Photoshop Tips: Different ways to adjust brightness and contrast

Last month, I talked about balancing the brightness of your photos for display in your Etsy shop. There are actually a handful of ways to adjust the brightness and contrast of your images in Photoshop; today, I'll be going over some of the options you can choose or mix 'n' match to edit your photos. All of the following options will be under the "Image" menu under "Adjustments" in Photoshop.

The most familiar and obvious option under Adjustments is the “Brightness/Contrast” window. The Brightness scale will make your image brighter as you pull it to the right (positive number value) and darker as you pull it to the left (negative number value) while the Contrast scale will make your lighter shades lighter and darker shades darker as you pull it to the right and will generally make your picture flatter as you pull it to the left.

If the Brightness/Contrast adjustments seem to extreme for you, the Levels adjustments allow for a bit more specificity in balancing your image. There are three arrows on the Level scale: you will see that, by default, they rest on the values “0″, “1.00″, and “255″ — these are your Shadows, Midtones, and Highlights values respectively (let’s not worry about the “Output Levels” for now). If you realize that you just need to make your dark colors darker and not change anything else, you can pull your Shadows arrow (the one that starts at “0″) to the right or if you feel your dark colors are perfect and need to make your lighter colors brighter, you can pull your Highlights arrow (the one that starts at “255″) to the left.

Somewhat similar to Levels is the Curves adjustment. Allowing for a bit more control than Level but a bit trickier sometimes, if you generally pull the curve to the right, your image will emphasize your darker colors while generally pulling the curve to the left will emphasize your lighter colors. This is always a fun one to play with. You pull the curve in different directions, as well, and have two or more points (see that black dot on the curve?) on the curve.

This is definitely different than the rest of the options, but if there are sections of your image that are dominated by a certain hue or color, you can choose to lighten up that color range only. You can choose between Reds, Yellows, Greens, Cyans, Blues, Magentas, Whites, Neutrals, and Blacks. To lighten a color range, you can pull the Black scale (bottom scale) to the left for a negative percentage value, and to make a color range darker, pull the Black scale to the right for a positive percentage value.

These are just general tips on each of these options, but the best way to learn or find your favorite method is to play around! Also, be sure to have your “Preview” box checked so that you know what you’re changing and how it’s changing.

If you want to edit your photos a little bit and focus in on your item in a photo, blurring out other or background elements in the photo may be helpful. Or if you made a group of items and want to list the items individually also, you can take photos of them one by one and also include a group photo and blur out everything but the one item that will be listed.

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Photoshop tips and tricks

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