Re: Auto-Levels Question for Dan

Dan Margulis

On Fri, Mar 26, 2021 at 10:46 PM, Ronny Light wrote:

Steve J. quotes Dan, “if you had only run auto-levels”.


I remember a similar quote from Dan recently, as I remember, to use auto-levels as a final check before finishing an image adjustment.


I often run auto-levels from Curves as a final check but not as a final adjustment. Most of the time, I use auto-levels as a suggestion. I usually don’t go as far as the auto-levels suggest but may adjust in that direction.


In the case studies, I have used many adjustment methods but none of Dan’s blending, PPW, etc. I deduced that I may be one of the few on Colortheory who doesn’t use Dan’s methods. It’s time I learned.


I have several of Dan’s books (one autographed at Photoshop World). I’ve read the books but haven’t put Dan’s methods to use. I started re-reading the 5th edition of Professional Photoshop recently and I’m trying to put Dan’s methods to use.


And my question is:


On page 9 of the 5th edition of Professional Photoshop, Dan says, “Some [adjustment] methods, like Image: Adjustments>Brightness/Contrast, should be avoided because they are inferior.” I assume Dan was talking about the Auto button in Image: Adjustments>Brightness/Contrast.

No, I was talking about the Brightness/Contrast sliders.



In the current version of Photoshop, there is also an Auto button in Levels and Curves (the one I use). In a quick test, those two seem to give similar results. The Auto button in Images: Adjustment>Brightness/Contrast gives different results.


The auto-levels adjustments in older versions of Photoshop were pretty bad but they have gotten much better. I use them now as a suggestion only, where I wouldn’t have touched them before. 

The Auto Levels command has since been renamed Auto Tone but AFAIK there hasn't been a change in functionality.


Dan, is your warning about auto-levels in the 5th edition of Professional Photoshop one of many things that has improved enough to be useful since the publication of your book?

That book is 15 years old so I'm dealing with memories, but it looks like from pp. 33-38 there's a discussion that deals with both commands, and I don't see a warning against Auto Levels, though custom curves are more precise. And again, I don't think that it has improved, I think it just has a new name (Auto Tone).



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