Learning Curves


Learning Curves

I mentioned yesterday that Cody Nutter gave me a little tutorial on color-correction recently. In 5 minutes, I began the process of learning curves. In the past, I’ve messed around with color curves but looking back at some of the photos, I cringe. They’re either too blue or too red and ultimately, they just look like a photo lab mixed the wrong chemicals when processing film. Andy from Fyxomatosis gave me the best advice anyone could give: the photo should look like it was taken with your eyes. With digital photography at an all-time high and apps like Instagram going viral, people love the nostalgia associated with a high-contrast, cross-processed image. But I’m not sure that’s where I want to go with my photos. Sure, this isn’t a rule but it’s a direction I want to stay clear of.

Back to the learning curves. The photo on the right is the original photo I posted of Matt Spencer during the LBC in ATX trip. The photo on the left is after balancing out the blacks and whites. Quite a difference huh?

Check out more below.

This is the original, to see it in high res, click here.

Here’s the final, with 5 minutes of color-correction. For high res, click here.

So how did I get to that?


First, you Select+eye dropper the whitest white and the blackest black. That will give you two values, underlined in red. You want to get those whites to 255 and the blacks to 0.

Created a curves adjustment layer and go down the the channels. First with red. Select the black triangle and input the value, in this case 6 to make the output 0, or black.

Then do the same for the white triangle. 222 input yields 255, or white.

Go down each channel, Red, Green and Blue, until your whites are 255 and your blacks are 0.

Simple huh? And the results are clear as day.

I’m sure there are variations on doing this but it’s such an easy procedure to do, especially for one or two photos, why not try it out?

I will note that I messed with the exposure, contrast and saturation in Lightroom first and each photo will be a bit different but this is a simple, easy way to make your whites and blacks balance out.

Thanks to Cody Nutter for the heads up. I’m already looking at a few selects from the past month to revisit.