How to Control Contrast and Lightness in GIMP

Thursday, June 2, 2011  at 6:58 AM
Choose the main shades your viewers will see in your photograph.  Welcome to the fourth article in my Photography Editing in GIMP series!

Previous articles:

Article 1: Easy Photography Editing in GIMP
Article 2: How to Crop in GIMP
Article 3:  How to Control Saturation in GIMP

These tutorials use the free photo-editing program GIMP.  I am not being paid to endorse GIMP--I just really like it!
Control Contrast and Lightness

Adjusting the lightness of a photo allows you to control how dark or light it is overall--you mainly see this with the mid-tones.  By changing the contrast, you are primarily controlling the lights and the darks, not the middle values.  When you increase the contrast, you will make the lights lighter and the darks darker.  However, when you decrease the contrast then the lights and the darks both move more towards the mid-tone range.

By tweaking the lightness and the contrast, you can go from a photo like this:

Boats on a canal in Venice, Italy by Danalynn C

to a photo like this:

Boats on a Canal in Venice by Danalynn C

Step 1: Open the photo in GIMP and select the button "Brightness-Contrast" under the "Colors" tab. 

Boats on a Canal in Venice by Danalynn C

Step 2: Use the brightness slider to control the overall brightness of the photo.  This takes all of the values and makes them all brighter or darker.

Boats on a Canal in Venice, Italy by Danalynn C

Step 3: Use the contrast slider to control the contrast of the photo.  Remember, contrast makes colors more vivid as well as making shadows deeper and highlights brighter!

Boats on a Canal in Venice, Italy gimp tutorial contrast

Step 4: Save once you have the correct balance of lightness and contrast!  By decreasing the contrast you can make the photo look older and more dull, while increasing the contrast tends to make it pop more.  I love increasing the contrast on my photos, even just a bit, to make them seem a bit more alive. 

Boats on a Canal in Venice, Italy gimp tutorial contrast
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...