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Thread: Contrast Adjustment in PS is Useless !!

  1. #1
    dje's Avatar
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    Contrast Adjustment in PS is Useless !!

    Sorry about the agressive title - just wanted to grab your attention !!

    Is it just me, or do others find the Contrast adjustment in PS (ie the slider in the Brightness/Contrast adjustment tool) to be of little use. I find I get much better results using the mid-tone slider in the Levels adjustment tool or adjusting the tone Curve.

    I'd appreciate hearing about the experience of others.

    Dave

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    Ollokot's Avatar
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    Re: Contrast Adjustment in PS is Useless !!

    Hi Dave,
    Personaly I dont like the Brightness/Contrast sliders and never use them,I think Levels,Curves or Local Contrast enhancment using Unsharp Mask is a better way to go,
    Best Wishes,
    Pat

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    Re: Contrast Adjustment in PS is Useless !!

    Dave that is a hard question, not knowing your workflow as using any adjustment tool to a layer is desructive to that layer. I myself have started to use, once, processed the RAW file opened as a smart layer in PS. Once opened I copy it as "New Smart Layer via Copy", this allows me very fine control over the image, than add a mask, to mask out those parts of the image that I do not want to view, doing this until I get the image as I want it. It is then that I do a merge visible layer to do the sharpening on, if I think that the image needs it, a levels or curves adjustment I apply it to the merge visible layer as I can aways create another one. By having each layer as a smart layer I can go back in the future to make any tweets to the image. Once this is done I will save the file, once saved I will reopen it, trash all layers below the merge visible layer, flatten all layers above it, than save it to a folder that I will print from in the future. I only do this with images that I believe that I will print as the files can become quite large the last image I did was 1.97G so you only want to do this method to those files that you may want to print in the future or may want to take in a different direction.

    Allan

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    Re: Contrast Adjustment in PS is Useless !!

    I agree with Pat (and you?)

    I confess to using Auto in ACR to set them in RAW processing, but then I'll manually tweak every other slider (except those two) to get it looking how I like.

    Never go near them in CS5 preferring Levels and LCE.

    I consider the sheer/shear/? variety of controls as alternative methods of image control, not things where I must use every single one to have done the job.

    I am sure if you shot a simple image, say a full frame grayscale card, and wanted a certain variation of step heights as the final image, different photographers could achieve that using different controls from each other, for exactly the same result.

    If I am driving, I can get from 30 mph to 20 mph by three methods; coasting (given enough space), braking and engine braking, or I could combine all three!

    Cheers,
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 25th February 2012 at 01:17 AM.

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    I don't use it a lot (I'm usually using the exposure and blacks sliders to set the overall clipping points), but contrast does work slightly differently though, and occasionally it's kinder than using the above two controls.

    The brightness control on the other hand is a major MAJOR go-to tool for processing portraits. With a correctly exposed shot, adjust the exposure up one stop in Photoshop, and then lower the brightness to bring back the skintones (essentially a midtone adjustment).

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    Re: Contrast Adjustment in PS is Useless !!

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Humphries View Post
    I confess to using Auto in ACR to set them in RAW processing
    Burn that man at the stake!

    Never go near them in CS5 preferring Levels and LCE.
    Not sure if I'm understanding this correctly, but if you want to pass on the maximum amount of data to Photoshop to allow the biggest adjustment to levels, then that really really really should be done in ACR as the image is still in linear gamma at that stage -- as soon as the image is passed through to Photoshop or Photoshop Elements (even as a 16 bit file) - then a lot of data has already been discarded as part of the gamma conversion.

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    dje's Avatar
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    Re: Contrast Adjustment in PS is Useless !!

    Thanks everybody for your comments.

    Colin are you saying you do use the Brightness and Contrast sliders in ACR ?

    Allan I've never experimented with Smart Layers but I do use Adjustment layers wherever possible (for brightness, levels, saturation etc).

    Dave

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    Re: Contrast Adjustment in PS is Useless !!

    Quote Originally Posted by dje View Post
    Colin are you saying you do use the Brightness and Contrast sliders in ACR ?
    Hi Dave,

    It's rare that I use contrast, but I use brightness on every single image; I couldn't process a portrait optimally without it.

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    dje's Avatar
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    Re: Contrast Adjustment in PS is Useless !!

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    Hi Dave,

    It's rare that I use contrast, but I use brightness on every single image; I couldn't process a portrait optimally without it.
    Thanks Colin - understood.

    Dave

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    Re: Contrast Adjustment in PS is Useless !!

    The most basic rule I learned when I started out in Photoshop was "never use the obvious tool!" ;^)

    Photoshop has been developed over a long time, and as better methods of acheiving a desired effect have been found (often by the user community) new tools have been added, but the old tools have also retained, to keep existing users happy.

    The result is (1) there is usually multiple ways to acheive the same effect, but (2) the currently "best" way is often hidden under an not-so-obvious name, since the straight-forward label was already taken by an earlier tool.

    As you progress in learning, this gives you a neat chance to impress less experienced colleagues, and helps create a market for Photoshop gurus.

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    dje's Avatar
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    Re: Contrast Adjustment in PS is Useless !!

    Quote Originally Posted by lenelg View Post
    The most basic rule I learned when I started out in Photoshop was "never use the obvious tool!" ;^)

    Photoshop has been developed over a long time, and as better methods of acheiving a desired effect have been found (often by the user community) new tools have been added, but the old tools have also retained, to keep existing users happy.

    The result is (1) there is usually multiple ways to acheive the same effect, but (2) the currently "best" way is often hidden under an not-so-obvious name, since the straight-forward label was already taken by an earlier tool.

    As you progress in learning, this gives you a neat chance to impress less experienced colleagues, and helps create a market for Photoshop gurus.
    Lennart I think there is more than an element of truth in what you say !!

    Dave

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    Re: Contrast Adjustment in PS is Useless !!

    Like most of the other replies, Dave, brightness/contrast adjustment is something which I never do.

    I originally found these options in early freebie software which had limited adjustments, and never really liked using it back then.

    For me, it has to be Curves. I find Levels to be a bit harsh so rarely use that.

    But as an alternative for substantial overall adjustment, I sometimes create a duplicate layer then reset the Blend Mode to give the desired effect. Often with a mask which I vary to give a selective result.

    And with regard to using Auto Adjustments. Sometimes, when I am confused about the best way to start editing for brightness/colour, I use the Auto option; and note what it did, then cancel it, and do my own edit, but based on the idea it gave me.

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    dje's Avatar
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    Re: Contrast Adjustment in PS is Useless !!

    Quote Originally Posted by Geoff F View Post
    But as an alternative for substantial overall adjustment, I sometimes create a duplicate layer then reset the Blend Mode to give the desired effect. Often with a mask which I vary to give a selective result.
    Yes Geoff, I use a duplicate layer with a suitable blending mode sometimes too.

    Dave

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    Re: Contrast Adjustment in PS is Useless !!

    You're right! it's useless. or, it's useless until you want to make a non destructive post production to your image. This adjustment is one of the older we can remember in the earlys photoshops softwares. there are a lot of ways to make great contrast without destroyng your histogram. curves and levels (even if between the two, i'd choose this one) are just the best of the worst, excepting the contrast-exposure adjustment.

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