How Well Do You Know Your Curves?

I’m in the process of writing the 2nd part to a previous article on Photo Editing With Histograms and it basically centers around the curves adjustment tool found in many pieces of photo editing software. The problem I’m having is determining how deep to go into the topic — curves can be highly technical and complex if you start from ground zero.

So help me out with this poll and let me know your experience level with curves. I’m assuming that most of you know what it is and how to use it, but with an audience this size it’s hard to tell for sure. If I see a lot of people with absolutely no clue, I’ll try to include some of the basics in the article. But if the majority is already familiar with curves and how they work, I might trim that stuff down and just give a few links to other articles that cover the fundamentals.


And if you have any specific questions about curve adjustments or how they relate to the image/histogram, leave a comment and let me know! Hey, I can’t answer your questions if you don’t ask.

9 thoughts on “How Well Do You Know Your Curves?

  1. Arjun

    I know curves well enough to adjust the contrast in the midtones, highlights, and shadows. But there are some really cool color effects you can get by adjusting the RGB curves individually. If you could explain the basics of how to do that, it would be really helpful. Thanks!

  2. Zack Jones

    I answered “Not At All” so feel free to assume your readers have zero knowledge of curves and go from there. You can always make it a multi-part series where you start with the basics and move into more advanced techniques.

  3. Steve K

    When I print, I use soft proofing on a calibrated monitor and profiled printer. The soft proof is, well, soft. Colors lose there snap. A print made then will match the soft proof version on the monitor, but what I want is something closer to what I had at the end of the editing process.

    I’ve been using the curves strong-contrast preset to get the soft-proof version closer to what I want, but it isn’t enough.

    Do you have any suggestions?

  4. Sandy VanderTol

    I process thousands of photos every week as a wedding and portrait photographer and use Curves more than Levels. Although I know how to use the Options button on Curves and adjust for clipping in the Shadows and Highlights, I’m always up for learning new things to make my workflow go at the speed of light. Bring it on!

  5. Eric W

    I’m not the greatest at curves – have more of a feel of ‘em, rather than a definite knowledge. I’m not sure I’d be that interested in tutorials, but seeing how other people use ‘em would be a nice way to round out the knowledge!

  6. Pingback: Tone Up Your Curves Skills

  7. Richard Wong

    This is a great idea, Brian. Curves is such a powerful tool but very difficult to get good at. I learned about it when I took a printing class in grad school but am still learning new tricks.

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