How to Correct Images with Color Curves

By Barbara Obermeier, Ted Padova

Photoshop Elements 10 borrowed a much-used feature from Photoshop named Curves. However, it added the word Color and took away some of its sophistication. Nevertheless, the Color Curves adjustment attempts to improve the tonal range in color images by making adjustments to highlights, shadows, and midtones in each color channel.

Try using this command on images in which the foreground elements appear overly dark due to backlighting. Conversely, the adjustment is also designed to correct images that appear overexposed and washed out.

Here’s how to use this great adjustment on a selection, a layer, or an entire image:

1In Full Photo Edit or Quick Photo Edit mode, choose Enhance→Adjust Color→Adjust Color Curves.

The Adjust Color Curves dialog box appears. Make sure to select the Preview check box. Move the dialog box to the side so that you can view the image window while making adjustments.

2Select a style to make your desired adjustments while viewing your image in the After window.

Various curve adjustments appear in the Select a Style area.

3If you need greater precision, use the highlight, brightness, contrast, and shadow adjustment sliders.

The graph on the right represents the distribution of tones in your image. When you first access the Color Curves dialog box, the tonal range of your image is represented by a straight line. While you drag the sliders, the straight line is altered, and the tonal range is adjusted accordingly.

4Adjust the image to your satisfaction.

Click OK.

5To start over, click the Reset button.

Color Curves improves tonal range in color images.