Darker Black, Lighter White

In the second of the series on editing photographs on Adobe Photoshop, we deal with the dynamics of brightness and contrast.

Rajwant Rawat        Print Edition: January 2012

There are times when you feel a little disappointed when you download the images you have clicked and look at them on the computer screen. What looked like a passably good photo on the camera LCD now looks a bit washed out. Or you can now discern the harsh light and dark shadows more clearly. Sometimes you see to your dismay that your flash illumination wasn't bright enough to make every face in the photograph cheery enough. Don't worry, your photos can still be redeemed.

There are different software available to handle these photography problems. Essentially, since light is a mixture of all colours, the software enhances different hues to create something that could help the image. The most popular of such software is Adobe Photoshop. In the December issue of G&G, we looked at how to use Photoshop to correct colour distortions in photographs. This month, let us see how brightness and contrast can be manipulated to give you more pleasing images. There is also a plus at the end: how do you watermark your photograph?


Brightness is the amount of light that is available across the picture. Contrast is the difference, or the ratio, between the brightest and darkest parts of a photograph. To balance them, open the file in Photoshop and go to Images. Under Images, go to Adjustment and from there to Brightness/ Contrast. You can use the sliders to adjust the picture's brightness and contrast to your preference. Another way in which you can carry out the same task is to use Curves. Open the image and under Adjustment, click on Curves. Use the graph line to get the desired brightness and contrast. Remember that increasing the brightness reduces colour saturation and increasing contrast leads to higher colour saturation. Both these methods will require you to practise a bit before you can correctly judge the best brightness and contrast. After that you can experiment with these two aspects not only to correct your image, but also for special effects.


Sometime a picture suffers from a blur created by the camera shaking when taking a photograph. The lines are, therefore, not quite sharp. To minimise blurs, open picture in Photoshop. In Images, go to Filter and then to Sharpen. You can use the options of Unsharp Mask and Smart Sharpen to take care of the blur. If you want to sharpen some parts of the picture and not the whole, then go to Layers (F7), Duplicate Layers (Ctrl+J), then sharpen the upper layer as much you want. You can then use the erase tool (press E ) to rub away the portions that you do not want to sharpen.

On the contrary, if you want to blur out certain portions of your picture, you can follow the same procedure as for sharpening parts of the image. Instead of the Sharpen option, just use Blur. An easy way to use blur or sharpen is to go to the Blur tool (waterdrop-like icon) on the left menu. Clicking on its give you the options for blur, sharpen and smudge. Choose the area on the picture you want to work on and use the tool.


You can use watermarking to ensure that your images are not misused or claimed by others. Making a watermark is a very easy procedure in Photoshop. Open your picture and then press F7. A layer window will open. Add a new blank layer using the Create a new layer option at the bottom of the window. Go to the main tool bar on the left side to Text tool (indicated by a T sign). Type out what you want your watermark to say. You can choose different colours by clicking on the Set Background Colour tool (two intersecting boxes). After typing out your text (you get options for small or big, bold or smooth fonts), go to Layers, click on opacity to choose the desired level of transparency of your text. Then go to Layer at the top of the page and choose Flatten Image. The text becomes a water mark on your image.

Take care to save your image you are working with under another name, else your original image gets saved with all the changes you made and you will not able to remove the effects. So, use the Save As option instead of Save. For undo option in Photoshop, use Ctrl+Z. To undo more than just the previous action, use ctrl+Alt+Z.

Courtesy:Gadgets and Gizmos

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