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When I want to apply an adjustment that affects only a specific area of a photo, one of the first things I contemplate is whether or not I can use a selection as the basis of that targeted adjustment. If that's an option, it's usually the quickest and easiest way to apply a targeted adjustment. For example, in this case, I'd like to darken this back area of the image, so that it fits in a little bit better in terms of overall tonality, and I think that I can create a selection for that area. So, I'll start off by creating a selection. I'll chose the quick selection tool in this case.
And then just click and drag to paint inside of that central area. And it looks like I have a good selection. So with that selection active, I'm now going to create an adjustment layer, so that I can apply a targeted adjustment. I'll go to the bottom of the Layers panel and click on the Add Adjustment Layer button. And from the popup menu that appears, I'll choose the specific adjustment that I'd like to apply. In this case, I think just a simple levels adjustment in order to darken that area up a little bit. And because I had a selection active when I created this adjustment layer, the layer mask that comes with that adjustment layer automatically reflects the shape of the selection.
In other words the area that selected is white on the layer mask and the area that was not selected is black on the layer mask. As a result, this adjustment layer will now only affect the area that had been selected. So I'll go ahead and make an adjustment here, and you can see that I am only affecting that selected area of the image, the area that I had selected before I created my adjustment layer. So by simply creating a selection and then adding an adjustment layer, you have a targeted adjustment based on that selection.
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