I’m neck-deep in yearbooks this time of year – one just about done, the other barely underway!
One thing that comes up over and over, I thought I should share with you. It makes me CRAZY when I see a page with one or two dark photos!! I’m always harping on my yearbook kids to check levels on their images before they call the page done – and this applies to scrapbooks too.
I often see beautiful layouts that people have worked hard on with dark or otherwise poor images that could be improved with just a few clicks. So here’s what I tell my yearbook kiddles to do on EVERY image (whether you THINK it needs it or not!):
1. Hold your CTRL key and press L (CTRL+L) to bring up the Levels dialog box. (If you forget, it’s under Image>Adjustments>Levels in PS; Enhance>Adjust Lighting>Levels in PSE)
You will get an image like this:
The diagram there is called a histogram – it’s a graph of the lightness/ darkness of the pixels in this image. Across the bottom is a scale from BLACK (on the left) to WHITE on the right. The “mountain” is a bar graph showing the number of pixels that correspond with that shade of grey. So in this image, most of the pixels are in the midrange, making it low contrast and not the greatest pic. But we can improve that.
Notice there are flat lines at the right and left of the “mountain”. This means there are no pixels that are pure black or pure white – giving you a muddy pic.
To correct this, you…
2. Click on the little triangles at the outside edges and slide them in to “meet the mountain”.
This will make the darkest pixel in the image black, and the lightest pixel in the image white. You can see the difference it makes, even in this image which I might have thought was just fine:
Just that tiny bit of adjustment made my photo so much more bright and alive!
You can do this same adjustment in Curves, but I find this quicker and easier for everyday images.
Now, sometimes you will see a histogram that goes right to the little triangles – great! Hit CANCEL and you’re done! But you’ll be surprised just how many images can be improved with this quick method.
Now go check your last layout… are you “on the level”?