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Thread: Levels and Curves

  1. #41
    Wayland's Avatar
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    Re: Levels and Curves

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Buckley View Post
    Never having worked in a darkroom, I have always wondered about that though I have never asked. It seems so obvious to this non-user of darkrooms that the electronic post-processing offers so much more control and without the mess of chemicals. When I think of the mercury vapors that photographers were exposed to when making Dageurotypes (I never remember how to spell that word), I cringe.
    I definitely miss seeing a picture starting to appear in the developer dish and I actually miss the smell of hypo.

    There's a "quality" about black and white wet prints that I've never been able to recreate in digital for some reason.

    It's not an inferiority in the system or anything like that it's just some kind of presence that's difficult to define.

    Having said that, I now have a level of control over colour work that was simply undreamed of then.

  2. #42
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    Re: Levels and Curves

    Hi Photo Nut,

    No worries, will do. I would not know where to begin with your photo. I have a white swan that I think will be good to play with because it has white and black in it...

    I see you are showing me a creative demonstration of a W curve?

    Christina

  3. #43
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    Re: Levels and Curves

    Okay, one last question and only to check that my edits using curves and levels. (Well the white point and black point in curves because in Lightroom I think this is levels but without the tone adjustment as in photoshop elements 9 where levels can only be accessed once one is finished editing in raw)

    I have not done all the tutorials yet but followed the advice from Dave, John and Steve's detailed guideline and I'm pretty sure I understand the basics, but it will take practice, doing all the tutorials, and a little more time for me to fully grasp it. I think using the levels and curve adjustment helps to bring out the detail in the photo, but too much use destroys the photo, ie; it is not a miracle worker

    A reverse S curve on a goose brought out the details in the black

    Levels and Curves


    And just using the curves and levels helped bring out the white details in the swan, more so than hitting auto tone which overexposed the swan.

    Levels and Curves


    Levels and Curves


    Levels and Curves

    versus auto tone

    Levels and Curves

    Did I do okay with the above edits? I know I can do more with these photos but for now I just wanted to focus on playing and learning to use curves and levels.

    But in the case of photos that are just not good enough, ie; trying to photography herons in action up a tall tree, I learned that it is just impossible to fix these types of photos to have any quality as the tools introduce noise and posterization and sap all the colour and details out of the photo... So I should give up on my herons until I can get closer? (No matter how cute they are) And I could see it in the histogram!


    [IMG]http://i1098.photobucket.com/albums/g375/ChristinaStobbs/learning%20herons


    Levels and Curves/learningherons6.jpg[/IMG]


    Levels and Curves

    Levels and Curves
    Last edited by Brownbear; 13th April 2013 at 01:48 AM.

  4. #44

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    Re: Levels and Curves

    I think you are doing well with all the photos and it boils down to what you prefer or what is more accurate a representation of the bird itself. I prefer the cooler versions but I have no idea of what the birds look like.

  5. #45
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    Re: Levels and Curves

    Hi Christina and others.

    As I understand it, the four LR sliders (highlights, whites, shadows, blacks, plus exposure) are used in the same was as Levels in PSE in that they can be used to set white and black points, but then give more control over the rest of the histogram. Is that right?

    What advantages do curves in PSE have over curves in LR?

    Thanks,

    Dave
    Last edited by davidedric; 13th April 2013 at 12:30 PM. Reason: correction

  6. #46
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    Re: Levels and Curves

    Hi Dave,

    I hope I can answer your question and that someone will jump in and correct any mistakes I make.

    When one is starting from a raw photo, yes, I think that the four LR Sliders allow more control over the histogram than Photoshop Elements 9, because in raw in Elements setting the white point is not an option. The sliders are for exposure, fill light, blacks, brightness, contrast, clarity, vibrancy, saturation, white balance, temperature and sharpening.

    In Elements 9 one cannot access curves or levels until the image is opened in the full editing program. Here the curves tool offers presets which include back lit, darken highlights, default, increase contrast, increase midtones and lighten shadows... There are sliders to play with which include shadows, highlights, mid tone contrast and mid tone brightness but no individual colour choices (ie; red, blue, green). Also in Elements 9 one cannot pick a point on the curve and drag anywhere - changes to the histogram can be made only by dragging the sliders.

    In Elements 9 Levels is also only accessible in the editing program. (not raw) One can set the black and the white point, and choose from the RGB, blue, green or red channels which allows full control over the histogram using sliders. I think I like/prefer this tool in Elements 9 as the visual of the histogram and seeing each tone change individually alongside the histogram lets you see with ease, exactly what tones you are changing and how.

    As this is the first time I've played with the curves tool in LR, I suspect that the LR tool is a combination of levels and curves.

    I think the curves tool in LR is far better, and offers more advantages than the curves tool in Elements 9, especially because it can be used in raw and because the curve and points of the curve can be dragged.

    From doing this exercise I discovered that I like LR for the curves tool, and Elements 9 for the levels tool.

    Hoping someone will jump in and provide a better explanation.



    Quote Originally Posted by davidedric View Post
    Hi Christina and others.

    As I understand it, the four LR sliders (highlights, whites, shadows, blacks, plus exposure) are used in the same was as Levels in PSE in that they can be used to set white and black points, but then give more control over the rest of the histogram. Is that right?

    What advantages do curves in PSE have over curves in LR?

    Thanks,

    Dave

  7. #47

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    Re: Levels and Curves

    Quote Originally Posted by Christina S View Post
    From doing this exercise I discovered that I like LR for the curves tool, and Elements 9 for the levels tool.
    As someone explained earlier in the thread, if the Curves tool allows you to set the black and white points and make all of the detailed adjustments to the other parts of the curve, you have no need for a Levels tool.

  8. #48
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    Re: Levels and Curves

    Thank you Mike... Yes, but for some reason I wonder if adjusting levels and curves separately might be more advantageous?

    Like 2 in 1 Shampoo... Using a separate quality shampoo and hair conditioner results in finer looking hair than the 2 in 1 product?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Buckley View Post
    As someone explained earlier in the thread, if the Curves tool allows you to set the black and white points and make all of the detailed adjustments to the other parts of the curve, you have no need for a Levels tool.
    Last edited by Brownbear; 13th April 2013 at 03:38 PM.

  9. #49

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    Re: Levels and Curves

    Your analogy doesn't work for me because the shampoo and conditioner have two different purposes, whereas the Curve and Levels tool have the same purpose.

    The Curve tool allows you to adjust the curve by setting anchor points and dragging the curve. The Levels tool allows you to adjust the curve using sliders, which may be an easier method though you have to accept the compromise that it provides less control of the shape of the curve.

  10. #50
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    Re: Levels and Curves

    Thank you Mike. Makes sense to me and therefore I will use the curves tool in LR for both.

  11. #51
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    Re: Levels and Curves

    Quote Originally Posted by Christina S View Post
    Okay, one last question and only to check that my edits using curves and levels. (Well the white point and black point in curves because in Lightroom I think this is levels but without the tone adjustment as in photoshop elements 9 where levels can only be accessed once one is finished editing in raw)

    I have not done all the tutorials yet but followed the advice from Dave, John and Steve's detailed guideline and I'm pretty sure I understand the basics, but it will take practice, doing all the tutorials, and a little more time for me to fully grasp it. I think using the levels and curve adjustment helps to bring out the detail in the photo, but too much use destroys the photo, ie; it is not a miracle worker

    A reverse S curve on a goose brought out the details in the black

    Levels and Curves

    ...
    Christina, I'm not an expert on curves and levels but very much like your Canada goose closeup. Was this a tame goose that allowed you to get very close to or were you using a high powered telephoto?

  12. #52
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    Re: Levels and Curves

    Hi Bruce, Thank you for liking my goose.. I took this photo in Stanley Park, so not a tame goose but likely used to seeing people. There were two geese hanging about the grass having a nosh, so I sat down on the grass and just waited for them to get used to me, and gradually moved closer. It seems to work with geese and ducks but not so much with herons.

    I have a Nikon D80 and an Tamron 200-400 lens. Aperture priority because I wanted to blur the background, SS 1/250 (should have been faster for this lens) 250 mm Exp +.7 Matrix metering

  13. #53
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    Re: Levels and Curves

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Buckley View Post
    As someone explained earlier in the thread, if the Curves tool allows you to set the black and white points and make all of the detailed adjustments to the other parts of the curve, you have no need for a Levels tool.
    A steel ruler and an Olfa (layout) knife can only make one kind of cut; but for many tasks in design and paste-up, it is precisely the kind of cut one needs to be making. Scissors, despite being capable of many more things than a ruler and a knife, just can't "cut it" at these simple tasks which, during production sessions (where time is a constraint), often demand a high degree accuracy, consistency, and speed.

    Similarly, if Levels will do exactly what you need to be doing with an image then it can often be a better choice than Curves.

  14. #54

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    Re: Levels and Curves

    Quote Originally Posted by John Morton View Post
    Similarly, if Levels will do exactly what you need to be doing with an image then it can often be a better choice than Curves.
    I totally agree, John. I would go even farther to say that if Levels will do exactly what you need, the simplicity of using the Levels tool will always be the better of the two choices. However, that's a very big if.

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