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21 Oct 2021 10:16PM   Views : 514 Unique : 261

Threshold is one of those image adjustments that may at first seem at best odd and at worst perhaps pointless. There may be some other uses, but here's what I've used it for.

I'm going back a couple of years to 2019 and some photos of Ben.M I took at one of John Duder's lighting workshops. I must emphasise that the key part of making the image lies in the lighting. That gets you where you need to be. Don't ignore or undervalue the importance of getting a good image in camera. The post processing just enhances the result to get to a point I'd envisaged.


The idea in this studio set-up was to light the background and have Ben appear in profile. It's almost silhouette as there is some detail in the subject created by light bouncing off the background. Indeed, a little detail like this does help with shape and form. It is perfectly possible to reduce the Black level to get pure black with no detail if you want to. I could have done that, but I wanted something much simpler, I wanted a pure shape.

That's where the Threshold adjustment comes in. It produces pure black and puire white tones, Something that isn't quite so effective by adjusting the Black and White points using the Levels adjustments. Threshold has its own control so you can vary what becomes black or white, and there's no grey. That said, I left mine at the default as that looked good and just shows hat if you get the lighting right to start with it makes adjustments in software so much easier and more pleasing to the eye.


My idea was to create a narrative of a saxophonist playing the blues, hence the colour. Perhaps not an original idea and I don't always come up with fancy titles, its the image I'm interested in. To do this I created a new Fill Layer and set the blend mode to Colour. I was happy with the result, so left the opacity of that Fill Layer at 100%, Depending on your own preferences you may want a lower opacity for more subtlety. Experimenting with Blend Modes revealed other options like a blue figure on a white background and different complementary colours such as a yellow figure on a blue background. I guess those could make for a triptych or pop art arrangement.


I had to use a Fill Layer to get the colour because the Recolour adjustment, which I often use for sepia and other toning, won't work with pure blacks and whites. However, as all the adjustments are made on separate layers it's easy to switch them on and off and in doing so I found I liked the effect of the Recolour on the oriinl image as there were some mid-tones that the colour could work on. This turned ou to be my favourite version. If, in the future, I want a different colour, I won't go tough the whole profess again as the Hue/Saturation adjustment will work just fine.

Threshold is useful for producing a solid silhouette useful on its own or in a composite as I did here with this image from Southport airshow taken a few years ago.


It's worth crossing the threshold now and again.

All text and images Keith Rowley 2021


iancrowson 12 215 169 United Kingdom
23 Oct 2021 9:30AM
Thanks, interesting results, regards Ian Crowson
dudler Plus
19 2.0k 1965 England
23 Oct 2021 4:57PM
Very interesting - and something i didn't know about, Keith. So I had to go looking - in PS, typing 'threshold' into Help actually set it running - subsequently I found it's in Image/Adjustments.

I shall enjoy playing with that. Thank you!
pink Plus
19 7.1k 10 England
27 Oct 2021 5:17PM
Something I'd not come across but then PS is so deep I'm sure most of us only scratch the surface.
Need to find a suitable image to have a play.....................
Thanks Keith

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