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Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Advanced, the second part of the popular and comprehensive series, updated for CS5, follows internationally renowned Photoshop guru Deke McClelland as he dives into the workings of Photoshop. He explores such digital-age wonders as the Levels and Curves commands, edge-detection filters, advanced compositing techniques, vector-based text, the Liquify filter, and Camera Raw. Deke also teaches tried-and-true methods for sharpening details, smoothing over wrinkles and imperfections, and enhancing colors without harming the original image. Exercise files accompany the course.
Recommended prerequisite: Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Fundamentals.
I've saved my progress as Lost shadows.psd found inside the 17_shads_hilites folder. Our purpose in this exercise is to recover those lost shadows using a luminance mask. As you may recall from our earlier discussions of luminance versus density masks, Luminance mask go ahead and reveal the highlights and conceal the shadows automatically, whereas Density masks will conceal the highlights and reveal the shadows. In our case, we need to conceal the shadows. I know, it doesn't make any sense, they are so dark, why would we want to conceal them that much further.
What we are doing is we are concealing them from the effects of these filters which are causing the darkness. So, that's why we need a luminance mask that will leave the highlights revealed to the effects of these filters. Which filters are we talking about? Well, let's go ahead and build up the image again. Alt+Click or Option+Click on the eyeball in front of Background. There is our original shadows are in great shape obviously. They are not very dramatic, so I guess in not great shape. However, they are visible, we can see them. Whereas, once we add the S/H (Shadows Highlights) layer we have more dramatic shadows, those look pretty good to me and we could go ahead and conceal down to those if we wanted to.
As soon as we add GBlur (Gaussian blur) they are goners, and then High Pass, it doesn't really make it any worse, its just leaves the shadows goners. We really need to mask both of these layers right here in order to effectively bring back the shadows. So, what I'm going to suggest is that you click on High Pass and Shift+Click on GBlur (Gaussian blur) like so, in order to select both of those layers. Anytime, you want to apply a single layer mask to multiple layers you need to put them inside of a group.
So, I'll go up here to Layers panel flyout menu icon and click on it, and then chooses this command right there New Group from layers and that will bring up the New Group dialog box. Then you can name this thing Filter set like so, and then click OK, in order to create a group of folder here that contains both of those filters. If I twirl it open by clicking on little twirly triangle, then I can see the contents of that folder, there they are. So, that's one way to work. Another way by the way, just go and show you this. I'll Undo by pressing Ctrl+Z, Ctrl+Z on the Mac, you also have a keyboard shortcut, which is just Ctrl+G or Command+G on the Mac.
We'll go ahead and group the selected layers into a folder. However, you'll have to perform the second step of naming that group by double-clicking on it, and then entering Filter set. Now, those of you who are thinking as to what's going on here, might say, can you press Ctrl+Alt+G or Command+Option+G, because pressing Alt or Option always brings up that dialog box. Not in this case, because that keyboard shortcut is already devoted by default to creating a clipping mask, as you can see right there. Anyway, if you decide to go the keyboard route, Ctrl+G, Command+G then you are going to have to turn around and name the group in a separate step.
Anyway, I am going to go ahead and twirl open the group, so we can keep track of it. Now, I am going to apply a layer mask to this group and that layer mask will be a luminance mask. But in order to get a halfway decent luminance mask out of things, we need to really burrow down to the original image. So, I'm going to Alt+Click or Option+Click on the eyeball in front of Background. Then I'll switch over to Channels, so that we can see the independent color channels here; Red and then Green and then Blue. Every one of them is a potential luminance mask, because the channel is light where the image is light, so it's going to reveal the highlights.
The channel is dark where the image is dark, so it's going to conceal the shadows. However, blue probably isn't our best bet, because the blue channel is the least responsive to skin tones, so we are not going to have super bright highlights there. Whereas if I were to switch to the green channel, that's going to lighten up the flush tones. We are going to have excellent detail out of this channel. The Green channel most closely represents a grayscale composite of the image incidentally, but because this is a portrait shot. The skin tones are going to resonate most brightly in the Red channel, regardless of race or creed or any of that jazz, the subject of your photo is going to be brightest in the red channel.
So anyway, that's a channel I am going to use this luminance mask. I'm going to Ctrl+Click on a PC, Command+Click on the Mac in order to load this as a selection outline. Click on a RGB composite image to switch back to the full-color image. I'll go to the Layers panel Alt/Option+Click once again on that eyeball in front of Background so that we can see all of the layers in the stack. Then with the Filter set active right there; with that group active, I what you dropdown to the Add layer mask icon, and just click on it. If we were making a density mask, you would Alt/Option+Click on it in order to invert that mask.
That's not what we were doing, we want luminance mask, so just click and you get this effect right there. Notice we have opened up those shadows fairly dramatically, that is, we are now borrowing down to the shadows in the Shadow/Highlights layer, more or less, that is to say. No, we are not borrowing all the way absolutely down, because if I Alt+Click or Option+Click on that layer mask thumbnail, there inside the Layers panel, you can see that his shirt isn't actually black it's a dark gray. So, it's just mostly burrowing its way down to the Shadows/Highlights layer.
All right, so I am going to Alt+Click or Option+Click again to return to the RGB composite image just so we can see what kind of difference this mask is making. Shift+Click on it. This is Before, Shift+Click again, this is After. I am of two minds, one, I'm thinking we're now burrowing down far enough; I want to see more brightness in that. Secondly, I am thinking, we might be losing a little bit of the drama and I'll show you how to address both issues in the next exercise.
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