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Photoshop® CS4 Bible by Dan Moughamian, Simon Abrams, Stacy Cates

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14.4. Decreasing Contrast and Detail

Sometimes you need to lower contrast in images, as odd as that may sound. Let's say you're making a collage and want a low-contrast image in the background and a high-contrast image in the foreground, or you need to create a very subtle, low-contrast pattern or photo to put behind text. The good news is that you can use most of the same techniques as those mentioned in the previous section that increase contrast — just in reverse.

Lowering contrast often means darkening the lights and lightening the darks, which is the opposite of what you do when you increase contrast. Images usually look like they contain less detail when their contrast is reduced. Images like this can help nearby high contrast and highly detailed images stand out.

The next sections talk about the differences in the techniques to lower contrast and the techniques discussed in the previous section that increase contrast. You can refer to the techniques to increase contrast for more details about how to use these methods.

14.4.1. Decreasing contrast with curves

You can lower contrast in images by making a curve in a Curves adjustment layer less steep than it was originally. The parts of the image that correspond to the less-steep part of the curve will have reduced contrast. Just as when you are increasing contrast, you can decrease contrast in the full-color composite channel or the individual color channels by selecting them from the drop-down list near the top of the curves ...

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