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In Photoshop CS6 Essential Training, Julieanne Kost demonstrates how to produce high-quality images in a short amount of time, using a combination of Adobe Photoshop CS6, Bridge, and Camera Raw.
The course details the Photoshop features and creative options, and shows efficient ways to perform common editing tasks, including noise reduction, shadow and highlight detail recovery, retouching, and combining multiple images. Along the way, the course explores techniques for nondestructive editing and compositing using layers, blending modes, layer masks, and much more.
Another problem that we commonly want to correct is to fix any blown-out highlights, or any really bright areas of our scene. The problem is is that as we walk around the world and we look at different things, our eyes can adjust. So, say, for example, we walk inside of a room. Our eyes will adjust so that we can see the detail in the darker area of the room. When we walk outside, our eyes will adjust again so that we can see the brighter scene before us. The difference between the darkest area of a scene and the lightest area of a scene is called the dynamic range of the scene.
While our eyes are really good at adapting really quickly, the camera is not quite as good. The camera can adapt in one way and that is, if you photograph in a very dimly lit room, you can change the ISO of the camera in order to make it more sensitive and kind of see the detail in the darker area. If you walk outside, you would change the ISO in order to photograph a very bright scene. The problem that cameras have is when there are very dark areas and very light areas in the same scene, because then it has trouble capturing the entire dynamic range.
There are a variety of ways that we can fix that, and I am going to try to tone down these really bright reflections in this scene by using a combination of both the White slider and the Highlights. In order to see what is blown out, let's go ahead and turn on our highlight clipping warning. We can see now that all of the overlaid areas with this red are completely white without detail. If we take our White slider and start moving it to the left, you can see that we can bring detail back into that highlight area.
In addition, if we bring the Highlights slider down, we can also compress this area right in here of our Histogram so that we can see more detail in those areas. I like to think of the White slider as where I am going to set the very brightest value. So, here, you'll notice I don't actually have to go as far as I did. If we look at my histogram and we start looking at the image, you'll notice that pulling it back now that I've moved the highlights down really still doesn't blow out or clip any of my bright pixels to pure white.
Then I can come back in the highlight area here, and again, I'm just watching my histogram here and also waiting for any areas in my image to have that red overlay. Once they do, I know just to back it off from there. So now, this scene contains detail in my highlight areas. Of course, this will only work to a certain extent. If the scene was so contrasty or if the photo was way overexposed so that no detail was captured, then the sliders won't be able to recover what's not there.
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