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amytude Feb 29, 2004 9:59 PM

Need opinions on this pic...
Here's the original photo:

And here is what I did with it in ps2:

What else would you recommend? The background was a navy blue (actually my tablecloth!). Should it be lighter/darker/have more contrast? Thanks for your opinions!


PS Wasn't sure where to post this, so I also posted in the ps forum.

selvin Feb 29, 2004 10:51 PM

My, what big eyes.
The pictures may need a bit of lightening because of the background but they seem fuzzy. Is that deliberate?

ohenry Feb 29, 2004 10:57 PM

I think you overdid the brightness a bit. What method did you use to lighten the subject? What were your camera settings? I have to agree with Selvin that the picture is not as sharp as one might want. Handheld or tripod?

amytude Feb 29, 2004 11:07 PM

Thanks, guys...what am I still doing up at this hour????

Anyway, this was handheld on the floor of my family room, as my 8 mos. old decided to be adorable. Yes, I think it looks too bright as well. I did a couple of methods. I tried adjusting the brightness using "adjust brightness/contrast", then "levels". I can't remember my camera settings, but they were way off, as you can tell by the original. It was taken indoors with both natural & lamp lighting, as well as flash. I'm trying to learn what levels to plug into the USM feature to get a sharper photo. But, I did do the USM.

Should I try the USM again to get sharper pic? I obviously saved my original that's been left unedited. Also, I think I tend to like "softer" pictures (esp. with babies & portraits), so I don't always see what I need to see.


ohenry Feb 29, 2004 11:44 PM

First thing, Amy....the brightness/contrast adjustment....FORGET it even exists! It is not the best way to control your brightness or contrast.

I would recommend working with adjustment layers for tonal changes. Create a levels adjustment layer using the Layers>Make new adjustment layer>Levels command from the menu.

Examine the histogram. The histogram is a composite each of the three RGB channels. Black is represented at the extreme left and white at the far right. The histogram shows you how many pixels exist at each tonal value. The taller the chart is at any given point, the larger the number of pixels in the image that have the tonal value at that point. If the histogram bottoms out at any point, it is an indication that no pixels exist within that tonal range.

If the histogram appears cut off at the left side, it indicates a lack of detail in the shadows. Conversely, if it is cut off at the left side, it indicates loss of detail in the highlights.

As a general rule, you want the darkest pixels black and the lightest pixels white. You can do this by adjust the black and white points on the slider. Move the black slider to the point where the histogram begins on the left side. Slide the white slider to the point where the histogram begins on the right. Slide the middle slider left or right to adjust the lightness to what looks best to you.

You can adjust points along the curve using the curves adjustment. Again, I would recommend using an adjustment layer instead of directly on the original. Using the curves, you can adjust tonal areas with more control than you can with levels. One of the most powerful ways to get a bit more contrast and punch is the use of an S curve. Each image will differ obviously, and you will get a feel for how these adjustments work as you play with them. In general, set an anchor point at the middle grey area (middle of the curve. Then set an anchor point at the 1/4 points. Pull the anchor points up or down and observe what happens to your image. Pulling the upper anchor upwards will lighten the highlights, pulling downward on the lower anchor point will darken the shadows (anc conversely). Again, play with it and watch what happens to your image.

Regarding sharpness in PS, don't overdo it. Sharpening an image in PS too much will look fake. When taking pictures of people, make your focus point on the eye. If the eyes are sharp, the picture looks much better.

Hope this helps a bit.

eric s Mar 1, 2004 9:06 AM


First off, your first shot wasn't "way off" don't be that hard on yourself!

Ok, now to the picture.

Well, actually... I had little to add to what ohenry said (great info, I wondered what that middle mark did in levels!) I just wanted to suggest two things to back up what he said.

This has a brief section on sharpening, but it also talks about layers and levels. You might find that helpful. Heck, I should read it again... it has good stuff.

I also think that some of the lightening worked, but other parts didn't. The torso & legs look good to me, but the face & left shoulder is too much.


amytude Mar 1, 2004 9:30 AM

Thanks, Eric for being so friendly. I guess I'm hard on myself b/c everyone here seems to know so much already. It seems like newbies really aren't newbies or don't stick around long enough to learn anything (just to ask the "what camera should I buy?" question).

I like that web site, short and to the point. I understand about using the levels adjustment and creating a layer for it. NOw, I'm confused about the curves. Does elements have this capability, cause I can't find it! I even did a search and looked through two books I have. Help if you can...thanks...


ohenry Mar 1, 2004 9:43 AM

My bad Amy. Elements does not have the curves adjustment. But the levels command works the same. BTW, Eric is right; your picture wasn't bad (In fact, I personally liked the original best).

amytude Mar 1, 2004 11:41 AM

Thanks so much, ohenry. I'm glad to know I'm not going crazy. Well, I like that my son stands out better in the first. I don't like that his eyes are are so grey (he has beautiful blue eyes). Thanks so much, after this little post I realized I really need to spend some more time with photoshop. Now, where to find that time with 2 little boys...hmmmm, anyone wanna babysit???? You'd have some great subjects to photograph :wink:


digcamfan Mar 1, 2004 12:25 PM

Hi Amytude...

It is great that you take the time and effort to photograph your boys :)

Keep up the good work!

You are building a wonderful digital "album" for your boys!


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