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Quickly adjust image brightness and/or contrast
Photoshop Versions: 1.0 or earlier
Keyboard Shortcut: Alt+Shift+Ctrl+L

The Brightness/Contrast adjustment allows for simple changes to the brightness or contrast of an image. This command is very basic, appearing in almost every image editor.

Compared to other adjustments, Brightness/Contrast is not as versatile, often giving poor results. Yet it remains one of the quickest adjustments that can be applied, and can give distinct results that are difficult to achieve by other means.

Legacy B/C[]

Prior to CS3, Brightness/Contrast applies a linear transformation to the transfer curve: adjusting brightness alters the polynomial constant, sliding the curve to one side; while adjusting contrast alters the polynomial scalar, expanding or compressing the curve. In later versions, the core behavior was changed to a non-linear transformation, while this linear behavior is retained as Legacy mode. When editing a document created by an earlier version of Photoshop, Legacy mode is the default.

One consequence of using B/C is that extreme color values can be clipped to black or white. Levels and Curves have histograms and other design considerations that help limit clipping.

Modern B/C[]

In version CS3 or earlier, Brightness/Contrast uses a non-linear transformation that prevents clipping.