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Adjusting shadows and highlights

From: Photoshop CS6 Essential Training

Video: Adjusting shadows and highlights

Another powerful adjustment in Photoshop is the Shadow/Highlight adjustment, but if we look at our Adjustments panel, we won't see an icon for it. In fact, the Shadow/Highlights only appears under Image>Adjustments. However, if I apply it right now, that's going to be a destructive adjustment. So before I choose Shadow/Highlights, I want to go into the Layer menu and convert this into a Smart Object. That way we can add the Adjustment, and if we don't like it later or if we want to fine-tune it, we can because it's only been applied non-destructively to the Smart Object.

Adjusting shadows and highlights

Another powerful adjustment in Photoshop is the Shadow/Highlight adjustment, but if we look at our Adjustments panel, we won't see an icon for it. In fact, the Shadow/Highlights only appears under Image>Adjustments. However, if I apply it right now, that's going to be a destructive adjustment. So before I choose Shadow/Highlights, I want to go into the Layer menu and convert this into a Smart Object. That way we can add the Adjustment, and if we don't like it later or if we want to fine-tune it, we can because it's only been applied non-destructively to the Smart Object.

So now we will choose Image>Adjustments>Shadow/Highlights. There is a basic mode and an advanced mode. In the Basic mode you get two sliders, one for Shadow and one for Highlights. Let's go ahead and show more options so we have a little bit more control. There are no magic numbers that you can put in here. You really need to use the sliders to make your image visually look correct. And what you want to look out for here is you don't want to bring your shadows up so far and your highlights down so far that the midtones of your image start to look flat.

So, what is the Amount slider? The Amount slider is like the volume slider. When you move the Amount slider over to the right, you can see that the shadows are getting lighter and lighter. So obviously, I don't want to go that far, we will take it back to maybe around 30. The Tonal Width determines what is a shadow. If I move the Tonal Width way down, you can see that only the very darkest areas of my image are having the Amount applied. When I bring the Tonal Width up, now we are making adjustments into our midtone area.

So again, I will back that off a bit. The Radius slider determines how far out the adjustment goes, because you don't want to make an abrupt stop between the area that you're making the adjustment to and the area that is not been adjusted. So what you want to do when you're moving the Radius slider is you want to look for smooth blending throughout your image. Then we will move to the Highlights. Again, we will use the Amount slider to bring down the highlights. It's how much, or what the difference is between the original highlight value and how we want to see it after we make the adjustment.

The Tonal Width determines what a highlight is. As I move it over to the left, you can see that only the very brightest area of my image is being darkened down. As I move it to the right, the adjustment is affecting the midtones more. So I want to go ahead and back that off as well. Then I will use the Radius slider just to make sure that I am not seeing any sharp transitions. And in this case, I actually like the Radius slider down. Now if we want to see a preview, we can toggle that on and off using the Preview button or we can tap the P key on the keyboard.

And you can see the difference there between the original image, where we really can't see in the shadows and the highlights are too bright, versus the after image where we've dimmed down those highlights and we can see into the shadows. We can also adjust, or make a Color Correction change, after the fact if we think that our images are getting too saturated or not saturated enough. We can also add a little bit of contrast back into the midtones if we think it needs it. This is kind of like using an S-curve in your Curves dialog box but it's in a slider instead.

So obviously, that's going too far. If we go to the left, our image is going to look too flat. So we just need to find a nice balance there where we like the visual effect that all of these settings are having on our image. If we want to we could save these as our defaults if we constantly come into Shadow/Highlights and make these same changes. But for now, I'll click OK. And if we look down in our Layers panel, you can see that because I have added this adjustment to a smart object, Photoshop considers this to be a Smart Filter.

Now we haven't talked about filters yet, and honestly this isn't a true filter. All of the other filters in Photoshop are found underneath the Filter menu. But the only way to make this Shadow/ Highlight adjustment non-destructive is by using it on a smart object. And by doing so, Photoshop automatically creates the smart filter. If I want to toggle on and off and see the before and after, we can do that. If I want to make changes, I could double- click where it says Shadow/Highlights. That brings up the Shadow/Highlights dialog so that we could refine our adjustment.

And as we can see, we have an added bonus. Whenever you add a Smart Filter, the smart filter gets its own mask. So this mask works just like any of the other masks in Photoshop. Wherever it's white, we can see the effect. In this case, we are applying the Shadow/Highlight effect. If we were to paint in here, we would be hiding the Shadow/Highlight adjustment layer. So it's a little different from adding a mask to our layer which would hide and show the contents of the layer. Instead, the mask, because it's associated with a Smart Filter, only hides and shows the Smart Filter.

Let me quickly tap the G key to get the Gradient. I will tap the D key to set our default colors to white to black. I will use the Linear Gradient and then just to show you, I can click-and-drag down in the image, and now we can see that the Shadow Highlight adjustment layer is only being displayed at the top portion of the image. So only the area where the mask is white up here is being affected. In order to see the effect over the entire image again, I will simply choose Edit, and then Fill.

We can fill our mask with white, and now my non-destructive Shadow/Highlight adjustment is visible throughout my image and is completely modifiable at any time because it is that Smart Object.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Photoshop CS6 Essential Training
Photoshop CS6 Essential Training

148 video lessons · 91097 viewers

Julieanne Kost
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 1m 42s
    1. What is Photoshop?
      1m 42s
  2. 1m 11s
    1. Welcome
      1m 11s
  3. 32m 15s
    1. What is Adobe Bridge?
      2m 49s
    2. Getting photos from a camera
      4m 27s
    3. A tour of workspaces in Bridge
      5m 32s
    4. Customizing how thumbnails are displayed
      3m 44s
    5. Changing file names and batch renaming
      2m 58s
    6. Adding basic metadata with metadata templates
      5m 10s
    7. Creating and applying keywords to images
      4m 58s
    8. Viewing images in Full Screen Preview mode
      2m 37s
  4. 27m 1s
    1. Using Review mode to filter out rejected images
      4m 18s
    2. Saving images in collections
      4m 23s
    3. Rating and labeling images
      3m 46s
    4. Using the Filter panel to view different subsets
      4m 16s
    5. Using smart collections
      4m 18s
    6. Viewing final selects in a slideshow
      2m 21s
    7. Organizing groups of images into stacks
      3m 39s
  5. 32m 8s
    1. Comparing RAW and JPEG files
      6m 10s
    2. Starting in Camera Raw instead of Photoshop
      3m 12s
    3. Touring the Camera Raw interface
      9m 13s
    4. Previewing before and after adjustments
      3m 58s
    5. Toggling onscreen shadow and highlight clipping warnings
      3m 11s
    6. Choosing output settings
      3m 36s
    7. Saving a copy without going to Photoshop
      2m 48s
  6. 38m 37s
    1. Using the nondestructive Crop tool
      4m 42s
    2. Correcting a horizon line with the Straighten tool
      2m 41s
    3. Fixing color casts with the White Balance tool
      3m 50s
    4. Fixing blown-out highlights
      2m 56s
    5. Revealing hidden shadow details
      3m 7s
    6. Correcting lens distortion
      3m 25s
    7. Making perspective corrections to images
      2m 40s
    8. Removing color fringing and chromatic aberrations
      2m 28s
    9. Sharpening the details
      7m 45s
    10. Making an average photo great
      5m 3s
  7. 51m 2s
    1. Using the Graduated Filter tool
      6m 57s
    2. Making local adjustments with the Adjustments Brush
      10m 19s
    3. Retouching blemishes with the Spot Removal tool
      3m 41s
    4. Exploring a quick portrait retouching technique using Clarity
      4m 31s
    5. Converting to black and white
      2m 36s
    6. Editing images directly with the Targeted Adjustment tool
      3m 21s
    7. Creating selective color effects with the Adjustment Brush
      6m 5s
    8. Using sepia and split-tone effects
      3m 33s
    9. Adding digital film grain texture effects
      2m 20s
    10. Adding vignettes and border effects
      3m 59s
    11. Saving variations within a single file with the Snapshot command
      3m 40s
  8. 15m 13s
    1. Copying and pasting settings across files
      2m 4s
    2. Processing multiple files in Camera Raw
      3m 22s
    3. Saving and using the library of Camera Raw presets
      6m 48s
    4. Using Image Processor to batch process files
      2m 59s
  9. 30m 24s
    1. Opening files from Bridge
      2m 7s
    2. Opening files from Mini Bridge
      2m 51s
    3. Customizing the Mini Bridge panel
      3m 59s
    4. Using the Application frame
      3m 34s
    5. Managing panels
      5m 14s
    6. Switching and saving workspaces
      4m 39s
    7. Switching tools using the keyboard
      2m 47s
    8. Customizing the keyboard shortcuts
      5m 13s
  10. 10m 25s
    1. Working with tabbed documents
      1m 34s
    2. Arranging documents
      1m 52s
    3. Stopping Photoshop from tabbing documents
      1m 32s
    4. Panning and zooming
      3m 14s
    5. Cycling through different screen modes
      2m 13s
  11. 15m 44s
    1. Understanding file formats
      4m 36s
    2. Choosing the resolution you need
      4m 39s
    3. Understanding Resize vs. Resample
      4m 11s
    4. Working with print sizes and resolution
      2m 18s
  12. 32m 53s
    1. Using Undo and the History panel
      3m 7s
    2. Using crop options
      3m 54s
    3. Understanding Hide vs. Delete for the Crop tool
      1m 46s
    4. Bringing back hidden pixels with Reveal All
      40s
    5. Making the canvas bigger with the Crop tool
      3m 31s
    6. Making the canvas bigger using the Relative option in the Canvas Size command
      2m 18s
    7. Using the Perspective Crop tool
      1m 27s
    8. Straightening a crooked image
      2m 29s
    9. Scaling, skewing, and rotating with Free Transform
      5m 46s
    10. Making nondestructive transformations with Smart Objects
      2m 34s
    11. Warping images
      2m 48s
    12. Preserving important elements with Content-Aware Scale
      2m 33s
  13. 30m 41s
    1. Exploring layer basics
      11m 16s
    2. Loading, selecting, and transforming layers
      8m 4s
    3. Organizing layers using layer groups
      5m 3s
    4. Merging, rasterizing, and flattening layers
      6m 18s
  14. 43m 11s
    1. Using the Marquee and Lasso tools
      5m 43s
    2. Combining selections
      4m 4s
    3. Converting a selection into a layer mask
      5m 29s
    4. Using the Quick Selection tool
      4m 35s
    5. Selecting soft-edged objects using Refine Edge
      9m 42s
    6. Touching up a layer mask with the Brush tool
      7m 22s
    7. Changing the opacity, size, and hardness of the painting tools
      3m 17s
    8. Blending images with a gradient layer mask
      2m 59s
  15. 34m 36s
    1. Introducing adjustment layers
      3m 47s
    2. Starting with a preset
      2m 18s
    3. Improving tonal quality with Levels
      5m 31s
    4. Increasing midtone contrast with Curves
      6m 44s
    5. Removing a color cast with Auto Color
      2m 30s
    6. Changing the color temperature with Photo Filter
      2m 29s
    7. Shifting colors with Hue/Saturation
      4m 41s
    8. Making washed-out colors pop with Vibrance
      2m 48s
    9. Converting color to black and white
      1m 47s
    10. Controlling which layers are affected by an adjustment layer
      2m 1s
  16. 19m 33s
    1. Adjusting shadows and highlights
      5m 44s
    2. Replacing color using Selective Color
      3m 49s
    3. Using fill layers to create a hand-painted look
      6m 5s
    4. Using a gradient fill layer to add a color wash
      3m 55s
  17. 52m 9s
    1. Removing blemishes with the Spot Healing Brush and the Patch tool
      12m 42s
    2. De-emphasizing wrinkles with the Healing Brush
      4m 52s
    3. Smoothing skin and pores with the High Pass filter
      6m 19s
    4. Making teeth bright and white with a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer
      3m 21s
    5. Brightening eyes with Curves
      7m 0s
    6. Taming flyaway hair with the Patch tool
      3m 44s
    7. Removing unwanted details with Content-Aware Fill
      5m 49s
    8. Body sculpting with Liquify
      8m 22s
  18. 24m 12s
    1. Creating panoramas with Photomerge and Auto-Blend
      4m 48s
    2. Combining multiple frames in an action sequence
      8m 44s
    3. Swapping heads in a family portrait
      10m 40s
  19. 38m 26s
    1. Overview of filters
      2m 52s
    2. Applying filters nondestructively using Smart Filters
      5m 18s
    3. Creating a soft glow with the Gaussian Blur filter
      3m 35s
    4. Creating an infrared look with Diffuse Glow
      2m 14s
    5. Adding noise with the Add Noise filter
      6m 27s
    6. Sharpening an image with Unsharp Mask
      5m 11s
    7. Giving an image texture with the Texturizer filter
      1m 49s
    8. Using the Field, Iris, and Tilt-Shift Blurs
      6m 1s
    9. Creating a painting with the Oil Paint filter
      1m 34s
    10. Applying a filter to multiple layers
      3m 25s
  20. 22m 16s
    1. Cycling through the blending modes
      6m 42s
    2. Adding a lens flare effect with Screen
      2m 40s
    3. Scanning or photographing paper to add a deckled edge
      3m 1s
    4. Making a cast shadow more realistic with Multiply
      5m 21s
    5. Sharpening an image with High Pass and Overlay
      2m 26s
    6. Adding a realistic off-center vignette
      2m 6s
  21. 20m 9s
    1. Exploring character (point) type
      7m 6s
    2. Adding paragraph (area) type
      3m 38s
    3. Adding type on a path
      4m 44s
    4. Clipping an image inside type
      3m 3s
    5. Warping type
      1m 38s
  22. 15m 57s
    1. Adding a drop shadow effect
      6m 15s
    2. Adding edges, textures, and color overlays using layer styles
      4m 27s
    3. Creating a transparent logo or watermark
      2m 42s
    4. Knowing how and when to scale layer effects
      2m 33s
  23. 15m 45s
    1. Creating contact sheets
      2m 49s
    2. Using the Output workspace in Bridge
      5m 32s
    3. Exporting web photo galleries
      4m 20s
    4. Saving for the web
      3m 4s
  24. 23m 38s
    1. Working with video clips
      9m 29s
    2. Adding special effects to video
      5m 45s
    3. Adding pans and zooms to still images
      8m 24s
  25. 1m 10s
    1. Goodbye
      1m 10s

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