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Enhance with Adobe Photoshop

Change the Brightness/Contrast
Work with Levels
Using Filters
Clone and Select Tool

Change the Brightness/Contrast

Use the Brightness/Contrast tool to lighten images.

1. Start Photoshop.

2. Open the image called poorexample.jpg from the Managing Images folder or download it here (Right click and save it).

3. The Brightness/Contrast command lets you increase the difference between the bright and dark areas of a photo, which in turn lets you see more detail and often makes the photo more realistic. In the Layers palette, select the layer containing the image you want to change.

4. Choose Image /Adjustments /Brightness/Contrast. Arrange the Brightness/Contrast dialog box so that you can see as much of the image as possible. Make sure the Preview box is checked.

Try using the Image /Adjustments / Auto Contrast first to see the difference between what the computer guesses and what you think is best. Sometimes the Auto Contrast only makes the image appear worse. Try to adjust the settings by hand before using the Auto command.

5. Drag the Contrast slider to the right to increase contrast. Drag the Brightness slider to the right to increase Brightness. To view the original image, uncheck the Preview box.

In this case, I changed the Brightness to +17 and the Contrast to +14. This lightened the sky and brought out the colors in the building, creating more visual interest and diversity.

Before After by Hand
After by selecting Auto Contrast  

Work with Levels

Does your photo look dull and is lacking contrast? Is it reddish or greenish or just faded? Adobe Photoshop's Levels command lets you correct the tonal range and color balance of an image by adjusting intensity levels of the image's shadows, midtones, and highlights. In this tutorial, you'll learn how to adjust the tonality and color in your images using the Levels command.

1. Open the image storefronts.jpg from the Managing Images folder or download it here (Right click and save it).

2. Levels adjust the tonal range and color balance of an image. Evaluate storefronts.jpg. Is it too light or dark? Does it have too much or too little contrast? In order to correct the image, choose Layer/New Adjustment Layer/Levels. Name the new layer. Click OK.

To Learn More about Layers in Adobe Photoshop

With an adjustment layer, you are applying the tonal correction on a separate layer. The original image is untouched. If you decide you don't like your changes, you can change them at any time or simply discard the adjustment layer and return to your original image.

A useful tool for evaluating an image's tonality is the histogram displayed in the Levels dialog box. A histogram illustrates how pixels in an image are distributed by graphing the number of pixels at each color intensity level. This can show you whether the image contains enough detail in the shadows (shown in the left part of the histogram), midtones (shown in the middle), and highlights (shown in the right part) to create good overall contrast in the image.

3. Move the Black Point Input slider and the White Point Input slider (located directly beneath the histogram) inward from the edges of the histogram. Moving the Black Point Input slider maps all image values at its position or below to the Output Levels black point (set by default to 0, or pure black). Moving the White Point Input slider maps image values at its position or above to the Output Levels white point (set by default to 255, or pure white).

For example, if your image is too dark, try moving the Input White Point slider to the left. This maps more values in the image to 255 (the Output Levels white point), making them lighter.

Begin adjusting the Shadows, Midtones, and Highlights by sliding the bars in the histogram while observing the changes in the photograph. There is no one way to adjust the levels, it is done by trial and error and observation.

4. Click OK when done.

Storefronts Before Storefronts After by Hand
Storefronts After by selecting Auto Levels  

Using Filters

Complete Tutorials using Filters and Advanced Techniques can be found at the Adobe web site tutorial section.

Filters are applied to the active, visible layer or a selection.
Most filters can be applied cumulatively using the Filter Gallery. All filters can be applied individually.
Filters cannot be applied to Bitmap-mode or indexed-color images.
Some filters work only on RGB images.
All filters can be applied to 8-bit images.
Only the following filters can be applied to 16-bit images: Blur, Average Blur, Blur More, Gaussian Blur, Motion Blur, Noise, Add Noise, Despeckle, Dust & Scratches, Median, Sharpen, Sharpen Edges, Sharpen More, Unsharp Mask, Stylize, Emboss, Find Edges, and Solarize.
Some filters are processed entirely in RAM. If all your available RAM is used to process a filter effect, you may get an error message

Filters have been overused in graphics and can tend to look cheesy. Be careful when applying filters to photographs. The most common filters you will use are the following:

Sharpen Lighting Diffuse


Choose Filter/ Sharpen in Photoshop to make the image crisper and to define the edges.


Choose Filter/Render/Lighting Effects to create lighting sources such as spotlights, up lights and down lighting effects.


Choose Filter/Stylize/Diffuse to create a softer edge, artistic feel.


Clone and Magic Wand Tool

The Clone and Magic Wand tool are commonly used tools in Photoshop.

The Magic Wand tool lets you select a consistently colored area (for example, a red flower) without having to trace its outline. You specify the color range, or tolerance, for the Magic Wand tool's selection. It is located in the Tools palette, the second tool down on the right.

Magic Wand

The magic wand tool was used to delete unwanted items from these 2 photographs of the side of a building. The tool was used to eliminate the sky and other objects around the building.

1. Open the image called 5633_6th.jpg from the Managing Images Folder or download it here (Right click and save it).

2. Duplicate this layer to preserve the original. Open the Layers palette, Windows/ Layers. Using the top right arrow in the Layers Palette, Choose Duplicate Layer.


3. Turn off the original layer by selecting the eye to the left of the layer name and clicking. The image beneath the duplicate is turned off and will not show through when you begin erasing the top layer.

4. Select the magic wand tool from the Tools palette.

5. Notice the options that appear at the top of the screen, underneath File, Edit, Image. Change the Tolerance to 20.

6. Click on the gray sky in the image with the magic wand tool. Notice that the entire sky has not been selected, but that it is roughly selected. Change the Tolerance to 50 and reselect the sky. To unselect the area, click on it once. To reselect the area, click once again on the area.

Tolerance=20 Tolerance=50

The tolerance value is a pixels measurement, ranging from 0 to 255. Enter a low value to select the few colors very similar to the pixel you click, or enter a higher value to select a broader range of colors.

7. Once you have the area cleanly selected, delete it by choosing Edit/Clear. This is how unwanted objects of the same color range are easily deleted.


The Clone tool is very useful when you want to "paint" textures or patterns. Sometimes copying a portion of a pattern and pasting it accomplishes the task, but more often than not, there isn't enough of the pattern to copy and paste. The easiest way to replicate complex patterns is to "paint" with the pattern.

In this example, you are going to completely paint brick over the sign in order to remove the sign from the facade.

Original file Begin Clone Stamp
Final File  

1. Open the file called cloan_brick.jpg from the Managing Images Folder in Photoshop or download it here (Right click and save it).

2. Select the Clone tool from the tools palette, it is the stamp located 5 icons down in the first column.

3. Choose a brush tip and set brush options for the blending mode, opacity, and flow in the options bar

4. In the image, over a portion of the brick, place the stamp cursor and press Alt while Left clicking. This is where you take a "snap shot" of the portion you wish to paint with.

5. Right click over the sign and paint the brick. As the cursor moves, you resample the aligned portion of the brick to paint with. If you only want to take a sample once and paint it over and over, deselect the Aligned check box in the Options palette at the top of the page.

6. Keep taking samples of the brick and painting to achieve the final brick facade as in the image above.

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