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How to boost contrast using levels & curves - An Adobe Photoshop tutorial

In this tutorial I am going to show you a much better way to adjust the contrast in your photos by using the levels and curves tools in either Adobe Photoshop, or Adobe Lightroom.

While there is a standard contrast tool in both these and many other image editing programs, they can be rather blunt instruments which don't allow much room for flexibility. They will simply darken the blacks and brighten the highlights proportionately.

But not every image is suitable for this. A misty or hazy scene like the one below, is a high key image that is naturally low in contrast, because there are no deep shadows or dark colours within the scene itself. Wacking up the contrast in a scene like this would look totally unnatural.

So with the levels and curves tools, I will show you how you can control how much the highlights are brightened, and how much the shadows are darkened, independently of each other.

See the two examples below. The first is a low contrast scene that needed just a subtle increase in contrast, but mostly to the highlights. The second is a higher high contrast scene which needed more adjustment of both the shadows and the highlights. The third is an extremely high contrast scene, which required more adjustment to the shadows and only a touch to the highlights.

Original
Contrast adjusted
Original
Contrast adjusted
Original
Contrast adjusted
So sit back, relax and watch my video tutorial on how to take control of how you adjust the contrast in your photos
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