Using Curves in Photoshop: Basic Editing

While I was out today I took this photo with my camera. Not too impressive, but my camera phone is all I had with me. I decided to make it look better with a few tips I learned in a Photoshop class I took during the UK Photoday. I believe you can do similar things in Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop Elements.

The historic Red Mile Barn

I opened my photo in Photoshop, then changed my locked background layer into it’s own layer, ‘Layer 0’. You can do this by right clicking and then clicking on ‘Layer from Background’. This just allows you to edit the photo.

I then went to the toolbar located at the bottom of the ‘Layers’ panel and clicked on the circle that’s half black and half white. I then selected the ‘Curves’ option and it brought up this box.

It will automatically open the Channel: RGB, if your photo is taken with that color setting (what a jpeg color photo will be). I then moved around the ‘curve’. You will usually make an S curve for more contrast and a backwards S curve for less contrast. Mine just ended up being a bowed out curve. Move around the curve and see how it changes the photo. You can also create as many points along the curve as you want by just clicking on the curve. You can remove the point by hitting ‘Ctrl’ on the keyboard and clicking that point you want to go away. You can also select either red, blue, or green individually under the ‘Channel’ drop down menu. Using curves is better than using levels for example, because it does not destroy the photo’s histogram, which is the backbone of the photo’s exposure. It also creates a special layer, so you can always delete the ‘curves’ layer if you don’t like it.

After using a few tools such as curves, exposure, and brightness/contrast, I had edited my photo taken with my phone and made it look better. I also took out the power lines using the Clone Stamp Tool, and cropped it to make the barn more eye catching.


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