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Here in this movie, we are going to explore how we can work with adjustment layers, blending modes and masking in order to improve exposure. With this portrait here, you notice that this area is a little bit too dark. I want to brighten that up. I also want to brighten up the overall picture. So let's go ahead and zoom in on the photograph and then let's make a few adjustments to it. We are going to do this again with adjustment layers and blending modes. Here click on the Curves Adjustment Layer icon that will create a new Curves adjustment.
Now we actually aren't going to make any adjustments to the Curves itself, rather we are just using this, so that we can then apply a brightening blending mode. The blending mode that we are going to use is Screen. You can think of this blending mode as if you were projecting from two different projectors the same image onto one screen. It's like we have a double the intensity of the overall brightness. Well, I don't want that to be applied to the entire image everywhere in the same rate, so if you click on your mask, it will take you to the Masks tab here and we will click Invert; that will then hide or conceal all of this blending.
So there is nothing happening with this layer now. We are going to then mask in how we want this to affect our photograph. I also want to create another one of these layers, so while I'm here I will press Command+J on a Mac or Ctrl+J on Windows. All right, so far what we've done is we've created an adjustment layer, change the blending mode to Screen and then fill that mask with black. Next, let's go to the underlying layer -- this one here. Then let's select our Brush tool. You can select the Brush tool by pressing the B key.
For your brush, you are going to want a relatively big brush so we want to have a decent sized brush without any hardness and then we want to decrease our opacity, probably to right around 50% or maybe a little bit less. Next you are going to go ahead and select white in the color picker here, and we are just going to start paint in some of this area. In doing this, we are going to try to paint this in a somewhat smooth way, and then we will smooth out our brush strokes even further by working in the Masks panel. Now when you get to the edges, you may want to decrease your opacity a little bit more so you can create a little bit of a transition, so it doesn't look so much like raccoon eyes. And so here I am just painting back and forth over this photograph and I am looking to kind of paint in some brightness into a few areas of the picture that I think will help it out; that will give it a little bit of a boost.
Here if we click on this icon, you can see our before and now our after. All right, well that's okay; except the problem is that my brush strokes are just too harsh. It's too noticeable. So double-click on your mask to open up the Properties panel and to target the masks and here we are going to increase the feather. In increasing the feather, it's going to soften all of those edges, and you want to do that so it can just kind of takes away the intensity of those brush strokes that you made. All right, well now if we click on that icon, you can see the before and then now the after.
Well currently, this is just brightening the face. Well, if I also wanted to brighten the rest of the image, you can decrease the density. By decreasing the density, it's changing the black mask to something which is a less than black. Now it's a little but gray. In doing that, well this adjustment layer, it's brightening the face and it's also brightening some other parts of the image. It's adding a little bit of life to the photograph. Okay, well this adjustment is looking pretty good. Next thing I want to do is, go into my other adjustment layer here, which has a black mask, and here once again, I am going to use my Brush tool. I am going to paint with white. We will use a nice low opacity. Let's take this up just a little bit though from where it was, and then I will decrease my brush size by pressing the left bracket key. I am just going to bring a little bit of light into the eyes as well.
So I am using this other adjustment layer just to kind of fine-tune a little bit how this is coming in here, and I am just going to try to bring in just a touch of light into this area and also into some of these shadow areas as well. So by doing this, I can kind of stack up this brightening effect. Next, we will go to the mask and we will add some feather. And when you add this feather, it really softens this out, so it makes these adjustments a little bit more just kind of in this general area than specific brush strokes. It's an easy way to create a lightening or brightening effect that isn't really that noticeable.
Well, here you can see that before and after on this layer and then if we click and drag across the Eye icons, we can see our overall before and after and in this way, we've looked at how we can use an adjustment layer and the blending mode in order to brighten different parts of our photograph and what's interesting about using this technique is that we have flexibility as we saw in regards to working with the mask, whether we are changing the density of the mask. We also can then soften our edges of our brush strokes and ultimately because this is an adjustment layer, it's not increasing our file size that much.
Last but not least, it's almost always interesting to experiment with your opacity levels with these layers, and here I am just going to bring these back a little bit. I find a lot when I'm working with my people photographs, I apply an effect and it's just a bit too strong. Yet, it helps me kind of see my edges if you apply it at a strength which is a bit more than you need. Then at the end of the workflow you can back that off so that you have nice results as we have here with this photograph.
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