewhere around
1.98 (adjust to your own personal preference):
Click OK and save your "restored" picture. Nothing wrong with this
picture now -- expect for the clutter on my desk, that is!
There, that was easy, eh? Get into the habit of bringing your picture into
levels and adjusting it for shadows, highlights, and midtones before you apply
sharpening to it (another easy process):
Understanding White Balance
Your shopping clicks help keep this site free. Thanks!