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Thread: Tone Curve, Sliders, Black/White/Highlight/Shadow, LCE, and more...

  1. #1
    FlyingSquirrel's Avatar
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    Tone Curve, Sliders, Black/White/Highlight/Shadow, LCE, and more...

    I'll start off by saying that I just did a few google searches, and also several searches on this forum and reading of threads for a good 30-40 minutes. I have not found sufficient answers that are totally relevant to my questions, so now I'm posting here. Also, please forgive me if I use any incorrect terminology, as I am still relatively new to PP and am trying to learn and improve in that area.

    In LR and PS there are a variety of controls for tweaking contrast / image data, histogram, etc. A few are:

    Adjustment types
    Contrast slider
    Highlights, Shadows, Whites, Blacks sliders
    Tone curve 'graph'
    Tone curve Region sliders (again, Highlights, Shadows, Whites, Blacks sliders)
    Then you also have the Levels controls in PS
    And techniques such as LCE with USM in PS

    A few things that I have found out on my own:
    - Tone curve gives more control over histogram adjustments compared to levels
    - local contrast enhancement increases "local" contrast in smaller regions, while at the same time preventing an increase in "global" contrast thereby protecting large-scale shadow/highlight detail. It achieves this feat by making some pixels in the histogram cross over each other, which is not possible when enhancing contrast using levels or curves.

    Aside from the information above, I am still lost regarding the list of various controls listed above. My questions can be boiled down to:
    1 - What, simply if possible, are the differences between the 'adjustment types' listed above
    2 - How do you decide which control to use in particular cases
    3 - What are the pros and cons of one over the other, can you use them for the same things, or is each best used for a particular situation

    Seems rather complicated, so I'd like to understand what my options are and how to choose the right thing to do for various PP situations.

    Thanks for any help

  2. #2

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    Re: Tone Curve, Sliders, Black/White/Highlight/Shadow, LCE, and more...

    Firstly, Matt, read all the tutorials on the CinC site to get a good grounding in the basics; then try this one http://www.ronbigelow.com/articles/c...1/curves-1.htm

    That is just a suggested starting point; work your way through everything which is there. It will take a bit of time.

    Everything you could think about asking will be answered there. But it does assume that you already have a reasonable level of understanding then quickly goes into considerable detail.

    Some sample photos with which you are having problems might help to explain things more clearly.

    But starting from what you have already written.

    Are you shooting Raw or Jpeg?

    I use Curves for most of my editing work as it is a little bit more sensitive than using Levels. But for substantial adjustments, levels can work better.

    LCE can be used to add a little extra 'punch' to a rather flat image. But use it with care and only when needed. Some people use it for everything and it can produce an 'over processed' appearance in the wrong hands.

    I usually work around 20 or 30% at 30 or 40 pixels; but that is merely an average starting point.

    Mostly, I use an Adjustment Layer and vary the layer blend mode to produce similar but more subtle results. For example, set the blend mode to Soft Light at around 50% opacity. Using Overlay blend mode and less opacity creates a stronger effect.

    Eventually, when you start to make more sense of the various options, try editing the same image in a number of different ways and note the differences. Printing out the results and writing down exactly what you did in each case will prove helpful.

  3. #3
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    Re: Tone Curve, Sliders, Black/White/Highlight/Shadow, LCE, and more...

    Hi Matt,

    as a set, your questions are way too big to answer in posts. E.g., local contrast adjustment (clarity in Lightroom-speak) alone would require someone to essentially recreate a long tutorial. So I agree with Geoff: start with the tutorials here. There are also good resources elsewhere, e.g., the "learning" tab at photo.net. Once you can narrow things down more, post again. folks here are extremely helpful.

    Dan

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    Re: Tone Curve, Sliders, Black/White/Highlight/Shadow, LCE, and more...

    Hi Matt

    You've opened a window onto a large field! I think your best bet is to get hold of a book called "The Digital Negative" by Jeff Schewe. Published last year by PeachPit Press. He works logically through the whole process and options in RAW processing using ACR, Lightroom, and Photoshop. He deals with the similarities, overlaps, and complementarities (and some contradictions) between all the tonal adjustment controls and everything else as well. Also shows where ACR and Lightroom are the same, merely similar, and quite different.

    Cheers

    Tim

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    FlyingSquirrel's Avatar
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    Re: Tone Curve, Sliders, Black/White/Highlight/Shadow, LCE, and more...

    Thank you very much, Geoff, Dan, and Tim. Your advice has me in the right direction, which is exactly what I needed.

    Geoff, I'm shooting RAW then PP in LR, then PS if needed (which is basically 100% of the time ). Your tips are awesome! And that link is great. Will read up on that.

    Dan, thanks for the tip. I'll head over to photo.net and begin reading.

    Tim, thanks for the book suggestion. That book looks amazing and I have a feeling it is EXACTLY what I need. I'd love to get it but funds are not available at the moment. It will certainly be the next thing I purchase though. I can't wait to take my editing to the next level.

    Thanks guys

  6. #6

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    Re: Tone Curve, Sliders, Black/White/Highlight/Shadow, LCE, and more...

    Hi Matt,

    You've received first-rate advice for teaching materials. Two other resources I found valuable in learning PP are

    http://luminous-landscape.com/
    and
    http://www.earthboundlight.com

    I still enjoy the repeated iterations of read, play, think, question, read . . . If you do, too, then there's nothing to fear, you'll get there. Speaking of playing, the best LR pointer I can give you is simply, double click on just about any slider and it will return to default. Corollary to that, if in the History panel at the left you pick any history state below the most recent you will see the image as it was then (but watch out! if you issue an instruction, i.e., touch a slider, etc., you will erase anything you have done subsequent to that state). You can create a snapshot of the image at any state without obliterating all subsequent work. These are handy ways to assess the amount and direction of progress.

  7. #7
    FlyingSquirrel's Avatar
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    Re: Tone Curve, Sliders, Black/White/Highlight/Shadow, LCE, and more...

    Hendrik, thank you very much for the links, tips, and encouragement. It's very helpful and appreciated. It looks like you are relatively new to the forums. Welcome! I look forward to hearing and seeing more from you

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