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Auto Levels

Stock: from Rod L.

image 1

As you can see, this shot had the potential to be good, but poor light and camera adjustment made it turn out flat and uninteresting.

1. Using Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Levels, or the button 4 from the left at the bottom of the Layers Pallet, make a new levels adjustment layer.

image 2

2. Click the options button.

image 3

As you can see - We have a choice of 3 algorithms.

Enhance Monochromatic Contrast - This option gives maximum contrast without shifting colour balance. This is the setting I will use in this tutorial.
Enhance Per Channel Contrast - Choosing this option will enhance reds, blues and greens seperatly. In this image, it creates a grey cast and so will not be used. It is, however, very useful for quick fixes with existing colour casts.
Find Dark & Light Colours - Again, very useful in the right circumstances, but here it does not do what we want. Select this option to restore 'natural' tones to your image.

image 4

Before --> After

3. Turn on the "Snap Neutral Midtones" option. This will change anything it sees as being a neutral midtone to the color you set below. Click the Midtone color and set an orange/brown. I'm using #763A0E.

4. I am also changing Shadows Clipping to 4% to bring out shadows. Normally you do not want to clip colors, however in this case it is needed to give depth and richer tone. Highlights Clipping set to 2% will bring back the brightness of the original, but the depth of Shadow Clipping will remain.

image 5

Notice that everything in the image has been subjected to these changes, not just the areas we want. The final step will solve this.

5. The adjustments layer has a mask, click in it. Using a soft brush set to black with opacity and flow down to about 20%, brush over the logs. Leafs here are looking fine, as they had no gray midtones to be tinted orange in the first place.

image 6

And thats it. Subtle use of Auto Levels to enhance a photograph.

My Final Result:

Auto Levels

Hope it's helped.

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