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  Photo Retouching with Photoshop®
Levels Adjustment - Part 3

This is the third tutorial on using the Photoshop Levels Adjustment. Like the previous tutorial, this example explores another way to use the Levels Adjustment to correct tonal values. This time we will use the Auto Levels Adjustment feature then manually adjust the Input Levels to tweak the automatic adjustment. The "Auto" Levels Adjustment does not always yield a good result, but sometimes it is worth a try. Usually, when I do use it, I will use it in combination with a manual adjustment of some kind similar to this tutorial.

1. This photo is slightly underexposed. The Auto Levels Adjustment can be done two ways. One way is by clicking Image > Adjustments > Levels (or Image > Adjust> Levels with older versions of Photoshop). This way will permanently alter the pixels.

2. Like the previous tutorial, we want to add an Adjustment Layer to make the Levels Adjustment so the pixels will not be permanently altered. Click Layer > New Adjustment Layer (or Layer > New > Adjustment Layer for older versions of Photoshop). Give the layer a name or accept the default name it gives you and click the "OK" button.

3. Below is a Flash Video showing you how to make the Levels adjustment. First click the "Auto" button. After the automatic levels adjustment, the photo is still a little bit dark, so we want to shift the midtones of the image to lighten them slightly. Drag the small gray triangle in the center at the bottom of the histogram between the white and black triangle on either end. Drag this traingle to the left just slightly. Make sure the Preview checkbox is checked so you can see the effect of this adjustment as you make it. After you have made the adjustment, click the "OK" button.

3. After the Levels Adjustments you can see that the tonal values are more balanced. Again, the "Auto" Levels Adjustment does not always yield a good result. In my experience I rarely use it, but sometimes it produces miraculous results that I could not do in a million years with manual adjustments. It is definitely a good option to keep in mind when photo retouching with Photoshop.


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