Curves-Adding Magic in Photoshop

If you have been shooting Images for some time, you would understand for sure how integral post processing is to photography. If done correctly, it is an extremely powerful tool to fill in the gap between what was witnessed in person to what the camera captured on scene. In the wrong hands….well it can be a disaster.

Over the years, many of my friends have asked me about my post processing techniques and I have always refrained from sharing the same. See the thing about my post processing is, that it’s very minimal. Apart from colour correction and adjusting contrast, I do literally nothing in most of my images. Photoshop is an ocean in itself and I probably, know and use less than 5 percent of what’s available.

But today, I want to share one tool. One simple tool that I use almost exclusively, in all my landscape post processing workflow. Believe me, this single tool is all that I play with, in around 80 percent of my landscape images.

This simple tool is called “Curves”.

I want to demonstrate what a radical difference, this tool can make to your landscape images with a simple example.

Curves-Adding Magic in Photoshop

Above is a long exposure shot of Chaukhamba. I made this shot with my Canon 7D M2 and a 400mm f/5.6 L lens. This shot was taken in the month of October when it was considerably warm. Also the distance (as the crow flies) between my home and Chaukhamba is around 24 Kilometers. This distance, combined with the heat , resulted in an image, which was very hazy. Furthermore, I deliberately overexposed this shot by at-least 1.7 stops. This resulted in a washed out RAW file, also note the image is extremely low in contrast.

Curves-Adding Magic in Photoshop

Looking at the histogram, it’s very easy to understand why it is so. As you might probably know, the left side of the histogram represents the darker parts of your image, and going towards the right it represents brighter values, with mid tones in between. Looking at the histogram, it’s evident, this image has absolutely no tonal values in the blacks and some mid tones. Now this is where post processing does its magic.

Curves-Adding Magic in Photoshop

Here’s what I did to correct this image, I simply took the black slider and moved it all the way to the right. I moved it to the first point on the histogram, where it has some tonal values. For this histogram, this is now the new black point, and as you can see, the image has completely changed. The colours have popped up, the image now has a lot of contrast and compared to what it was before, it looks like a totally different image. The bright parts or highlights, still looked a bit bright to me, so I added another curves layer, brought down the highlights, sharpened the image, and viola, the image is ready.

Curves-Adding Magic in Photoshop

This is a very simple example to show, how powerful this one tool can be. Mind me, a number of in-depth articles can be written, only on how to use the “Curves” tool. But more often than not, this simple trick is all that is required to correct an image, which is extremely low in contrast.

What are some post processing tricks that you use, would love to know them in comments below.

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May the Himalayas bless you always. 🙂


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