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Applying a Shadows/Highlights adjustment

From: Photoshop Elements 8 for Mac Essential Training

Video: Applying a Shadows/Highlights adjustment

It's common to make photographs that have areas that need two different kinds of corrections. For example, if you shoot on a bright day and there is a lot of sky in the scene, you are likely get a result like this, with a foreground that is too dark and a sky that's slightly too light. Fortunately, Elements has the perfect feature to fix this kind of problem, and that is the Shadows/Highlights Adjustment. Before I apply a Shadows/Highlights Adjustment, I am going to make a copy of the photo layer, and that's because this is one of the few adjustments that I can't apply as an Adjustment layer. I have to apply it directly on the photo.

Applying a Shadows/Highlights adjustment

It's common to make photographs that have areas that need two different kinds of corrections. For example, if you shoot on a bright day and there is a lot of sky in the scene, you are likely get a result like this, with a foreground that is too dark and a sky that's slightly too light. Fortunately, Elements has the perfect feature to fix this kind of problem, and that is the Shadows/Highlights Adjustment. Before I apply a Shadows/Highlights Adjustment, I am going to make a copy of the photo layer, and that's because this is one of the few adjustments that I can't apply as an Adjustment layer. I have to apply it directly on the photo.

So I am going to go to the layers panel, where there is a single Background layer that contains the photo, and I am going to hold down the Ctrl key and click on that layer, or if I have a two button mouse, right-click on that layer and choose Duplicate layer from the contextual menu. I will click OK, and that makes a copy of the Background layer. I will make sure that Background Copy layer is selected and this will be the one that gets the Shadows/Highlights treatment, and I will be preserving my original image here on the Background layer. Now I will go to the Enhance menu at the top of the screen and I will go down to Adjust Lighting, and I will come over to Shadows/Highlights.

That opens the Shadows/Highlights dialog box, which I am going to bring up here, so you can see it better. There are three sliders here. By default, the Lighten Shadows slider sits at 25%, and what this is doing is lightening the darkest areas of the photo, the areas down here. If I uncheck Preview, you can see how the image looks without the shadows lightened. This is the original image, and this is the image with Lighten Shadows set to 25%.

If I want to I can lighten the shadows even more by dragging the Lighten Shadows slider to the right. When I did that, the dark areas got lighter, but there was very little impact on the highlights in the image, the sky, or the midtones, and that's the beauty of using the Shadows/Highlights Adjustment is that I can affect the lighting of the shadows, the highlights, and even the midtone separately. Now, the next thing I would like to do is to darken the highlights, make the sky a little darker, so that the clouds there are more dramatic.

To do that I will click on the Darken Highlights slider and I will drag to the right, and this is just a matter of taste. I might put this as far as maybe there. Finally, I can adjust the contrast in the midtones, by dragging the Midtone Contrast slider to the right, and this affects primarily the midtones in this area, the grass. Now I will compare this result with the original by going to the Preview checkbox and unchecking. So there is the original. As you can see your eye is drawn to the bright sky, which isn't really the subject of this photo.

But with the changes that I have made here, my eye is drawn more to the bicycle and the yellow flowers in the grass, which are set off nicely against the darkened, more dramatic sky. And because I like this result, I will click OK. The Shadows/Highlights Adjustment is a great tool to use on images like this that are backlit, but those aren't the only kinds of images that this control will help. It's also very useful if you have an image that you have taken with a flash on your camera, and the foreground is too bright but the background is too dark.

It also does a nice job on lots of images in between. So if you do have lighting problems, you might try the Shadows/Highlights Adjustment and see if they will improve your situation.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Photoshop Elements 8 for Mac Essential Training
Photoshop Elements 8 for Mac Essential Training

81 video lessons · 7169 viewers

Jan Kabili
Author

 
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  1. 2m 35s
    1. Welcome
      1m 18s
    2. Using the exercise files
      1m 17s
  2. 13m 0s
    1. Touring Elements
      7m 24s
    2. Starting from the Welcome screen
      5m 36s
  3. 16m 11s
    1. Importing photos from a camera
      8m 48s
    2. Dividing scanned photos
      3m 52s
    3. Capturing frames from video
      3m 31s
  4. 23m 13s
    1. Touring Bridge CS4
      7m 44s
    2. Opening files from Bridge into Elements
      5m 1s
    3. Rotating photos
      1m 17s
    4. Moving, deleting, and hiding photos
      4m 11s
    5. Renaming photos
      5m 0s
  5. 29m 16s
    1. Tagging photos with keywords
      6m 28s
    2. Rating and labeling photos
      5m 55s
    3. Sorting photos by filter
      6m 23s
    4. Finding photos
      4m 33s
    5. Organizing photos in Collections
      5m 57s
  6. 52m 52s
    1. Touring the Quick Fix workspace in the Editor
      8m 34s
    2. Applying Quick Fix lighting controls
      3m 33s
    3. Applying Quick Fix color controls
      6m 30s
    4. Applying Quick Fix sharpening
      3m 44s
    5. Using Quick Fix touchup tools
      7m 43s
    6. Fixing group shots in Guided Edit
      6m 25s
    7. Merging multiple exposures in Guided Edit
      7m 24s
    8. Applying the Scene Cleaner in Guided Edit
      6m 31s
    9. Running Automated Actions in Guided Edit
      2m 28s
  7. 30m 57s
    1. Touring the Full Edit workspace
      6m 5s
    2. Working with tabbed documents
      4m 28s
    3. Arranging panels
      4m 14s
    4. Using tools
      8m 15s
    5. Setting editing preferences
      3m 8s
    6. Adjusting color settings
      4m 47s
  8. 46m 0s
    1. Using Undo History
      6m 6s
    2. Zooming and navigating
      5m 38s
    3. Creating a blank file
      5m 43s
    4. Photo resizing and resolution
      8m 21s
    5. Enlarging the canvas
      3m 10s
    6. Cropping and straightening an image
      3m 12s
    7. Using the Recompose tool
      3m 23s
    8. Processing multiple files
      6m 16s
    9. Saving and formats
      4m 11s
  9. 23m 25s
    1. Understanding layers
      3m 30s
    2. Working in the Layers panel
      8m 53s
    3. Combining images with layer masks
      11m 2s
  10. 22m 24s
    1. Understanding selections
      3m 39s
    2. Manual selection tools
      7m 36s
    3. Automatic selection tools
      3m 9s
    4. Refining a selection
      3m 59s
    5. Modifying and saving selections
      4m 1s
  11. 55m 51s
    1. Using adjustment layers
      9m 21s
    2. Adding a Levels adjustment layer
      4m 49s
    3. Applying a Shadows/Highlights adjustment
      3m 24s
    4. Adding a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer
      5m 30s
    5. Adjusting with Color Curves
      4m 3s
    6. Removing a color cast
      3m 55s
    7. Correcting skin tone
      2m 10s
    8. Reducing digital noise
      3m 44s
    9. Sharpening photos
      9m 42s
    10. Working with raw photos
      9m 13s
  12. 18m 58s
    1. Using the Smart Brush tool
      5m 20s
    2. Using the Detail Smart Brush tool
      3m 30s
    3. Dodging and burning
      1m 49s
    4. Healing blemishes
      3m 51s
    5. Removing content with the Clone Stamp tool
      3m 15s
    6. Removing red-eye
      1m 13s
  13. 26m 26s
    1. Applying filters
      5m 6s
    2. Adding effects
      3m 0s
    3. Using layer styles
      3m 36s
    4. Using shapes
      8m 25s
    5. Using the Cookie Cutter tool
      2m 54s
    6. Converting color to black and white
      3m 25s
  14. 7m 35s
    1. Creating text
      4m 7s
    2. Editing text
      3m 28s
  15. 27m 26s
    1. Making a photo collage
      7m 15s
    2. Stitching a photo panorama
      3m 43s
    3. Saving for the web
      6m 40s
    4. Creating web galleries in Bridge
      6m 47s
    5. Creating a PDF slideshow
      3m 1s
  16. 4m 34s
    1. Printing photos and contact sheets
      2m 49s
    2. Sending photos by mail
      1m 45s
  17. 23s
    1. Goodbye
      23s

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