Auto-Levels Question for Dan


Ronny Light
 

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.

 

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.

 

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?

 

 

 

Ronny

www.RonnyLightPhoto.com

5010 B Wilkerson Dr., Nashville, TN 37211

 


Hector Davila
 

"Auto Tone", not Auto Levels.

Dan Margulis said "Auto Tone".



Hector Davila


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).

Dan

 


Ronny Light
 

Thanks, Dan.

 

I’m re-reading Professional Photoshop and working on all of the exercises.

 

 

 

Ronny

www.RonnyLightPhoto.com

5010 B Wilkerson Dr., Nashville, TN 37211

 

 

 

From: colortheory@groups.io <colortheory@groups.io> On Behalf Of Dan Margulis via groups.io
Sent: Tuesday, 13 April, 2021 7:58 AM
To: colortheory@groups.io
Subject: Re: [colortheory] Auto-Levels Question for Dan

 

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).

Dan

 


Doug Schafer
 

I am one who forgot to take heed to "check" "final" image for auto tone....and agree it is a test, not a certainty; but does indicate if a change should be made.
And also to note: there are options for "auto" and different settings yield different results.
See attached .jpg for the auto color correction options...
Doug Schafer


 

Oop this brings a question to my head: as much as checking, after all adjustments are made, seems to be like a test for the quality of the adjustments, then wouldn't it make more sense to start this Auto adjustment at the RAW stage, right after capture?
Apply the AUTO control in either LightRoom, Photoshop, Capture One, and call this THE starting point?

I found it interesting to have this Auto everything version added as a basic layer to my files. Other modified versions exported from the RAW stage would be stacked and use the mixing as my Base or personal PAR of my work, and make the additional local adjustments in that Base image.

I am finding conceptual problems in my thinking with the inclusion of AUTO anything -after the fact-  if I spent some time working with a file. Doesn't this defeat the purpose of our creative approach??

From the amazing experience of having tried to work on the challenges (Thanks Dan!) and seeing sooo many variations of the final results, with barely one or two challenges having a good deal of similar results, I feel it is obvious that the personal creative input
takes precedence in each individual, regardless of how close or how far your result ends up compared to "right" image ( The PAR versions). So what is the deal with telling the software: "Ok, I am finished, now you do your thing and fix this file"...

I guess I am missing something and would like to understand what is it.

Thanks
--
Jorge Parra 
www.jJorgeParraPhotography.com
Miami


KENT SOUTHERS
 

My .02 is that it simply serves as a cross-check to see if there might be some aspect of the image that the automation offers up as an opportunity to consider something different.  

When working an image, I can get a bit "hyper-focused" on certain aspects and lose some perspective on other aspects (as there is much to consider), as the relationship or balance of things changes along the way.  The cross-check AFTER I'm done is a "hmmm, did I overlook something" along the way.

As to the point about personal creative input ... I think that retains merit for what it is that you want YOUR image to convey.

To me the concept of equally weighted PAR or averaging things in general ... means that it cannot be the "best" of everything, moreover the "not bad" of anything. 
Kind of an awkward way of saying it, but I think that after seeing the PARs, there are always bits and pieces of non-PAR images that I find to be better than the weighted PAR ... hence the often times having multiple PARs in an attempt to improve the image toward its best.

I think the notion of using blending tools / layers is highly valuable.  But, I think that even in doing so, a straight 20% weighting is a recipe for not the best it can be.  Imo, in order to achieve the best it can be, personal creative input and selective application of the blending tools will prove more capable than the straight 20% weight approach.  Yet, for the purposes of instruction to the tools, the standardized approach of 20% weighting is understood as effective / efficient for teaching the principles / concepts.  Just that taking an average will never reveal the peak.  More like the 80/20 rule vs. the absolute best. 😉

So, the AFTER I'm done, cross-check is an opportunity to "reset" my eyes / brain a bit.  Where I've not done that, I find that the things I missed are revealed when put in context with all other versions.  Since we don't have the benefit of seeing all other versions prior to submission ... the auto offers us a glimpse into alternate comparatives for that potential "ah, missed that" vs. nope, I'm good with where I've landed it.

Just a cross-check, not an expected / mandatory end use, imo.

And a big, giant PLUS ONE to the thanks to Dan for hosting these exercises.  Looking forward to future endeavors with Dan, whatever he may bring to the table.

Kent Southers, CMRP
southers3@...



From: colortheory@groups.io <colortheory@groups.io> on behalf of jorgeparraphotography <jorgeparraphotography@...>
Sent: Wednesday, April 14, 2021 8:31 AM
To: colortheory@groups.io <colortheory@groups.io>
Subject: Re: [colortheory] Auto-Levels Question for Dan
 
Oop this brings a question to my head: as much as checking, after all adjustments are made, seems to be like a test for the quality of the adjustments, then wouldn't it make more sense to start this Auto adjustment at the RAW stage, right after capture?
Apply the AUTO control in either LightRoom, Photoshop, Capture One, and call this THE starting point?

I found it interesting to have this Auto everything version added as a basic layer to my files. Other modified versions exported from the RAW stage would be stacked and use the mixing as my Base or personal PAR of my work, and make the additional local adjustments in that Base image.

I am finding conceptual problems in my thinking with the inclusion of AUTO anything -after the fact-  if I spent some time working with a file. Doesn't this defeat the purpose of our creative approach??

From the amazing experience of having tried to work on the challenges (Thanks Dan!) and seeing sooo many variations of the final results, with barely one or two challenges having a good deal of similar results, I feel it is obvious that the personal creative input
takes precedence in each individual, regardless of how close or how far your result ends up compared to "right" image ( The PAR versions). So what is the deal with telling the software: "Ok, I am finished, now you do your thing and fix this file"...

I guess I am missing something and would like to understand what is it.

Thanks
--
Jorge Parra 
www.jJorgeParraPhotography.com
Miami


Ronny Light
 

Kent Southers said, “My .02 is that it simply serves as a cross-check to see if there might be some aspect of the image that the automation offers up as an opportunity to consider something different. “

 

Exactly.

 

And a big, giant PLUS ONE to the thanks to Dan for hosting these exercises.“

 

And, the same from me.

 

 

 

Ronny

www.RonnyLightPhoto.com

5010 B Wilkerson Dr., Nashville, TN 37211

 

 


sj_90000@...
 

Okay, here’s two more cents - One of Dan’s points is: if you find things that are “impossible colors”, like blue skin or green hair, those *need* to be corrected. And the *only* objective way to see what’s going on is “by the numbers”. Your vision is constantly adapting. You might wonder how fast is this adapting is happening, well if it wasn’t happening by the micro-second you would be “blind” - vision relies on change. There are many optical illusions that take advantage of this phenomena. Also if working in a dark room the tendency is to make adjustments that are too dark – to adapt to your surroundings, and conversely working in an overly bright room makes your image look dark so you brighten it – again to adapt to your surroundings. But neither of these is correct because your vision is adapting and once that happens all bets are off. That’s the benefit to “working by the numbers” – adaption’s irrelevant. If I can be a bit presumptuous, I think what Dan’s saying is DON’T RELY  ON YOUR VISION for correct color, it’s way too malleable. The auto-ThisOrThat is just an objective sanity check – “objective” being the operative word! Nothing more. But if you see a large difference as a consequence, you should check your work because odds are that something’s not right. But of course, ultimately it’s your decision how far to stray from “norms”. Dan’s techniques just provide a tool set that deal with a number of issues when translating the camera’s captured data into a image that most would agree better meshes with our memories. At least that’s my take on it.
 
I also thank Dan for the enormous amount of time he’s devoted to educating us. I can’t repay that though, I’m not that rich. Let’s just say, “He’s opened my eyes!”
 
Steve J


Dan Margulis
 

On Wed, Apr 14, 2021 at 09:31 AM, jorgeparraphotography wrote:
Oop this brings a question to my head: as much as checking, after all adjustments are made, seems to be like a test for the quality of the adjustments, then wouldn't it make more sense to start this Auto adjustment at the RAW stage, right after capture?
Apply the AUTO control in either LightRoom, Photoshop, Capture One, and call this THE starting point?

No. Applying Auto Tone or equivalent early cleans up colors (since light channels are proportionally hurt more than midtone-heavy ones). You may not want to do that. In the High Andes shot you definitely don't want to do it; many people were using H-K or similar to keep the colors subdued before finalizing them in LAB.

Applying Auto Tone or equivalent early also adds contrast, but in a blind way by forcing each channel to full range. That may be the wrong approach; it is the wrong approach in High Andes.

Start with the flat version and then apply Auto Tone? That gives you the default version, more or less, so why did you decide to open the flat version in the first place?

I found it interesting to have this Auto everything version added as a basic layer to my files. Other modified versions exported from the RAW stage would be stacked and use the mixing as my Base or personal PAR of my work, and make the additional local adjustments in that Base image.
A very good practice.
I am finding conceptual problems in my thinking with the inclusion of AUTO anything -after the fact-  if I spent some time working with a file. Doesn't this defeat the purpose of our creative approach??
Not at all. It's just like starting with the flat version on the assumption that you can eventually get better color that way, even though the default looks better at first. You should be able to get better color with the flat version, but it pays to keep a copy of the default around, because when you think you're finished, you can apply it in Color mode to your final version. Hopefully 90% of the time you'll cancel it because your color is clearly better. But it isn't a waste of time to do this, any more than it's a waste of time to check Auto Tone afterward.

Neither of these steps have anything to do with creativity, because "creativity" and "wrong" are not synonyms. These tests tell you that something is wrong, and saves the inconvenience of hearing other people tell you that later.


 

Many thanks, Dan for the explanation.

It is now much clear to me, especially when you say that the Auto features would saturate the channels from the start,  I can see the self-imposed limitations this brings.
The fact that the Auto setting at the end works as a review of the work done and meant to be discarded, clears the path to better understand its use. 
Also, the difference between Creativity and Wrong helps support the argument.

That said, It was very interesting that the most delicate mages, the ones that were most difficult to achieve overall, also generated additional Pars, offering more options to consider on the "creative" side,  but most certainly also opening the doors to even more "alternative" versions, which might all be not "wrong", but still different among them. This is just fascinating!

Again, thanks much!!
--
Jorge Parra 
www.jJorgeParraPhotography.com
Miami


Gerald Bakker
 

This thread is a bit old (sorry about that) but this may be of interest to you.

I studied the Auto-Tone/Color/Contrast menu actions plus the Auto buttons on Levels and Curves (they are all related).
The result is in this article on my website: https://geraldbakker.nl/psnumbers/auto-options.html

The most important conclusion (for me at least) was that the behavior of the Auto-something actions depends on the defaults as saved on the Levels/Curves Auto Color options.
And (more obviously) the behavior of the Auto button on Levels/Curves varies considerably, again depending on the saved options.
--
Gerald Bakker
https://geraldbakker.nl


Ronny Light
 

That’s a great 6-part series. Thanks.

 

 

 

Ronny

www.RonnyLightPhoto.com

5010 B Wilkerson Dr.

Nashville, TN 37211

 

 

 

From: colortheory@groups.io <colortheory@groups.io> On Behalf Of Gerald Bakker
Sent: Monday, May 10, 2021 11:06 AM
To: colortheory@groups.io
Subject: Re: [colortheory] Auto-Levels Question for Dan

 

This thread is a bit old (sorry about that) but this may be of interest to you.

I studied the Auto-Tone/Color/Contrast menu actions plus the Auto buttons on Levels and Curves (they are all related).
The result is in this article on my website: https://geraldbakker.nl/psnumbers/auto-options.html

The most important conclusion (for me at least) was that the behavior of the Auto-something actions depends on the defaults as saved on the Levels/Curves Auto Color options.
And (more obviously) the behavior of the Auto button on Levels/Curves varies considerably, again depending on the saved options.
--
Gerald Bakker
https://geraldbakker.nl