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In Photoshop Elements 9 Essential Training, Jan Kabili highlights the key features of this comprehensive image organization and photo enhancement application. She shows how to correct and enhance photographs, and how to organize a growing collection of digital photos. The course also explains how to use photos in creative projects like photo books, calendars, and greeting cards, and how to share work online and in print. Exercise files accompany the course.
An Adjustment layer comes with its own layer mask, which you can use to target or limit the areas of a photo to which an adjustment applies. This is yet another advantage of using an Adjustment layer over a direct adjustment to correct a photo. I'd like to brighten the waterfall in this photo. So I am going to add a Brightness/Contrast Adjustment layer. I'll go to the Adjustment layer icon here at the bottom of the layers panel and from its menu, I'll choose Brightness/Contrast, that brings up these Brightness/Contrast controls in the Adjustments panel, and it adds this Brightness/Contrast Adjustment layer here in the layers panel.
The white thumbnail on this Adjustment layer represents a layer mask. A layer mask on an Adjustment layer is just like a layer mask on a regular pixel-based layer, which I covered earlier in this course. Where this mask is white, as it currently is, it will reveal the adjustment everywhere on the image. But if I add black paint to the mask, that will hide the adjustment on the corresponding parts of the photo. And if I apply gray paint to this mask that will partially hide the adjustment on those parts of the photo.
So I am going to make an adjustment by going down to the Adjustments panel, clicking on the Brightness slider and dragging to the right. I like the brightening effect on the water, but I think that it's too bright over here on this rock and over here on this rock where brightening the image has completely blown out the highlights. And I think that this area of the water is too bright as well. So I'd like to hide the brightness adjustment from those areas. To do that, I will go to the toolbar and I'll click on the Brush tool and I want my foreground color; the color with which I am painting to be black, because this is a mask, I can only paint with black, white or gray on the mask.
I'll click this little tiny icon right here to set the background color to black and the foreground color to white, and then I'll click the double pointed arrows to switch those colors. So black is the foreground color. The shortcut for doing that would be to press D and then X on the keyboard. Now with black as my foreground color, I'll move into the image, and I am going to size my brush so that it just fits over this area. I can use the Right and Left Bracket Keys to increase and decrease the size of the brush respectively.
And I want to have a soft brush so that I am not making a bright line. So I'll hold the Shift Key and press the Left Bracket Key to soften the brush tip. And then I am going to paint right over this area of the rock, and I am not painting on the image, I am painting with black on the layer mask, and that's hiding the brightness effect from just this area. I'll move over to this rock, and I'll paint right here, and as I paint, I am both darkening the rock and bringing back some of the detail.
I'll make by brush tip a bit bigger for this rock, by pressing the Right bracket key. Now because I am painting on a mask, if I go too far like this, I can always switch to white, and paint back over this area to bring the adjustment back to this part where I just hit the adjustment. So I'll press X on my keyboard and that sets the foreground color to white, and then I'll paint the adjustment back in here in the water. Now here in the front part of the water, I don't want to completely hide the adjustment, I want to partially hide it.
So I am going to get black as my foreground color again by pressing the X key on the keyboard, and then I am going to go up to the options bar and I am going to lower the Opacity of my brush. I'll put it down somewhere around 50%, and then I'll move into the image, and with my big soft brush tip, I am going to paint over this area partially hiding the adjustment from there. Now I'd like to compare how the image looked before I painted on the layer mask with the way that it looks now. So I am going to hold down the Shift Key on my keyboard, and click right on the layer mask thumbnail on the Brightness/Contrast Adjustment layer.
That puts a big X over that thumbnail, which means that it's hiding the paint that I added to the thumbnail. So this is how the image looked with the Brightness/Contrast Adjustment, before I added black and gray to the layer mask. I'll Shift+Click again on the layer mask, and this is how it looks with those additions. I like the fact that I have now hidden these hotspots, and I am getting more detail there, but at the same time I am retaining the brightness effect here in the water. Now you can have more than one adjustment layer on an image.
So I would like to add another adjustment layer to try to fix the fact that the water here is a little bit blue for my taste, because I photographed it while it was in shadow. I am going to use a Photo Filter Adjustment layer for this purpose. A Photo Filter Adjustment layer acts somewhat like the filter on a camera. It will add a colored tint to the image. In this case, I want to add a gold tint. So I'll go over to the bottom of the layers panel, I'll click on the Adjustment layer icon and I'll choose Photo Filter. I'll increase the density of this filter little bit to make it more intense on the image, and you could see that the entire image now has a more gold cast.
I like the way that looks on the water, but I don't really like the way that it looks on these rocks, I think it's emphasizing them too much. So I would like to hide the Photo Filter Adjustment layer from those rocks. I'd also like to partially hide the Photo Filter Adjustment from this area down here, so it's not so gold. Well, I have already created a layer mask that will do just that, and that's the layer mask as I painted it here on the Brightness/Contrast Adjustment layer. I'd like to use the very same layer mask on the Photo Filter Adjustment layer.
There is no direct way to copy a mask from one layer to another in Elements, but I'll show you a workaround that will get me the same result. I'll select the Brightness/Contrast Adjustment layer, and then I am going to hold down the Ctrl key on a PC or the Command key on a Mac, and I am going to click right on the thumbnail for the layer mask on the Brightness/Contrast Adjustment layer. A mask is just another way of representing a selection, and so when I do that, I automatically select the white area of the layer mask, as you can see here in the image.
Now, I am going to invert the selection, so that everything except the white areas has a selection around it. I'll go up to the Select menu and I'll choose Inverse, and now I am going to use this election to fill in the layer mask on the Photo Filter Adjustment layer. I'll select the Photo Filter Adjustment layer and then I'll go up to the Edit menu and I am going to choose Fill Selection. I'll make sure the Use menu is set to Black and I'll click OK, and then I'll delete the selection by pressing Ctrl+D on my PC or Command+D on a Mac.
Now let's take a look at the layer mask that's on the Photo Filter Adjustment layer. I'll press the Alt key on the PC or the Option key on the Mac,as I click on that layer mask thumbnail, and you can see that it's the very same layer mask that I'd created on the Brightness /Contrast Adjustment layer. The areas over the rocks are filled with black, which are hiding the Photo Filter Adjustment from the rocks, and the area in the water at the bottom-left is filled with gray, partially hiding the Photo Filter Adjustment from that area.
I'll Alt+Click or Option+Click again on the layer mask thumbnail on the Photo Filter Adjustment layer. So as you can see the layer masks that come with Adjustment layers are real advantage. They allow you to decide where and to what degree your photo adjustments will apply.
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