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Precisely targeting an adjustment with a mask

From: Enhancing a Travel Photo with Photoshop and Lightroom

Video: Precisely targeting an adjustment with a mask

Photoshop excels at fine-tuned photo corrections, and that's what we'll be doing to our project photo here in Photoshop throughout this chapter. If you're working along with me, we'll be using the same file with which we finished the last chapter: this TIF version of our photo. You'll recall from the last movie that we got this TIF version by moving the RAW file with our Lightroom adjustments from Lightroom to Photoshop, and then saving it in Photoshop. One reason we're bringing this photo into Photoshop is to take advantage of Photoshop's exclusive features for isolating part of an image: selections, adjustment layers, and masks, so that we can make corrections to different areas of this photo independently.

Precisely targeting an adjustment with a mask

Photoshop excels at fine-tuned photo corrections, and that's what we'll be doing to our project photo here in Photoshop throughout this chapter. If you're working along with me, we'll be using the same file with which we finished the last chapter: this TIF version of our photo. You'll recall from the last movie that we got this TIF version by moving the RAW file with our Lightroom adjustments from Lightroom to Photoshop, and then saving it in Photoshop. One reason we're bringing this photo into Photoshop is to take advantage of Photoshop's exclusive features for isolating part of an image: selections, adjustment layers, and masks, so that we can make corrections to different areas of this photo independently.

For example, what really attracted me to this scene when I was shooting was the glow of these red Italian buildings at dusk. Their colors were really intense in the setting sun, so I'd like to try to get the same look in these reds that I saw in the scene. The first step is to select just the reds in the buildings, and I'm going to use two selections tools together to do that. First, I'll get the Rectangular Marquee tool in Photoshop's toolbar, and I'll use that to isolate just the buildings. Then I'll go up to the Select menu, where I'll choose the Color Range feature, a powerful selection feature for selecting items by color that's often overlooked, because it up in that Select menu.

Here in the Color Range dialog box, I'll make sure that the Select menu is set to Sampled Colors, and that I have the first eyedropper selected over here. I'll leave the other settings as you see them, and then I'll move into the image, and I'll click on what I think is a representative red in these buildings; maybe right here, and that is selected that particular red, along with a range of reds around that color. In order to preview the selection here in the document window, I'm going to go back to the Color Range dialog box, and change the Selection Preview menu to Black Matte.

In the document window, everything that is black is not being selected, including the black inside of the rectangular marquee here. Everything else, the reds in the buildings, is being selected. I'll change the Selection Preview back to None, and if I wanted to add to the selected area, I could do that by sampling other colors with the plus eyedropper, and there is also a minus eyedropper if I select too much. But I'm pretty happy with that selection, so I'm going to click OK to close the Color Range dialog box. So, now we have a selection of the reds in just the buildings. I'm going to convert that selection into a layer mask on an adjustment layer.

To do that, I'll go up to the Adjustments panel, where there are icons for various kinds of adjustments. I would like to saturate the reds in this building, so I'm going to choose the Hue/Saturation adjustment layer. By the way, if your Adjustments panel isn't showing, you can go up to the Window menu, and enable it there. So, I'll click on this Hue/Saturation adjustment layer icon, and that adds a new Hue/Saturation adjustment layer just above my photo layer. One of the things I like about adjustment layers is that they don't directly impact the photo. All of the adjustments are occurring on this separate layer that floats above the photo layer.

That adjustment layer has two icons. The icon on the right represents the layer mask. The icon on the left represents the actual adjustment. When I added this adjustment layer, that opened the Properties panel with the controls for a Hue/Saturation adjustment. I'll use the Saturation control here to increase the saturation of just the selected areas. Now, that's obviously too much, but I wanted you to see that this adjustment is affecting just the most obvious reds in these buildings. So, I'm going to move back a bit, and leave my increased Saturation maybe just around their.

I'm also going to increase the Lightness slider in the Hue/Saturation properties panel by dragging that over to the right to lighten those reds a bit. Now I'm going to close the Properties panel by clicking the X at the top of the panel. I can always bring that panel back and tweak those adjustments by clicking this icon on the left side of the Hue/Saturation adjustment layer, but for now, I want to concentrate on the layer mask icon on that adjustment layer. I am going to hold the Option key, that's the Alt key on the PC, and click right on the Layer mask thumbnail to preview the layer mask here in the document window, because I want to show you what that layer mask is doing to limit the application of this Hue/Saturation adjustment to just the reds in the buildings.

Wherever this layer mask is black, the black is hiding the adjustment, so it doesn't show in our image. Wherever the layer mask is white, the Hue/Saturation adjustment is showing. And where the layer mask is gray, that adjustment is partially showing through, and you can see how precise these areas are, which is the beauty of making adjustments here in Photoshop. I'm going to hold the Option or Alt key again as I click back on the Layer mask thumbnail to bring the photo back into view. Another advantage of using an adjustment layer with its layer mask is that you can add to and subtract from the areas being affected by the adjustment pretty easily.

So, I'm going to zoom in to add this same adjustment to this building over here on the left. I'll hold the Spacebar to move the image over, so you can see that building, and then I'll select the Brush tool in the toolbar, and I'll go down and make sure that I have white paint as my foreground color. In this case, I need to switch my foreground and background colors, so I'll press X on my keyboard, and then I'll move into the image, and I'll paint with white on the layer mask. Because I'm painting with white on the mask, that's letting the adjustment show through wherever I'm painting.

I like the way the adjustment looks on the right side of the building, but I think it's making the left side of the building rather dull. No problem; it's easy to paint back with black on the layer mask to hide this adjustment from this part of the image. So, I'll switch my colors by pressing X on the keyboard, so black is the color I'm painting with, and I'll paint with black on the layer mask, hiding the adjustment where I don't want it on this building. Sometimes the best way to see what you've accomplished is to see a before and after view.

So, while we're zoomed in like this, I'll click the eye icon on the Hue/Saturation adjustment layer, so you can see where we started, and how we've added punch and glow to the reds in these buildings with this Hue/Saturation adjustment. I'm going to zoom back out to the fit on screen view by double clicking the hand tool. So, that's how precise you can get with adjustments in Photoshop. In the next movie, we'll work on bringing out the color and tones in another part of this image, the sky, using multiple adjustment layers, including the most powerful of Photoshop's adjustments: curves.

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Enhancing a Travel Photo with Photoshop and Lightroom

12 video lessons · 5855 viewers

Jan Kabili
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