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Andy's Workshop > Project 4: Enhancing Image Contrast

Project 4: Enhancing Image Contrast

Skills and Tools: Curves Adjustment Layer, Layer Masks, and Paintbrush

Contrast enhancement differs from sharpening. When you sharpen an image, you're attempting to fool the eye into seeing a sharper edge. In other words the image looks more in focus. When you enhance contrast, you're attempting to give the image more separation between the shadows and highlights. In other words, you want your whites whiter, and your darks darker. While Photoshop has an Auto Contrast adjustment (click the Image menu, point to Adjustment, and click Auto Contrast), you will gain much more control over the process if you perform the operation using Curves. The technique you are about to learn will give you a greater understanding of how Curves performs, and let you, not Auto Contrast, decide exactly what areas of the image are to be enhanced. You should understand that enhancing contrast essentially, compresses tonal values within the image. This technique is called a standard "S" contrast curve, and will work to increase the contrast on almost any image. Before you get started, remember, if you are too aggressive, the image will being to look a bit posterized, and you will see banding occur within transitional shadows. Therefore, a soft hand on the controls is recommended.

The Project

In this project you'll bump the contrast of a dull image. The process is simple to accomplish, and will help to kick up the contrast values of any image.


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