© Jan Esmann and Power Retouch. All rights reserved.

Photoshop plug-ins for retouching

Contrast

Quick introduction

This Photoshop plug-in gives you full control over all aspects of contrast editing. This is the Contrast Editor pluginís control panel. Click on the image for a larger view. It works with the following image modes: 8 & 16 bit/channel: RGB, CMYK, Grayscale, Duotone, Lab.

What is contrast?

Enhancing black and white contrast can be done in several ways. The most common is to make the dark areas darker and the bright areas brighter, however that has the disadvantage, that you change the range of brightness-values in addition to enhancing contrast. That might be OK, you really ought to be able to decide if you want it or not.
The gradient without contrast we will edit below
Expand range: Make the lights brighter and darks darker.

General contrast

This is Power Retouch's integration † of
black/white contrast with color-contrast. This slider edits contrast of hue, saturation and brightness-range while preserving the relationships between the three. The example to the right was filtered with the General Contrast at 100%.

Black/white contrast

The B/W Contrast slider determines how much change should be applied. How the contrast is changed is set by the following two sliders, so the aesthetic effect of this slider is determined by them. This sliders effect also enhances the effect of general contrast.
Black Alert and White Alert will display a uniform color in the preview in those areas that clip 0.3% towards pure black and 0.3% to pure white. You can change the color of the alerts by clicking in the colored rectangle displaying the color of the mask.

Preserve midtones

This slider determines how much the contrast should be changed by altering the contrast of the mid tones. At the extreme you can split the image into just black and white. Normally you will think in terms of preserving the
Original
Pres. mid tones 100% B&W contrast 100
Pres. mid tones 60% B&W contrast 100
Pres. mid tones 0% B&W contrast 100
midtones rather than enhancing contrast by separating them.This slider determines how much the contrast should be changed by altering the contrast of the mid tones. At the extreme you can split the image into just black and white. Normally you will think in terms of preserving the mid tones rather than enhancing contrast by separating them.

Balance

Balance changes the ratio between the amount of light and dark in the image.

Color contrast

This group of controls is straight forward. Warm enhance targets warm colors (yellow, orange, red). Cool enhance targets cold colors (cold green, cyan, blue, violet). Red, Green and Blue contrast target the respective colors.

Luminance levels

The luminance levels are common to most Power Retouch plug-ins. They let you determine the degree the filtering will be applied to the lights, midtones and darks.

Saturation levels

Saturation levels determine how much changes should be applied to saturated or unsaturated colors.

Graduated effect

These controls are common for many of the Power Retouch plug-ins. Using graduated effect will cause the filter to apply it's filtering at full strength in one side of the image and then fade the effect out towards the other side. You can change direction by right clicking the preview. Midpoint will shift the balance between how large an area will be filtered at full strength and how much will have a faded out effect. Contrast will change the acceleration and spread of the fade-out.
In these two examples we applied a graduated effect towards the bottom of the image. The original is flat because there is not enough contrast in the foreground objects compared to the background. We raised general contrast and warm contrast. Notice how much greater the sense of depth is after this simple retouch.

Ranges

The ranges tabs opens the ranges controls. These are common for most Power Retouch plug-ins. Their controls are described below. The Mask unchanged checkbox is an aid to setting the limit-sliders. It applies to both the brightness-range and the color-range. When checked, areas of the image that are darker than the dark limit or lighter than the light limit will be shown in the preview as a uniform color. You can change the color of the mask by clicking in the small rectangle.
Dark limit . This slider tells the filter not to alter areas of the image that are darker than the sliders setting (0=black, 255=white). Light limit . This slider tells the plug-in not to alter areas of the image, that are lighter than the sliders setting (0=black, 255=white). Target . This tells the plug-in which value between the dark and light limits shall be changed the most.

Brightness range (BW Range)

The following sliders become active when "Use Brightness Range" is checked. This set of controls is common to most of the Power Retouche plug-ins.

Color range

Color range filtering is common for most of the Power Retouche plug-ins. Color range will restrict filtering to colors in the range from the right side of the "From" slider to the left side of the "Up to" slider. This means that all color-selections are possible, since if you place the From slider to the left of the Up to... slider, then colors in between the two controls will be edited. If you place the From... slider to the right of the Up to... slider, then colors in between the two controls will not be edited. Below is an example where we blocked out a blue sky.
To bring the kids to the front and remove the blue cast we enhanced the warm tones and raised general contrast a bit.

Invert

If you click the invert button, the selection sliders swap place which means everything that was unselected before now becomes selected. I the image to the right we used the invert button to select the blue sky and unselect the kids. We then reduced cool enhance to fade the sky a bit.

Histogram, anti-posterization and color values

These controls are common to most of the Power Retouch plug-ins. The displayed histogram will be for the area shown in the preview. If you want a histogram for the entire image, you will have to click the Fit button to make the image fit the preview. You can choose between individual color channels, all color channels or luminance. Anti-posterization should be set as low as possible. In most cases leave it off (at 0) in order to speed up processing time. The color picker allows you to pick a point (pixel) in the preview and get some interesting data about it. The d-values tell how much the pixel is changed in percent. L tells the luminance value (brightness) of the pixel.
Balance = 75
Balance = 128 (original)
Balance = 190
Don't expand range, yet increase contrast while preserving midtones
Preserve midtones with expand range.
Don't expand range + don't preserve midtones. Full contrast.