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Adjusting Levels Manually

The Levels dialog box can do more to improve the overall tonal quality of your image than any other workspace in Photoshop Elements. Many images, whether scanned or imported from a digital camera, don't contain the full tonal range, and as a result lack sufficient contrast. That lack of contrast translates into loss of detail, usually most noticeably in the shadow and highlight areas. Using the histogram and sliders in the Levels dialog box, you darken the darkest pixels and lighten the lightest ones to improve contrast, then adjust the brightness levels in the midtones.

To adjust the tonal range:

  1. From the Enhance menu, choose Adjust Lighting > Levels, or press Ctrl+L to open the Levels dialog box ( Figure 3.26 ).
    03fig26.gif

    Figure 3.26 The Levels dialog box.

  2. With the Preview box selected, drag the slider on the left until it rests directly below the left edge of the histogram graph ( Figure 3.27 ).
    03fig27.gif

    Figure 3.27 Moving the left slider underneath the left edge of the histogram spreads the darker pixels more evenly into the dark areas of the midtones and shifts the darkest pixels to black.

    The image darkens as the darkest pixels in the image move closer to black.
  3. Drag the slider on the right until it rests directly below the right edge of the graph ( Figure 3.28 ).
    03fig28.gif

    Figure 3.28 The right slider affects the lightest pixels in the image. Moving the right slider underneath the right edge of the histogram spreads the lighter pixels more evenly into the light areas of the midtones and shifts the lightest pixels to white, resulting in more detail in the highlight areas.colorsadjustingmanuallytonal rangesadjusting

    The image lightens as the lightest pixels in the image move closer to white.
  4. Drag the middle slider to the left or right to adjust the brightness level of the pixels that fall in the midtones.
  5. Click OK to close the Levels dialog box.
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