Basic Adjustments – Levels

Basic Adjustments – Levels

When you adjust levels in post-processing, you are adjusting the range of the brightness/ darkness levels in an image. This is determined through a histogram. The histogram displays the distribution of the different light value in an image. For example, a dark image would have a lot of value at the dark end of the spectrum (left hand side of the histogram), a bright image would have a lot of values at the bright end (right hand side).

To start adjusting the levels, open an image in photoshop and go to image – adjust – levels

photoshop Image Adjust Levels

Image => Adjust => Levels

The purpose of adjusting the levels is to have the whites in an image just touching the right hand side and the blacks in an image just touching the left hand side so that the distribution of brightness levels goes right across the range.

The levels histogram has three sliders

The levels histogram has three sliders

The right slider will adjust the bright values, the left slider will adjust the dark values and the middle slider will adjust the contrast.

Adjusted for optimum brightness range

Adjusted for optimum brightness range

For this example, I have put the right slider just at the edge of the brightest values (205), the left slider is at the edge of the darkest values (13) and the middle slider I have kept at 1,00 (middle). This means that the brightness values in my image are spread over the entire brightness/ darkness range.

The result

The left side of the image has no levels adjustment. It is flat and lifeless as the brightness levels are spread too far. The right side of the image has optimum levels adjustment and is much punchier and has better colours. This is because the range of brightness values in the image are tighter.

before and after

Left versus right!!

Check out one of my Photography Tours

Fjallabak Night

Fjallabak Night

Taken on July 17, 2011 on a photo tour through Iceland’s Southern Highlands (or Fjallabak – behind the mountains).

Kirkjufellsfoss SNOW

Kirkjufellsfoss SNOW

Long exposure Photos from Iceland This photo was taken: 2014-03-17 16:58:39 Kirkjufell on a sunny Winter’s day. An alternative composition from the usual and a square crop to challenge the usual views from Kirkjufellsfoss. See the image on Flickr

Ice Gorge

Ice Gorge

This is at the Fjaðrargljufur river canyon in South East Iceland. The unassuming river winds like a snake between the rocks.

Photo Calendars

Subscribe

RSS IcelandAuroraPhotos

  • Iceland : Iceland Northern Lights Postcard by IcelandAuroraPhotos
    1.41 GBPIncredible Northern lights over the Jokulsarlon Glacier lagoon in Iceland.These postcards are made from thick high-quality matte paper, so they serve as a great addition to a gift or just a thoughtful written note to a friend.• 4/4 full bleed• 300 GSM• Paper thickness: 0.13″ (0.34 mm)• Laminated feel• White matte back with a […]
  • Iceland : Diamond beach Golden Iceberg Iceland Postcard by IcelandAuroraPhotos
    1.41 GBPGlacier ice glows golden from the light of a sunrise on the diamond ice beach, Iceland.These postcards are made from thick high-quality matte paper, so they serve as a great addition to a gift or just a thoughtful written note to a friend.• 4/4 full bleed• 300 GSM• Paper thickness: 0.13″ (0.34 mm)• Laminated […]
  • Iceland : Jokulsarlon Ice, Iceland Postcard by IcelandAuroraPhotos
    1.41 GBPThe crystal ice at Jokulsarlon diamond beach catch the first rays of the rising sun in Iceland.These postcards are made from thick high-quality matte paper, so they serve as a great addition to a gift or just a thoughtful written note to a friend.• 4/4 full bleed• 300 GSM• Paper thickness: 0.13″ (0.34 mm)• […]

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This