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Part I:: Mastering the Basics > Tools for Adjusting Tones

Chapter 4. Tools for Adjusting Tones

One key step in retouching any image, whether the photo is black-and-white or color, is adjusting the relationship between the dark, light, and middle tones of an image, which we call the tonal range. The whole process can easily be confusing for tyro image retouchers (and veterans alike, at times), because the factors involved can be complex if you don’t keep the basics in mind as you work.

For example, a given image may appear to be too dark, so all you have to do is lighten all the tones, right? Wrong! If you lighten all the pixels equally, you’ll probably make the very lightest pixels in your dark image too light, so the detail in them is lost. The same is true for an image that appears to be too light. Darken all the pixels equally and you end up with dirty gray highlights. Fuss with the tones enough, and you’ll start to mess up the color values of your image as well.


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