Eric, aka Tip Squirrel this week takes a look into Curve Elements available in Photoshop and Photoshop Elements.

Photoshop has some powerful correction and enhancement Adjustment layers including Curves and it’s little sister Levels.

In both there’s an unobtrusive Auto button; you may have tried it with limited results as we all have, but don’t discount it just yet.

With a document open head down to the bottom of the Layers panel where you’ll find the Adjustment Layer icon. It looks like a black and white circle.

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Open a Levels or Curves Adjustment layer

In my case I’ll open a Curves layer as we’ll be able to see a little clearer whats happening:

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The Auto Button

In the dialogue box that appears you’ll notice an Auto button in the top right. Clicking this will evoke Photoshop to adjust the image .

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Here you can see that has made a very small change. Photoshop has bought the midpoint down a little.

Choosing an Algorithm

If this isn’t quite how you’d like, hold down the Alt (PC) or Option (Mac) key and click the Auto button again.

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This will give you a new dialogue box with a choice of algorithms. In older versions of Photoshop there’ll be three choices, here you can see I have four.

Enhance Brightness and Contrast is the new default and will work well in most cases, but lets take a look at what happens with the other three:

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As you can see here, each option changes the image in a subtle yet different way, but there’s another option too:

Target Colours and Clipping Points

Below these options is another set of options that allow you to set the clipping point of the shadow, mid-tone and highlights. Clicking on a swatch will open up the colour picker and from here you can choose the tone, and colour to clip.

In the example below I’ve chosen a very dark yellow to give a washed out ‘retro’ feel to the image;

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Changing the Clip percentage will love the shadow or highlight points in. In the case of the Shadows for example, changing the setting to 1% means that the top 1% of darkest tones will be made black, much like using the Black slider in Adobe Camera Raw.

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You can see here that we can utilise the Curves and Levels Auto settings far more than just clicking it.

As always, a big thanks to Eric for supplying this super detailed tutorial. Check out more of his tutorials on his websiteYouTube and you can find him on Facebook and Twitter should you wish to get in touch with him!