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The Photoshop Phanatic: Photoshop Basics

Part 4: Using Levels to Adjust Lighting

In this installment of Photoshop Basics, we will explore using levels to adjust poor lighting in an image. So, open up your copy of Photoshop and follow along.

  • Launch your copy of Photoshop and open an image with poor lighting. The image can be too light or too dark.

  • Under the Image menu select Adjustment - Levels (or use the keyboard shortcut: Command-L (Mac) or Control-L (Win)).

  • The Levels window will display:

If your image is too light drag the left input slider toward the center to increase darkness.

If your image is too dark drag the right input slider toward the center to increase brightness.

The middle input slider is used to adjust the midtones which provide a good balance between lights and darks in your image.

You may also click the Auto button to have Photoshop determine the best possible levels for your image instead of adjusting them manually.

  • Lastly, if you have a level setting that you like, and want to save it for future use, click the Save button and Photoshop will save the setting. You can then use the Load button to load the setting when you need it. This scenario is extremely helpful when you have a folder of images that you want to apply the same settings to with a Batch Automate Action.
  • Levels are extremely powerful but can be complex--we have only covered a small sampling of what can be done. Experiment with these techniques and see what works best for you.