Photo editing basics: working with layers

Learn how to use layers in your favourite image editor to improve your photos and add sophisticated effects.

The Magic of Adjustment Layers

In this instance, choose Levels and click OK on the New Layer dialog box. You should see the Levels control, which you can manipulate to improve the exposure of you photo.

Adjust the white point, black point, and gamma to your taste. For help, read "Punch Up Photos With the Histogram" and "Perfect Photos Every Time." When you're satisfied with the results, click OK. If this were a single-layer photo, you'd be done at this point; anything that you did to the levels would be baked into the original image. But that's where the magic of layers becomes evident: Our various manipulations so far haven't affected the original photo at all. As a result, you can now blend the original photo with the adjustment layer by using the Opacity control. Click Opacity in the Levels Palette and back off from 100 percent; when you reach a combination of the two levels that you like, stop.

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