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  #1 (permalink)  
Old March 17th, 2017
Gnutella Muse
Join Date: January 14th, 2008
Location: Malta (EU)
Posts: 241
Joe Busuttil has a spectacular aura about
Default Adjustment with levels in Photosohp CS6

Something has gone wrong with my use of adjustments of brightness using levels in Photoshop CS6.

Following is the method I always used successfully until it would not work today:-

Step 1 Click on IMAGE
Step 2 Click on ADJUSTMENTS
Step 3 Click on LEVELS
Step 4 Shift the black arrow to the required brightness/contrast desired.
Step 5 As the black arrow is shifted, the picture on the monitor darkens
according to the desired level.

Problem: The picture does not darken at all.

Hope I am making myself clear, and I send my thanks in advance for your help.

Finally, sorry I don't know how to enter in the above message a screenshot of the dialog box showing the black arrow.

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Old March 17th, 2017
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Join Date: June 30th, 2004
Location: Middle of the ocean apparently (middle earth)
Posts: 613
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Firstly, I would hope you do all of this within Masks (effects layers/Create new fill or Adjustment layer.) At least then you can go back & adjust after viewing on screen or doing a print-out & checking the results. Mask layers can either be adjusted or deleted. I also prefer to duplicate the Background layer before doing this. So then all masks will apply to the overriding duplicate layer.

Secondly, for color/brightness adjustments, I often prefer to convert the image to CMYK because RGB can be difficult to work with for color adjustments. CMYK for printing. RGB for purpose of web-posting/on-screen viewing. There are positives and negatives to both profiles. CMYK can sometimes be a little lacking in the brighter hues. If you notice any visual change by switching to CMYK then undo the change. RGB is an additive format combining RGB.

These kinds of adjustments (levels & curves) can potentially become complex & it does help if you have sourced some form of training such as from the Photoshop tutorials (I suspect 'Levels' is included.) There's lots & lots that I've forgotten.

Optional: convert image to CMYK first via Image menu -> Mode -> CMYK.

1. Duplicate Background layer.
2. Create new fill or Adjustment layer & choose 'Levels ...' from the Layers palette/window.
3. This replicates #4 & #5 in your instructions. You have a black point, grey point (in middle) & white point to far right in the graph sample reference points.
There are various ways you can adjust these black, grey & white points. You may notice if you shift the grey point to the right the image darkens.
You can also choose options from the color sampling. If you converted the image to CMYK in the beginning then this menu will show CMYK by default, meaning all changes will affect all colors. However, you can also select any of the specific CMYK colors (K = black) from this drop-down menu so you can work specifically with this.

At top of this levels window is another drop-down menu with presets. Here you can adjust the mid-tones to be brighter or darker, adjust the light or dark colors, etc.

When it comes to color and brightness adjustments sometimes you might only need to work upon a certain range (of colors or the darkest or lightest or mid-tones, etc.)

You can make final adjustments using the Output Levels portion at bottom of that window.

Curves allows you to adjust specific ranges of colors or tones. I generally use this. You will notice some similarities between the Curves window & Levels window. In the graph shown, it will show the levels of colors in each range. You can click upon the graph's line & a dot will appear, you can click again to choose another work point to work specifically upon a small range of colors or tones. Then you can drag the line between the two black dots up or down or even across to lighten or darken or even change the characteristics of the color. Again, there is a CMYK (or RGB) drop down menu & other options in that menu mean you can work upon specific colors.
The far-left of the graph's line refers to the darkest colors/tones, the middle represents the mid-tones & the far-right represents the lightest tones.

You might find 'Curves' to be a far easier and better option for your purpose.

Adjustment with levels in Photosohp CS6-curves-adjustment-layer.gif

A very quick example of selecting a range of blacks in the picture to adjust. First frame shows the image is in CMYK mode. 2nd frame shows I've selected specifically black to work upon. Then I select a range where I wish the black to be stronger or weaker. Note that I not only chose two work between points to adjust but also added a point before and after so that adjustments will have a lesser effect upon other ranges before & after. (Though this is not necessary, without this means it will shift information from the closest areas outside the work area to within it, or vice-versa.) The final frame #5 shows how I lifted the curve but it will only be affecting a portion of the picture's blacks within a certain greyscale color/tonal range.
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Old March 18th, 2017
Lord of the Rings's Avatar
Join Date: June 30th, 2004
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Default Destructive processing

Don't be too concerned about this, I just wanted to make this point anyway.

Image processing has similarities to Audio processing. A point I tried to make here
For example, if you use an Equalizer (audio filters) upon the music file, it means some information will be shifted from one bandwidth to a nearby one and some other information will be thrown away. This also applies similarly to image manipulation when applied to levels, curves or any other brightness or color changes.

So let's say an image file has 200 dots of color and tonal information. If you adjust the color in the image, it will shift some tonal/color dots from one color bandwidth to another whilst simultaneously throwing a dot or few away.

Once destructive processing is used upon an image or audio file it will never be the same again. One reason it is best to work with layers (possible with some audio processing apps also) and also retaining backups of the original files and possibly also backups of work files at certain points of processing so you can always go back to a certain point in time of processing to fix things up.

Photoshop makes it quite easy to do this with layers. And sometimes you might even wish to duplicate an effects layer to make further changes but retain the previous one as a hidden layer just in case.
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