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The Curves control allows you to impact the mid-tones of your image. It can also be used to adjust contrast.

This is what the image looked like when we started...


This is what it looked like after a Levels adjustment.


Now look at it after a Curves adjustment.


The image really "pops" now. A great deal more detail is made obvious. This was achieved by adjusting the mid-tones and giving a "S" shape to the curve in the Curves dialogue.

This adjustment can be applied directly to the image's pixels by choosing the Curves tool from the Image/Adjustments menu. However, we want to use an adjustment layer, as discussed previously.

How do we do this with layers? View the Curves video and then return here for a text explanation.

Curves Video

By clicking and dragging on the center of the curve we can adjust mid-tones in the image. Dragging up will brighten the mid-tones, and dragging down will darken the mid-tones. You will have to decide which has to be done, and by how much. Again, this is a subjective decision that depends upon what your intent is.

Most digital images benefit by another tweak of contrast here. We do this by adding two points to the curve to give it a slight "S" shape as seen in the video. Again this is a subjective decision that is dependent upon the image being edited.

Because you have used an adjustment layer to perform this task, you can come back to the layer, open the adjustment, and make changes any time you wish - even after other adjustments have been made to the image. Best of all, you have not changed the pixels in the image at all. No image degradation has taken place. We can be assured that, at the end of our editing session, we will have an image of the highest quality.



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