Hello, I’m Jon Adams, Editor of Digital Photo Magazine and welcome to this Photo Answers video tip. We’re looking at curves and in particular how we can use curves to turn a rather flat looking landscape like this into something a bit more impressive like this. Now the changes we’ve made have occurred using just the curves palette in Photoshop. So let’s see how it’s done. Well first let’s revert to our starting point the image as it was originally captured and let’s see how we can use curves to cook up those great contrast and color effects. Well the first thing we’re gonna do is make a curves adjustment layer and we’re gonna do this by using a selection. So we pick up our free hand lasso tool and we’ll just going to draw a rough selection around the skyline area here. Something like that should do the trick. So we’ve just got the sky area selected. There we go. Once we’ve got that done and we’ve got marching ants around the screen, we’re then gonna feather that selection. So go to Select and choose Feather. And we’re gonna go for a broad feather radius of about 200 pixels. So input 200 into the Feather Radius dialog box and click OK. What we now need is our layers palette up on screen. So if you go to Windows and select Layers, your Layers palette will appear on screen. Now we’ve got an active feathered selection in the image, so what we’re going to do is click on the adjustment layer icon and choose Curves from the list. So that’s this half black, half white circle, click on that, choose Curves and up will come the Curves palette. Now the default setting for the Curves palette is to have black at the top right of the image. So it’s black over on the right hand side here and at the top of this particular graduated bar here. But for most photographers, the most logical way to use curves is to have black at the bottom left. So if we just click on this double-headed arrow here, that will reverse those particular tone curves and give you black at the bottom left of the image. So now you’ve done that, we can start work. Now we’ve made a selection and we got a curves adjustment layer. So what we’re going to do is simply click on the curve and drag it down and that will darken the sky selection we’ve made. Now because you made a curves adjustment layer, you can go as far as you like. And I think we’ll just probably over cook it slightly by dragging it down to there. And then we’re gonna click OK. And here in the Layers palette, you can see our adjustment layer. Here’s the curve setting and we can always bring that back at any time by simply clicking on the layer thumbnail. Just double click on the curves’ icon and it will bring your curves adjustments back. This rectangle here, this is a layer mask that goes hand in hand with an adjustment layer. And of course the white bit is the area we selected, the skyline along here. And the black bit is the area that we didn’t select. So white in the layer mask shows the area we’re going to affect with our changes. And black in the layer mask shows the area that’s gonna remain unaffected. Right, so now we’ve made our adjustment to the sky. We’re now going to create another curves adjustment layer only this time we’re not gonna select any part of the image, we’re just going to apply over the whole thing. So we just click on the adjustment layer icon and choose Curves again. Now this time, if we just look quickly at the Layers palette, the whole layer mask is white. That means that the changes we make will affect the entire image. So what we’ve got is effectively a global change. So let’s see what adjustment we’re going to make. Well, down here is the black point and we can move that black point by sliding it across to increase contrast or we can shift it upwards to reduce contrast. But because we already have black tones in the image in this dark shadows here, what we’re gonna do is just drag down the curve just to increase contrast over the whole thing and then we’re going to push up the curve at the far end to brighten the three quarter tones. And just push the contrast on the white end of the scale. This is our white point up here. This is fixed so we’re not gonna burn anything out unless we move that backwards. And now you can see we’ve got burnout. So by keeping within the constraints of the curve, we can actually create an S shaped curve and ramp up contrast. And you can many points as you like to the curve to actually change the way the contrast appears in the image. If you don’t like the curve you’ve added, simply grab hold of it and drag it off to the side and it will disappear. So there with this S shaped curve, we’ve made some great contrast changes that really help the image. But it’s not just contrast that we can affect with curves. Let’s just click here in this channel box before we click OK to that change and see what else there is. Well we’ve got RGB which is the global change across all 3 channels but we’ve also got Red, Green, and Blues. We can pick a channel individually and change just that. That means now when we change the curve, we’re going to affect the colors in the image. Then the Red channel, if we push the curve upward slightly, we increase the red tones in it. If we pull it down, we increase the cyan tones. Cyan, of course, is the opposite of red on the color wheel. So by ramping up the red slightly, just a little push, push that slightly north, we get lovely rich warm tones coming through. We can now switch to the Blue channel just by selecting it. And of course if we push up, we get more blue in the image. If we pull it down, we get the opposite of blue which is more yellow. And of course, by adding a little bit of yellow, we get a nice rich amber tone coming through because that combines with the red channel changes we’ve made. Just to warm up the whole image and give a really sunny appearance to the whole thing. So once we’ve made those changes, all we need to do is click OK and there we have a much better looking image. If we go back to our starting point, we can see what we’ve done. Let’s switch off those two adjustment layers, there’s our original image which still lies untouched underneath our adjustment layers. The first adjustment was where we selected the sky and made a curves adjustment to that particular part of the image so that’s darker dark sky and just ramped up the saturation in the nice blue tones there. The second adjustment we made was quite complex. We made, first of all, a global adjustment when we added the S curve and then we ramped up the red and the yellow colors within the image to give this lovely sunny effect. So with just two curves adjustment layers, we’ve made a dramatic change to the image. There’s our starting point and there’s our finishing point. So have a practice with that. Use curves and see what you can create to really improve the contrast and color tones within your images. Hope you enjoyed that and join me again soon for another Photo Answers video tip.