adjusting tone curve / skin tones


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Jun 27, 2010
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I just read something about how adjust the tone curve (dragging the middle part of the curve straight upward) can even skin tones. I tried this out, and I saw the entire histogram shift to the right. Is there something more nuanced going on? From what I understand, pulling the curve straight up is just raising all midtones in exposure? How does this correlate to smoothing skin tones? Is it because the shadows and highlights are less contrasty? Thanks!
Dragging the curve up in the middle does affect the midtoness, and actually some of the highlights and shadows too. If you want to smoothen the contrast, you can do that selectively on the highlights using the alpha channel, or even luminosity masks. If you want to smoothen skin texture, you can try frequency separation. It also depends on what kinda image you are trying to edit - is it for professional portrait?
You might want to check threads in the post processing stuff forum:
Graphics Programs and Photo Gallery

I use the Clarity slider in Camera Raw/Lightroom Develop module to do my initial adjust to midtones.
Later in Photoshop I make a mask and use a Curves Adjustment layer to further adjust mid-tone contrast.
Dragging the tone curve at the mid point obviously lightens the mid range tones but if you look closely you will see that it also reduces the curve gradient in the light tones and hence the light tone contrast and at the same time it increases the gradient in the dark tones and hence the dark tone contrast.

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