Photoshop Top 40, Feature #9: Levels

Feature #9 is my favorite adjustment command: Levels. Adjusted only slightly since its introduction in Version 1.0, this seminal feature lets you set the black and white points, as well as correct the midtones without harming either. It refrains from clipping colors unless you tell it to. It boasts Photoshop’s first on-board histogram. And it works as well in CMYK and Lab as in RGB.

(Well there’s another clue for you all.)

We had nearly twice as many entries last week as the week before, with 19 of you correctly guessing Levels or some variation. The winner is earthrat, whose guessed “Using Levels to work.” Congrats to earthrat!

Now it’s time to guess Feature #8. Hint: It’s the ultimate convenience tool. All members have been sent an email invitation with a URL to enter the contest. (No direct URL this time around.) Join dekeOnline now to receive a reminder and an invitation to next week’s contest!

The Levels command—not to mention its cohort the histogram—lets you adjust luminance levels on a channel-by-channel basis. The upshot is that you can increase contrast, correct for color cast, and make a bad image good. Or a good image great. It’s entirely up to you.

The base photograph is file #9920927 from photoCD of the Fotolia image library. For an exclusive dekeOnline deal, click this link.

(For a list of all Photoshop Top 40 videos thus far, click here.)

Photoshop Top 40 is available as a downloadable podcast from iTunes. Click here to subscribe. dekePod subscribers will get the videos automatically.

Best of luck on Feature #8!

Next entry:Martini Hour 053, In Which Photoshop Turns Twenty and Martini Hour Turns One

Previous entry:Martini Hour 052, In Which Colleen Compliments Our Guest’s Definition of a Martini

  • Email links - not fair enough

    Deke, you can’t shoot all emails at once, depending on the place in the mailing list some guys might suffer a 30min delay!

  • I’ll take this into account

    Might adjust the rules a bit next time around as well.

  • \“Reverse-order countdown\”

    Hey Deke, why do you keep referring to this list as a “reverse-order countdown?”  Aren’t countdowns implicitly reverse order, compared to normal counting?  You know, NASA launches and Casey Kasem and all that?  Isn’t it like saying “unexpected surprise” or “PIN number?”

    Not complaining about the quality of the series, it’s great.  Just not sure what you’re getting at with “reverse-order countdown.”  It’s like a double negative, does it really mean a count-up?

  • Don’t forget the countdown to New Years

    The advent calendar, the seconds remaining on your progress bar, and just about every Top 10 list on the planet.

    But, see, what you neglected to notice was that I’m pictured in mirror image. So my reflection (did I mention I also write backward?) turns what you perceive as a double-negative into a triple-negative.

  • Hey deke where is the invitation for the #8 Top40 Feature?

    There’s no invitation yet for the #8 feature in Photoshop Top40 on my mail yet?

  • Photoshop 20th anniversary

    Planning anything for the Photoshop’s big birthday?

  • Ha ha

    Now I know how the word ‘Deke’ really got into Merriam - Webster’s website. (see this link)

    Definition of deke

  • PS contest junkie

    I haven’t see the #8 invite yet either. I’m a sucker for these contests and I need my weekly fix:)


  • option-adjustment layers

    I was wondering if you can tell me why, when I use the option key while selecting an adjustment layer,I can name the layer, clip in needed, etc. ,and I can select a blend mode as usual, but it actually doesn’t change when I click ok and see the layers palette.??  Everything changes correctly except the blend mode.  I can’t figure out why?  Mac OS X.5.  Help please..

  • Because of the way Constant Contact works

    We have to invite participants to the contest via the newsletter. Otherwise, we have no way to identify a participant and triangulate that person with the user database.

    Our plan is to email newsletters on Tuesday and a reminder on Thursday (which you should have received yesterday evening).

    We’ll also be adjusting the rules for Feature #7: Rather than award the first correct submission, we’ll randomly pick a winner from all correct answers, regardless of time stamp.

    Thanks for everyone’s patience. Obviously, we’re learning as we go.

  • So the blend mode comes up Normal?

    I tried a few experiments on my end and couldn’t duplicate the problem. I’m using Photoshop CS4 11.0.1, which is upgrade that you can automatically download. Which version of the software are you using?

  • option-adjustment layers

    I have the same version of CS4.  The blend mode won’t change from the dialogue box.  I have to go back to the layers panel and change it??  Which, of course, sort of defeats the purpose.  What do you think I should do??

  • Hey deke, no e-mail invitation for feature #8 yet!

    Just no e-mail invitation yet, not fair.

  • Anyone has the invitation Link for #8???

    Plz Help me

  • Contest Link

    Click on the same link that you received in your [e-mail] notice for #9…. it should take you to the #8 entry (we just tested this and it works fine).  Taking a little time to “try” things on your own or maybe thoroughly check Deke’s site for the link is what “learning” is all about.

  • We’re trying to be fair

    Make sure your username (here on the site) is associated with a valid email address. Check your spam folder.

    The other possibility is that your gmail account is blocking the newsletter on the server side, which sucks for us but not much we can do.

    If this continues to be a problem, we may just have to continue to adjust. (:-/

  • TOP 40

    Amazing series,Love your style and presentation.


  • Can you send me again the link plz, I’m just out the #8 featur

    thanx deke for ur patience!

  • Newsletters and GMail

    Deke… Googles Gmail is [apparently] NOT causing any problems.  After listening to that poor soul complain (repeatedly) we forwarded your last (#8) newsletter to/through our gmail account and it came through, with all graphics and links intact in 2-3 minutes.  This is even with the FWD in the subject line which often alerts many SMTP servers and services to possible spam.

    From not receiving newsletters to not being able to view a simple FLV video… the problems are NOT with you or your web site… ‘tis time for the old M$ tech question (to those users) of “is your computer plugged in?”


  • Are u talking about mi Rig> drjack ??

    Hey folks, i’m just trying to participate, i have a us$3.500 rig, Core i7-920, 6gb DDR3, X58 Chipset & XFX GTX 260 and many more, Win7 x64 and belive me it’s no my rig!

  • No… not really

    This is really a topic for a “tech blog” and NOT this site but…

    .. to answer your question: NO, I was not referring to your “rig” or (to the best of my knowledge) even to you but, since I had seen a number of users complain about such things as “missing” e-mail and the inability to view Deke’s videos, I took it upon myself to run a number of tests (using multiple computers and various service providers).

    As a retired web designer and internet consultant I can say, with 99% surety, that (with the exception of the first contest having some linkage problems) none of the problems mentioned [recently] in this blog regarding receiving mail and/or viewing streaming video are the fault of Deke’s website or (as we ascertained) Google’s spam filters.  If your email addy is correctly in Constant Contact’s mailing list… there should be no problem what-so-ever.

    Anyone experiencing the problems mentioned needs to look “inwards”.  (which was the basis for my flippant “computer plugged in” remark)

    In regards to your “rig” (or anyone’s)... in these instances “hardware”

    would not be the culprit (and the cost of a “rig” is, for the most part, irrelevant)... but software conflicts, “damaged” drivers and/or missing codecs (even an outdated “player”) could be responsible for one not being able to “play” a (FLV) video and one should check with their service provider if their e-mail is [somehow] being “filtered”.  Your ISP “could” even be causing problems with the video stream. Okay… enough techno, trouble shooting… let’s get back to PhotoShop.
  • You never understood me, from the beginning

    Only I’m asking for is the link, Direct link to participate, plz deke help me with this one.

    It’s not soft or hardware issues, it’s simply this, to the date i can’t participate in Feature #8 because the link has not arrived. I tried to move on, created a new account aka Spawn071178_2 and the invitation didn’t arrived, so plz no discussion only the link if anyone has it.

    I have Creative Suite Master Collection CS4,  drivers, OS and so on up to date.

  • if anyone has it

    I would be more than happy to provide you with the “link” (URL) which came in my copy of the newsletter BUT…

    ... since it “appears” (and I could be wrong) that Deke (via Constant Contact) has used a unique, user specific URL for each newsletter, the URL sent to me (or the URL sent to “anyone else”) would not work for you.

    I am sorry… but at this time only Deke can assist you.

  • I can give you the link

    Just click here to go to the questionnaire/entry form.

    Problem is, as drjack mentioned, the newsletter link provides you with a unique ID. The link above is generic and will be ID you as Anonymous, leaving me no way to tell you who you are.

    The newsletter is definitely set to go out to the email address that you provided. I’m afraid that’s about the best we can do.

  • When it comes down to it

    a rig, or “tool”; is only as good as the user of it.  Take me for example, not one boss has figured out how to make it work in 40+ years.  Must be a charmed life I’m living!

    And then there were only seven left….  at least with the time stamp, I felt like I had a chance; now there’s the drawing on top of that… and I have not even answered one clue right yet!  Come on Deke and crew, make #1 a Graphic Showdown, then at least I can look upon cool creations, and know I was truly bested…

  • I stand corrected!

    I guess I failed to realize you were looking in a mirror while watching that one scene in Twin Peaks (or perhaps Memento is a more accessible reference) south of the equator.  Thanks for the clarification!

  • Vegas

    Had it @ 10:1 you sat corrected :-)

  • great experience so far on

    great experience so far on blog. every time I come here I found something useful ..i am a regular visitor of your blog!

  • Hi

    It is good to read your post. Thank you to help making people more aware of these features. Great stuff as usual.

  • for online

    Nice trick i’ll try it

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