Skip to main content
Library Research Guides

Getting Started with Photoshop CS6

Information on Photoshop basics including: how to open and create a new image, navigating pallets, learning the parts of a layer, how to use guides, and where to go for more help at the University of Michigan.

Correcting Exposure / Tone in an Image

Tone Adjustments in Adjustments Palette

With Photoshop, you change the exposure or tones of an image in a variety of ways, depending on what you are trying to do. You can change contast and brightness of the entire image, or make a selection and apply the change to just that small area. These are just a few of the tools you might want to use.

In the Adjustments Palette, you can choose presets, or click on an icon to make your own choices –explore!



·      Brightness/Contrast: applies the same adjustment to every pixel in the selection or image (i.e., if you increase the brightness value by 30, 30 is added to the brightness value of every pixel). 

·      Levels: allows precise adjustments using three variables (highlights, shadows, and midtones). Use the black (shadow), white (highlight), and gray (midtone) sliders to adjust the black point, white point, and overall brightness respectively. 


·      Curves: is similar to levels, but rather than changing sliders on a plane you can add points to a graph. Use the eyedropper buttons (Curves Eyedroppers) to set your black and white points or use the hand icon (Hand icon in Curves Palette) to click on your image where you would like it be lighter/darker and move your cursor up and down to brighten and darken the image. 

·      Exposure: use multiple sliders to adjust the exposure, offset, and gamma of an image. 

Correcting Color in an Image

Color adjustments in Adjustment Palette

There are many different ways to work with color, including using a variety of tools (some of which are discussed below) and applying fill layers (which use a different layer for the fill effect, so it is easier to alter if you change your mind). Remember as you’re working with color that Hue is color, saturation is the purity of the color, and lightness is how much white or black is in the image. 

In the Adjustments Palette, you can choose presets, or click on an icon to make your own choices – explore!


·      Vibrance: allows you to quickly and easily increase the saturation and vibrance of your image.


·      Hue/Saturation: contains mutliple sliders hue, saturation, and lightness. Very quick and easy to use.


·      Color Balance: lets you change the mixture of colors in a color image. Use sliders featuring complimentary colors to remove a color cast and to correct the overall color of your image.


·      Selective Color: allows you to select a specific color and change the value and mixture of that color. For example, Select Green in the Selective Color panel and you will be given sliders to allow you to change how that green appears. You may add more yellow, less black, more magenta, basically whatever color formula you'd like.

Working with Color

There are many different ways to work with color, including using a variety of tools (some of which are discussed below) and applying fill layers (which use a different layer for the fill effect, so it is easier to alter if you change your mind). Remember as you’re working with color that Hue is color, saturation is the purity of the color, and lightness is how much white or black is in the image.