The Diminishing Role of Curves in Photoshop

by Scott Kelby  |  65 Comments


The other day I’m sitting at my desk between meetings, and I was thinking about something I wanted to do in Photoshop to a photo I had just taken, and something kind of just popped in my head that really surprised me. It was the realization that I hardly use Curves anymore.

Now, I’m not talking about creating contrast using the Tone Curve in Camera Raw, or Lightroom (because I do that all the time)—-I’m talking about actually color correcting your photos using good old-fashioned Curves (as seen above), or a Curves Adjustment Layer in Photoshop (which is essentially the same thing).

This kind of freaked me out, because I used to live in Curves—I was in that dialog 50 times a day for years and years, and I couldn’t imagine doing any kind of color correction in Photoshop without it, and now here I am sitting there wondering when the last time I used Curves to color correct a photo. Of course, I knew why I wasn’t using it—it’s because I now do my color correction in Lightroom or Camera Raw (primarily just by properly setting the white balance), and the only time I really need to bring up Curves within Photoshop itself is if I need to fix the color after I’ve already edited the photo in Lightroom or Camera Raw, and that is pretty rare these days.

I wondered if “it’s just me,” so I walked over to my buddy’s Matt Kloskowski’s office and asked him about his Curves use. He said he couldn’t remember the last time he color corrected a photo using Curves. I think we were both a little stunned. We both still use it when we need it, but clearly its role in both our workflows has significantly diminished.

So, I sent a few emails out to some outside Photoshop’s buddies asking about their Curves use in Photoshop, and I was hearing the same thing from them (one wrote, “…very rarely, but I do use it from time to time”). I don’t think this is a bad thing—I think it’s just an evolution of how we use Photoshop today, and I think it’s a good indicator at how much easier the color correction process has become thanks to Lightroom and Camera Raw, and their ability to process and correct Raw, JPEG, and TIFF images.

Anyway, I’d love to hear about your use of Curves, and whether you’re still using Curves as much as you used to, or if you have modified your workflow to reflect the tools we now have at our disposal. I invite you to take the survey below and share where Curves fits into your current workflow.

DISCLAIMER: I just want to make it clear that I’m not saying anything bad about Curves. I love Curves—always have, probably always will—-it’s a beloved part of Photoshop that absolutely still has it’s place and I would hate to think of Photoshop without it. And please don’t go and write, “Scott says not to use Curves anymore.” I’m not saying that at all—I’m just making an observation of how my use of Curves has changed, and I’m anxious to hear your thoughts on your level of Curves usage.

NOTE: Please only take the survey below if you do, or at one time did, use Curves regularly for color correction in your Photoshop workflow.


Friday News Wrap-up

by Scott Kelby  |  13 Comments


Whoo Hooo! It’s Friday!!!

Before we get into the news, I just wanted to thank this week’s Guest Blogger Tim Mantoai for his wonderful post (and images) this week. If you look at the comments readers posted about his story, you see the word “Inspirational” is about every other post, and right now I think a lot of us needed that. Thanks Tim, and my thanks to Brad for his help in bringing Tim’s work and words to the blog this week.

Now, Here’s what’s up:

  • Yesterday, one of my readers let me know that a graphic we created for an email campaign (shown above) was featured on It seems that the top of the logo on the football was cut-off, and that’s pretty messed up (as you can see). Anyway, when I saw it over on, I just totally cracked up! Sadly, that’s the least of what sneaks by us sometimes, but of course, then I had to go and fire the designer who created it (Kidding!). Thanks PhotoshopDisasters for keeping us honest! :-)
  • We finally did get Episode #2 of D-Town TV (The new weekly show for Nikon DSLR users) posted online late yesterday afternoon, and it includes a great tip for setting up your camera for shooting HDR, along with a bonus video from Matt and how to process the HDR file created by your camera using Photomatix (along with our other camera tips). If you haven’t caught the new episode yet, you can watch it right here.
  • A big shout out and thanks to for including “The Photoshop Insider” as #35 in their Top 100 “Best in Photography” list of photo sites. I was pretty psyched! Here’s the link to their top 100 list.
  • Lastly, for some wonderful weekend inspiration, check out the work of photographer Loretta Lux. It’s a very different style, but her stuff rocks!!!! Here’s the link.

That’s it for today. Have a great weekend everybody, and we’ll see you back here on Monday.


Thursdays News Stuff

by Scott Kelby  |  19 Comments


Howdy folks; here’s what’s up:

  • Adobe has released a free update to Camera Raw and Lightroom which adds supports for the Nikon D3x, and the Olympus E-30 cameras (Note: The Lightroom update also includes a few bug fixes). Here’s where to download the free update for Camera Raw (Mac | Windows), and here’s where to download the Lightroom update (Mac | Windows).
  • Friend of the blog, photographer Janine Smith, knows I’m a Type freak, and she sent me this site that I absolutely Love. It’s called “Flipping Typical” and when you go there, it looks at the fonts installed on your computer and shows you what any phrase you type looks like in all your fonts. This totally rocks for helping you find the right font for the job! (Yes, there are some tricks you can pull in Photoshop that sound like they do a similar thing, but once you see this site, you’ll wish this feature was in Photoshop. Here’s the link.
  • Reminder: I’m bringing my Lightroom 2 Tour Live! to  Denver, Colorado on Wednesday, May 20th, and then to Portland, Oregon on Friday may 22nd. Here’s the site with all the details. Hope to see you there!
  • Earlier this week I mentioned that we didn’t cover Nikon’s GP-1 GPS device on D-Town TV, because we didn’t have the unit. Luckily, Moose Peterson (who recently came on as a technical adviser to the show), did a great review for us of the GP-1, and it’s up now on the D-Town TV site (here’s the link).
  • By the way: this week’s episode of D-Town TV should be posted sometime today, over at the D-Town site as well. Let the hateful comments begin!
  • If you’re anywhere near Philadelphia, PA, there’s a gallery show this weekend at the T&P Gallery in Philly. The show is called “Focus” and  features the work of a number of local photographers. Here’s the link for more details—check it out if you get a chance.

That’s all I’ve got today. We’ll see ya here tomorrow for the weekly wrap-up. :)


PhotoWalk To Host Free PhotoWalk In Boston, The Day Before Photoshop World

by Scott Kelby  |  4 Comments

pswlkbos1Jeff Revell of has just announced that he’s hosting a free photowalk in Boston on Tuesday, March 24th, the day before Photoshop World kicks off. The walk is open to anyone (not just conference attendees), and is totally free and you should totally sign up for it (it’s limited to just the first 50 people, so head over there and sign up now).

Jeff has all the details on this site over at


It’s “Guest Blog Wednesday” featuring Tim Mantoani!

by Brad Moore  |  89 Comments


A few weeks back Brad Moore, Photo Studio Manager at Kelby Media Group dropped me a line inviting me to be the Guest Blogger. I first met Brad while he was working with Joe McNally in New York. Brad came with Joe to the 20×24 Polaroid Studio, while I photographed Joe for my Behind Photographs Project. So, thanks Brad and Scott for giving me the stage for the day.

Photography is part of my soul, it is not my job. Simply put, I love it. Richard Avedon said it best, “If a day goes by without me doing something related to photography, it’s thought I’ve neglected something essential to my existence, as though I had forgotten to wake up.” So today I will share some images and some thoughts that help put a smile on my face and make me feel complete.

Ian Summers is a great business coach in our industry. He loves the quote, “Be who you is, cuz if you ain’t who you is, then you is who you ain’t.” As a photographer it is easy to try to imitate another shooter’s work and to try to be all things to all people. I am based in a smaller photo market in San Diego and often have to shoot a variety of styles to satisfy my clients. However, when it comes down to the work, I always try to give them what they want, then shoot something they way I see it. At least at the end of the shoot, you have something Continue reading


Tomorrow’s Guest Blogger is…..

by Scott Kelby  |  6 Comments

…San Diego, California based commercial photographer Tim Mantoani.

Brad was the one who first introduced me to Tim’s work, in particular to a very cool project Tim has been doing, where he used 20×24 Polaroids to capture famous photographers posed with a print of one of their favorite shots.

You can see his photographer portraits over at Tim’s portfolio (here’s the link), but while you’re there, make sure you check out some of Tim’s Sports and Commercial photography portfolios—he’s got some really amazing work (and of course, be back here tomorrow to check out his guest blog post).

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