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Barry

Curves Adjustment Layer

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How many people use a curves adjustment layer in Photoshop while manipulating images, particularly for club competitions ?

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I don't do club competitions, but do use a curves adjustment layer all the time. However, I do mine by setting the adjustment layer, changing the blend mode to overlay and reducing the opacity to 50%. I don't alter the default curve setting, the layer give the adjustment in contract by it self. I can then vary by altering the opacity or adding a further curves adjustment layers. I have set up an action to do this.

 

Why are you asking?

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If you’re a Raw shooter, as I am and of course most club members. I cannot see any reason to use adjustment layers at all. Adjustment layers allow strategic editing of one or two areas of an image, but if you shoot raw and edit through ACR, why would you want to use adjustment layers. They offer no advantage that I can see.

Surely everything you want to do can be done with greater latitude in RAW. If the image your working is a Jpg, then I can see some merits, but for most enthusiastic amateurs, they are not.

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Adjustment layers allow you to apply adjustments to individual parts of an image, for example if using luminosity masking. They also allow you to change the blend mode for that part of an image and adjust the opacity of that part of the image. With ACR you need to set the layer to a smart object to allow you to go back to the raw adjustments. Although you have the radial and gradient filters in raw they do not allow the fine control that can be provided with luminosity masking. Applying a blend mode to the ACR layer is globally applied unless you duplicate the layer, similarly the adjustment of the opacity. Where I think adjustment layers win is with black and white images where fine control of the tones can be achieved. 

Certainly using ACR in most cases is likely to produce a perfectly acceptable image, but it is a case of just how far you want to tweak and adjust for perfection when using adjustment layers.

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If you were placing image editing techniques in order of preference for quality and latitude,  then generally speaking, wouldn't we place Raw editing way ahead of Adjustment layers. This assumes the author is shooting Raw in the first place of course.

If they are not,  the question is rather irrelevant and if they are, why mess with adjustment layers. Rightly or wrongly, when I hear adjustment layers I think of jpg's

 

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