Adobe Photoshop CC - Essentials Training

How to fix an image using levels in Photoshop CC

Daniel Walter Scott

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Hi there, in this video we're going to look at something called Levels. It's the thing I do the most in Photoshop. I open up an image, and I sharpen up the blacks and the whites. Ready, steady. Cool, huh! 
There's another example, looks good, and then bam, looks better. What we're doing is making the blacks and the whites super strong using something called Levels. Let's go do it now in Photoshop. All right, let's get started. 

So from your 'Exercise Files', go to 'File', 'Open'. We're working in our Exercise Files. We're going to be using '02 Color', so double click to go inside there. Inside of here, we're going to open up 'Levels 01'. Click 'Open'. First thing is, we're going to find this 'Adjustments' panel. So this is where we'll find lots of the adjustments we're going to do in this 'Color' section. If you can't find it, go to 'Window', come down until you find 'Adjustments'. And it should have a little tick next to it. If you hover above them all, you can kind of see, I can't point to it as well, but you can see, the name appears up here, watch. 

The one you're looking for is Levels. It's this kind of Histogram looking bar chart type thing. Click on him once. What ends up happening is, nothing, except know that we've got this new layer, that we'll talk about in a little bit, and this big ugly thing opens up. Now this thing is simpler than it looks because-- let me show you the technique here. Basically this is all the color information in our document. You'll notice down the bottom here, there's a black pointer, there's a kind of a gray one, and a white one. Basically what it's showing is, is that there's no really white information, and no really black information. There is a chunk of other stuff. There's quite a lot of light gray. You can kind of see, in here there's a lot of light gray. And even then, that doesn't really matter. 

Basically what you want to do is grab the dark guy. Drag him to the right, click, hold, and drag him. How far? Just keep an eye on my image over here. You can see, the further I drag it the darker it gets. What we want to do is basically drag it to the kind of first hump. So, half way up the first little hump here and you'll notice that if I turn my Preview on and off, so my Levels layer here, turn the eyeball on and off, it just really sharpens up the shadows or the dark parts. 

Same with the other side, grab the white, drag it to the left. And how far do you drag it? Basically just half way up the first hump or at least until you feel like it's looking good. There's no like absolute science here, it really depends on your image. That's a really good place to start. Drag both ends in until they're half way up the hump, and often it will fix your image. There's no specific way to drag it, it just depends on your image. So I can drag it to the left, it lightens it up and I drag it to the right, and it darkens it up. So really depends where you want it to be. I'm just dragging it back and forth looking in the image till I find something that I like. 

Remember, turn the eye on and off. Have I made it better? Have I made it worse? It's better, it's pretty over saturated, it's pretty sharp. And that my friends is how Levels work. And it is the thing I do most often when I open up an image. Especially if there's something I've taken myself. It's a way to kind of really get the rich blacks and the pure whites. And what Photoshop has done is that it's put it on a layer that I can turn on and off. So later on I can come back to this and either make adjustments, or just turn it off, go back to the original. It's very quick, it's very easy. 

What you're going to do now is a little exercise, go to 'File', go to 'Open', and there's one in there called 'Levels 02'. Now what I've done throughout this course is that if there's ones I've taken from a website called Unsplash-- Unsplash is a cool website for commercial use images that you don't have to pay for. The only thing that they require is that you leave the artist name, and where it came from. So that's what I'm doing, so this one came from a paid stock library site that don't require it, I paid to use it. This one here, I didn't pay for, but Matthew Hamilton, and his amazing photography just needs to be credited here. 

Anyway, so open up 'Levels 02', click 'Open'. Go through the same process here. Go to 'Adjustments' panel, find 'Levels', drag the hills in from both sides. The center slider, try left and right, depending on what you're looking for. That will give you some practice with the most common thing to do in Photoshop, in my opinion. In my current opinion, it is time to get on to the next video. All right, see you over there.