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Adjusting with Shadow/Highlight

From: Photoshop CS4 Essential Training

Video: Adjusting with Shadow/Highlight

The Shadow/Highlight adjustment should be at the top of your list of techniques to try, whenever you're dealing with a photo that needs tonal or lighting adjustments. Shadow/Highlight adjusts the dark and light areas of an image separately, which makes it great for correcting backlit photos like this one. It also does a really good job on over- flashed photos, which is the opposite problem to what you see here, where the main subject is too bright and the background is too dark. And it works on just lots of photos that have both dark and light areas. One thing about Shadow/Highlight adjustment is it is a direct adjustment.

Adjusting with Shadow/Highlight

The Shadow/Highlight adjustment should be at the top of your list of techniques to try, whenever you're dealing with a photo that needs tonal or lighting adjustments. Shadow/Highlight adjusts the dark and light areas of an image separately, which makes it great for correcting backlit photos like this one. It also does a really good job on over- flashed photos, which is the opposite problem to what you see here, where the main subject is too bright and the background is too dark. And it works on just lots of photos that have both dark and light areas. One thing about Shadow/Highlight adjustment is it is a direct adjustment.

There is no Shadow/Highlight adjustment layer available. And so the problem is that if you apply it directly to the photo layer, it will permanently change the pixels of the photo and we don't like to do that when we are practicing nondestructive editing. So here's the solution. Treat the Shadow/Highlight adjustment like a filter. Let me show you what I mean. I am going to go to the Layers panel and make sure that my lion layer is selected and then I'm going up to the Filter menu at the top of the screen and I am going to choose Convert for Smart Filters.

That's going to make the lion layer into a Smart Object. I will say OK at this message, and you can see the Smart Object icon on the lion layer. Now, I'm going to go and apply my Shadow /Highlight adjustment by going to Image > Adjustments and down to Shadow/Highlights. This is the default behavior of the Shadow/Highlights adjustment. First thing I do here is take the Amount slider for Shadows, and drag it to the left, because this is how the image is originally.

And then I click Show More Options. Let's find out what's here. You will notice that the Shadows controls are located in one section and the Highlights controls in another. Because this adjustment treats shadows and highlights separately, I will start with the Shadows area and I'm going to increase the amount of this adjustment and as I do, right away you can see the lion is looking better. By increasing this slider, I am just increasing the strength of the adjustment to the Shadows portion of my image.

The Tonal Width slider here controls what is considered a shadow for purposes of this adjustment. If I drag it to the left, fewer areas are considered shadows that need to be adjusted, and if I drag it to the right, more areas are adjusted as shadows. Then there is the Radius slider. The way that Shadow/Highlights works is that it looks at neighboring pixels to figure out whether it's working in a dark area or a light area. The Radius slider determines the range of neighboring pixels that the adjustment will look at when it's making that determination.

You basically just have to eyeball this slider. You don't want to drag it too far to the left, where everything will look flat, or too far to the right where not enough pixels get adjusted. So just somewhere in between where it looks good to you. The Highlights area has the same three sliders. So I will drag the Amount slider over to the right to darken the highlights in the image. And you can see the sky is getting more dramatic and dark. The Tonal Width slider determines the range of tones that will be affected by this particular adjustment.

I think I'll drag that over to the left a little, because I only want the sky pixels to be affected. And then we have the Radius slider. Do you see that there is kind of a halo or a glow around the lion? I can usually fix that by dragging the Radius slider. I am going to try to increase Radius to just smooth out that glow a little bit. When you apply a Shadow/Highlight adjustment, you usually also have to pump up the saturation of the colors a bit. You can do that using this Color Correction slider.

I will drag that to the right to increase the saturation of the image just a bit. The Midtone Contrast slider affects the contrast or the difference between dark and light in the midtone grays, like this area here. If I drag that to the right, I get a little more contrast in that area and the photo looks better. If I had a lot of photos that I shot the same way, I could save all of this as a default and apply it every time. But I am just going to click OK here and now I have my Shadow/Highlight adjustment.

But the really interesting part is that that adjustment is re-editable because I treated it like a Smart Filter. So if you look in the Layers panel down here, you can see that I have a Shadow/Highlights adjustment layer here, and I can turn that on and off temporarily by clicking the Eye icon. There is it off, as the image was before the adjustment, and on, as it is with the adjustment. There is also a layer mask that comes in automatically with any Smart Filter, and I could use that layer mask to limit the areas to which this adjustment applies, just like I use an adjustment layer mask, by painting on this mask or perhaps adding a gradient to it.

Don't hesitate to give the Shadow/ Highlight adjustment a try whenever you have an image with some areas that are light and others that are dark, which means almost any image really, and it's a must for backlit and over-flashed photos.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Photoshop CS4 Essential Training
Photoshop CS4 Essential Training

103 video lessons · 67244 viewers

Jan Kabili
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 2m 31s
    1. Welcome
      1m 27s
    2. Using the example files
      1m 4s
  2. 25m 14s
    1. Touring the interface
      4m 25s
    2. Working with tabbed documents
      5m 15s
    3. Using tools efficiently
      3m 51s
    4. Arranging panels
      3m 53s
    5. Customizing keyboard shortcuts
      2m 50s
    6. Saving a custom workspace
      3m 0s
    7. Changing screen modes
      2m 0s
  3. 19m 3s
    1. Touring the Bridge interface
      6m 31s
    2. Opening images from Bridge
      1m 20s
    3. Reviewing images
      4m 42s
    4. Finding images
      6m 30s
  4. 44m 53s
    1. Setting preferences
      4m 23s
    2. Choosing color settings
      8m 11s
    3. Zooming and panning
      5m 27s
    4. Resizing and image resolution
      3m 17s
    5. Adding to the canvas
      2m 2s
    6. Rotating the canvas
      1m 44s
    7. Choosing color
      4m 49s
    8. Sizing a brush tip
      3m 4s
    9. Undoing and the History panel
      5m 0s
    10. Saving and file formats
      3m 29s
    11. Creating a file from scratch
      3m 27s
  5. 37m 58s
    1. Making geometric selections
      6m 14s
    2. Modifying selections
      4m 43s
    3. Combining selections
      3m 16s
    4. Using the Quick Selection tool
      5m 34s
    5. Refining selection edges
      4m 12s
    6. Using Quick Mask mode
      2m 18s
    7. Selecting with the improved Color Range command
      4m 32s
    8. Selecting with the Magnetic Lasso tool
      2m 28s
    9. Using the Background Eraser tool
      3m 7s
    10. Saving selections
      1m 34s
  6. 39m 56s
    1. Understanding layers
      5m 43s
    2. Creating layers
      5m 12s
    3. Working in the Layers panel
      2m 19s
    4. Locking layers
      4m 17s
    5. Working with multiple layers
      4m 6s
    6. Merging and flattening layers
      3m 55s
    7. Adding a shape layer
      4m 43s
    8. Basic layer masking
      4m 23s
    9. Using layer blend modes and opacity
      5m 18s
  7. 23m 19s
    1. Cropping
      3m 26s
    2. Straightening
      3m 17s
    3. Transforming
      4m 42s
    4. Working with Smart Objects
      6m 48s
    5. Using Content-Aware Scaling
      5m 6s
  8. 1h 10m
    1. Reading histograms
      4m 21s
    2. Using adjustment layers and the Adjustment panel
      6m 4s
    3. Adjusting tones with Levels
      7m 49s
    4. Limiting adjustments with layer masks
      5m 40s
    5. Using masks in the new Masks panel
      6m 9s
    6. Limiting adjustments by clipping
      3m 6s
    7. Adjusting with Shadow/Highlight
      5m 7s
    8. Adjusting with Curves
      7m 37s
    9. Adjusting with Hue/Saturation
      3m 42s
    10. Adjusting with Vibrance
      2m 16s
    11. Removing a color cast
      4m 26s
    12. Using the Black & White adjustment layer
      2m 39s
    13. Using the Dodge Burn and Sponge tools
      4m 11s
    14. Reducing noise
      2m 39s
    15. Sharpening
      4m 42s
  9. 38m 0s
    1. Using the Spot Healing Brush tool
      5m 17s
    2. Using the Healing Brush tool
      5m 51s
    3. Using the Patch tool
      4m 52s
    4. Using the Clone Stamp tool
      4m 8s
    5. Enhancing eyes
      9m 29s
    6. Changing facial structure
      5m 0s
    7. Softening skin
      3m 23s
  10. 44m 38s
    1. What's a raw image?
      4m 25s
    2. Touring the Camera Raw interface
      7m 35s
    3. Working in the Basic panel
      7m 54s
    4. Working in the Tone Curve panel
      2m 21s
    5. Working in the HSL/Grayscale and Split Toning panels
      3m 46s
    6. Looking at the other Camera Raw panels
      3m 45s
    7. Using the Adjustment Brush tool
      4m 2s
    8. Using the Graduated Filter tool
      3m 56s
    9. Working with multiple files
      6m 54s
  11. 21m 6s
    1. Using the Brushes panel
      8m 30s
    2. Filling with color
      3m 49s
    3. Replacing color
      4m 14s
    4. Using gradients
      4m 33s
  12. 16m 55s
    1. Working with point type
      9m 59s
    2. Working with paragraph type
      3m 17s
    3. Warping text
      3m 39s
  13. 25m 23s
    1. Adding a layer style
      4m 6s
    2. Customizing a layer style
      3m 35s
    3. Copying a layer style
      3m 5s
    4. Creating a new style
      3m 32s
    5. Using Smart Filters
      5m 22s
    6. Working in the Filter Gallery
      5m 43s
  14. 13m 14s
    1. Auto-blending focus
      4m 47s
    2. Creating Photomerge panoramas
      4m 2s
    3. Combining group photos
      4m 25s
  15. 23m 27s
    1. Creating an action
      7m 16s
    2. Batch processing with an action
      6m 36s
    3. Using the Image Processor
      9m 35s
  16. 29m 20s
    1. Printing
      11m 32s
    2. Making a contact sheet from Bridge
      6m 12s
    3. Creating a web gallery from Bridge
      7m 17s
    4. Preparing photos for the web
      4m 19s
  17. 30s
    1. Goodbye
      30s

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