Adobe Photoshop CS6: What Does The New Version Bring?

The CS6 version of Photoshop has two new colour adjustment features, using built-in intelligence from thousands of hand-retouched pictures to give you an upgraded starting point for making adjustments.

Camera RAW 7

One of these features is associated with the “Brightness contrast” command and the other is to be found when using the levels and curves commands.

For a photo whose colour is washed out, the most popular commands in Photoshop are “Auto tone”, “Auto contrast” and “Auto colour”. These are very easy to apply. You can try out all three commands one after the other to see the differences, and then press Ctrl Z (for Windows) or Command Z (for Mac) to go back to the original image. You might find that “Auto colour” adds a little too much blue.

The good thing about these automatic options is that they act as a great jumping-off point when you want to do your own modifications. To make a brightness contrast adjustment layer, click on the black and white icon on the bottom right-hand side of the panel and select the “Brightness contrast” command.

Instead of manually regulating the brightness contrast options, click on the new “Auto” button and Photoshop will automatically evaluate the image. Each different photo will be evaluated differently.

Adobe Photoshop CS6

For example, it might choose to set the brightness value to negative 22 and the contrast value to 69. If you aren’t happy with the results you can alter the values – taking the brightness value down to negative 32 or reducing the contrast value if you find a loss of shadow on the highlight details.

When you finally pleased with the image, you can check the results against the original photo by clicking on the “Brightness contrast 1” box on the right-hand panel. Brightness contrast is a really good feature when you are doing very basic edits. Although it was updated and improved in the CS3 version of Photoshop, it remains a limited command.

If you want to have total control over the luminous levels inside your photos, you should go to either “Levels” or “Curves”. When you click on the black and white icon on the bottom right-hand side of the panel, this time select the “Levels” command.

This will show you the contrast levels in the form of a graph. This is a new option that has nothing to do with the other auto control options. If you “Alt+click” (for Windows) or “Opt+click” (for Mac) on the Auto button a window will open to show you that you using the new feature “Enhance brightness and Contrast”.

This option gives you access to all the values Photoshop has chosen by default. The black point variation area might be at 28, the gamma value at 0.98 and the white point value at 240. You can then alter the values to get the image you are looking for.

The other options in the box, “Enhance monochromatic contrast”, “Enhance per channel contrast”  and “Find dark and light colours”, don’t give you access to the values as they work on a channel by channel basis.

You can try the same thing with “Curves”. Click on the black and white icon on the bottom right-hand side of the panel and select the “Curves” command. Click on the “Auto” button and you will see the points on the curve that you can adjust to suit your own modifications.

Although most people don’t associate automatic adjustment options with power features, the new auto commands included with the brightness contrast, curves and levels will give you a really good jumping-off point for even the most refined alterations.