Exposure Adjustment Layers

Exposure Adjustment layer is used to control the exposure of an image. In Exposure adjustment layer you’ll have three slider, Exposure adjust the highlight without affecting the dark areas. Offset adjust the midtones and Gamma adjust the dark tones without modify the highlights.

Here we’ve the first image with increased exposure.


Second image with decreased offset.


Third image with decreased gamma.


Vibrance Adjustment Layers

The Vibrance adjustment layers is used to edit the color and saturation of a photo. You can increase and decrease saturation and vibrance of an image.

Here we’ve the image of girl again. Add a Vibrance adjustment layers to it and see the effect.


Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer

Another adjustment layer is Hue/Saturation adjustment layer. You can adjust the color, saturation, and lightness of a specific range of color in a photo or it also allows you to adjust all the colors simultaneously.

You can adjust all the colors at the same time by selecting the Master on the color list and then move any of the three slider.

Image with decreased lightness and saturation.


Using the Hue.


Colorizing the whole image at once using Colorize options.


Color Balance Adjustment layers

Color Balance adjustment layer is used to adjust the color from shadows to highlight. It is very useful and used in all kind photo manipulation.

Before we head towards the Color Balance adjustment layer let me give you little bit detail about the opposite colors in Photoshop.

We are working in RGB document (To ensure select Image > Mode) and obviously it will have three color Red, Green and Blue. In Photoshop each of three colors has its opposite colors. Opposite color of Red is Cyan, Green has Magenta and opposite of Blue color is Yellow.

To practice Color Balance adjustment layer open up the sky image (feel free to open any image).


Add a Color Balance adjustment layer to sky.

Here are values:


In the above image I added colors to midtones and highlights by dragging the slider toward the color which you want to. As you can also see that each color has it’s own opposite color.

Here are the results:


As a result we’ve very beautiful dreamy lake scene with fantastic color. Similarly you can add colors to shadow tones and I think you should try that to see the results.

Gradient Map

Another important adjustment layer is Gradient Map. You can add many colors to different tones with Gradient Map. It works same as Gradient tool.

Open up the beach in Photoshop.


Add a Gradient Map adjustment layer to it and double-click on it to open gradient editor then choose the black/white (3rd on presets) gradient.


Shadow area will effect on darker tones and I’ve chosen the dark blue color for it. For highlight I’ve chosen dark orange color for highlights and remaining area will affect the midtones.


Change the blend mode of Gradient Map to Color Dodge (that always gone brighten up the image). Here are the results:


Gradient Map works best with blend modes and you can change the blend mode of gradient map to different one that satisfied your need. Also, try reducing the opacity because sometimes it’s gives you more better results.

Selective Color Adjustment layer

Selective Color adjustment layer allow you to modify the primary color without affecting the other colors. This adjustment layer used at least as often because most of the people don’t know how Selective Color adjustment layer work.

Let’s learn more about it using an example. Open up the countryside image in Photoshop.


In the countryside image the majority of the color is yellow and red. But it has more yellow tone than red tone. Now add a Selective Color adjustment to it and choose yellow colors. Here are the values:


In the above image we have four sliders, first three for color and last one is black which used to change overall luminosity of the chosen color. A Negative value on the black will make the color brighter and positive values make the color darker.


The above illustration explains how Selective Color adjustment layers work’s. You’ve also noticed (in the previous screenshot) that I’ve reduced the cyan color that means I added the red color to the image. Reducing the magenta means adding the green color and finally increasing the yellow mean reducing the blue color.

Here are the results:


Now I think you are well aware of with Selective Color adjustment layer. You can use Selective Color when Hue/Saturation and Color Balance adjustment layer doesn’t work.

Bonus Tip: All the adjustment layer affect all the layers below it. You can get rid of this using Clipping Mask and it allows you to only affect layer which you want. In the below image you can press the clipping mask icon button to clip the adjustment layer to the image.



That’s it for the tutorial and obviously it all about the basic of the Adjustment layer. There is always more to learn in Photoshop. You’ll learn more about it in upcoming advanced tutorials.

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