Photoshop Elements 15: Curves

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Elements really needs Curves to allow more flexible control over light/shade in a photograph. I purchased Elements 15 to replace Photoimpact 13 which no longer has any support. I find myself going back to Photoimpact because it does have this feature and find that it is still a very good photo editor which Elements cannot completely replace. 
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BobH

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Posted 1 year ago

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Steve Lehman

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Thanks for your comment, Bob.  Each of us have our favorites.  I like curves in Photoshop CS version.  In the same way you had Adobe Photoimpact, the rest of us have Light Room.  It has the light/shades and can make light change in nano-steps that makes curves look like an antique.  It came in a bundle with Photoshop in one offer.  Call Adobe Sales to make a bundle deal to include Light Room (if they still have it).   I don't usually give out Adobe's phone number and this is not for support, it's for Sales.  Adobe Tel: 408-536-6000 ask for sales.    

Steve Lehman, MCSE Responding   
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Steve Lehman

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Thanks for your comment, Bob.  Each of us have our favorites.  I like curves in Photoshop CS version.  In the same way you had Adobe Photoimpact, the rest of us have Light Room.  It has the light/shades and can make light change in nano-steps that makes curves look like an antique.  It came in a bundle with Photoshop in one offer.  Call Adobe Sales to make a bundle deal to include Light Room (if they still have it).   I don't usually give out Adobe's phone number and this is not for support, it's for Sales.  Adobe Tel: 408-536-6000 ask for sales.    

Steve Lehman, MCSE Responding   
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BobH

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Thanks for your reply Steve. I will persevere with Elements for now as it has most things well covered. As you say, we all have our favourites and I got used to having curves in PhotoImpact (which is now owned by Corel but has not been updated since they bought it from Ulead).
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JEA

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Photoshop elements does have Enhance>Adjust Color>Adjust Color Curves

Being in Expert or quick mode is required to use the Color Curves.

Not as versatile as most "real" curves adjustments like in Photoshop.


(Edited)
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BobH

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I have used colour curves and what you said is quite correct, it is good but not as good as curves. Thanks for taking the time to answer.
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JEA

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There are two third party plugins that permit running a plugin called Smart Curve in pse 15 if your on a windows system.
While there is a 64 bit version of smart curve, unfortunately it seems to crash pse 15, so the two options below allow running the 32 bit smart curve plugin in the 64 bit pse 15.

http://members.chello.at/easyfilter/curves.html#Download



Alpha plugins Launch Box
http://www.alphaplugins.com/products/products.php?menu=get_prod_id&p_menustate=&prod_id=19




and

Media chance Plugin Bridge
http://www.mediachance.com/pluginbridge/




Of the two the Media Chance Plugin Bridge is far easier to install and setup.
The Alpha plugins Launch Box is harder to install and setup and slow in use.

One major disadvantage is that the regular smart curve plugin works with 64 bits/channel images, while running the plugin in the above two options only allow the plugin to work with 8 bits/channel images.

Still its far more versatile than the  Enhance>Adjust Color>Adjust Color Curves
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BobH

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Thanks for your advice, I will look into those options
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Michel BRETECHER, Champion

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BobH,
Many thanks,
Unfortunately, the smartcurves plugin in 64 bits computer crashes... I hope that will be solved because I really liked the 32-bits version. The introducing text also gives interesting suggestions for other very useful add-ons.

For the gradient map adjustment layer solution, see:
http://www.photokaboom.com/photography/learn/Photoshop_Elements/curves_gradient_map/2_curves_gradien...
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BobH

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Thanks for the link in regards using the Gradient Map. I will give that a try. There certainly seems a lot to learn in Elements!
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Michel BRETECHER, Champion

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I agree with Steve and JEA.

It's amazing how the 'curves' tool has lost its status of 'necessary' in the last ten years. Both advanced and new users rarely use it now especially with Elements.
The purpose is to adjust the ranges of tones separately with much more control than the levels tool.  But... the curves tool has one serious drawback compared with the tonal adjustments in the 'shadow/highlight' tool and still more with the same adjustments in ACR/Lightroom. The same adjustments in curves don't work on local contrast (like clarity, High strength USM or High Pass...) It's much easier, flexible and fast to use the other tools!

Special notes about Elements:
- older versions of Elements had no 'curves' tool before the one mentioned by JEA. The problem is that nearly all users don't find the tool in the 'color' adjustment menu. It's especially useful for beginners: you start with selecting your purpose and you are shown the resulting curves. You can adjust the curves via sliders instead of points. There are no adjustment layers...
- Old Elements users always added free or very affordable add'ons to get back the tool in Photoshop
- Advanced Elements users used gradient map adjustment layers in luminosity mode to get the same powerful edits. My preferred choice...

Of course, I'll be happy if Adobe adds the Photoshop curves and curve adjusments to Element, but that would mean replacing the present 'color curves' tool which is much better for learning. You can still get free or low-cost add-ons to get the feature back.
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BobH

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Thanks for your help. I haven't tried gradient map adjustment in luminosity mode, so that is something I will experiment with. I do a fair amount of conversion to black and white and whilst I have had some success my images, I have yet to get the tonal range that I am looking for. I will keep trying ..
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Michel BRETECHER, Champion

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Just like the curves tool, you have to get acquainted with the gradient map tool. What is important to understand is that it's a different interface for the same background calculations. Tabs instead of points, visual tones strips instead of curves. The nice thing is that you are using adjustment layers (no curves adjustment layers in Elements) and that you can create and save your gradients just like you can save and re-use curves.
I no longer use curves (I am working in the Elements ACR) but I frequently use my default gradients for special tasks, such as creating tone masks, increasing the range of flat tones layers (difference mode, high pass layers...)
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Steve Lehman

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When I want tiny steps of color adjustments I try color curves adjustments first before I adjust the same image using Light Room.   I get more out of Light Room than point oriented adjustments.   But if we look hard enough, we find the same tools in Elements as in the full CS.   And if you're not using Expert Mode, there's no point to being there.   Load all of the tools at once.   

Steve Lehman, MCSE      
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BobH

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Thanks Steve, I always use expert mode but haven.t yet gone through all the options available to me. Generally I am happy with what I can do in colour.
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Richard Barnum

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Bob

Another option is to buy a plug in.  Here is one I use called Elements+.  I can be found at http://elementsplus.net/  They have a trial or you can purchase one.  I cost just $12.00 and also has video tutorials  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5vkMJ-OB_b4  this will get you about 90% of the functionality of Photoshop.

Rich
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BobH

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Thanks Richard, this may what I am looking for, I will check it out. I tend to use a combination of the tools available within Elements to try and achieve what I want. I had been using PhotoImpact for many years and I am trying to move away from it due to lack of support and product development. Curves is the one thing that I miss when I am in Elements although it is not always the right tool for the job, it is handy to have it available.