Photoshop Tools and Audio Controls

There is an amazing parallel between the sciences of audio and photography; one that I learned about in the ’80 from personal experience. I operated a hybrid photo/litho lab in Nashville from 1973-1986. This allowed me to enjoy both the creative and the production sides of the communications industry

.studer a800 Harrison_Console

I had contracts with Studer/Revox and Harrison Systems, the audio industry’s top tape machines and recording consoles designing and producing their print advertising materials. What I learned about audio processing during this period definitely improved my understanding of image processing.

bass-treble  Multiband-EQ-Enabled

Shaping sound is very similar to shaping images. Think of bass as shadows and treble as highlights. simple example of a parametric EQ is a treble/bass knob. Crude overall shifting of tones.The internal contrast of each range clarifies detail and provides punch in both sound and sight. The distribution and emphasis of the middle tones in both sound and pictures is critical. Muddy sound is just as obvious as muddy pictures.

This is the same basic principle that is used in the audio industry to “crossover” the bass end of the audio spectrum to a subwoofer while maintaining the full-body middle tones and crisp high-end of the audio spectrum from regular speakers.

Curves Tool  Levels control

The difference between the Curves tool and the Levels tool closely reflects the functional differences between multi-band graphic equalizers and parametric equalizers, and the beloved Histogram is a simplified Spectrum Analyzer.

There is a good reason why the word “color” is used to describe sound shaping in the audio industry as much as in the photo industry. I learned so much about photographic color and tonal shaping from from working inside sound studios. (I also now own a killer personal sound system.) I may share some of this insider info in another post series.

Total dependence on the general contrast controls of the Levels command and audio’s treble/base knob rarely suffices to produce real clarity. Next time you really listen to music, think about these parallels. I think you’ll see the issue more clearly.

If you really want to understand what makes color work, you need to understand how light behaves. And here’s where I can help you. I’ve created a very entertaining and easy-to-understand video series that will teach you these fundamentals and get you on track to capture and produce amazing color.  http://gottaknowvideos.com

About Herb Paynter

I'm an author, photographer, and video producer living in Fort Pierce, Fl. I've been in the color game for more years than I care to admit. In that time I have picked up some insights and experience that I like to share.
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