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Sometimes images are different tones in different places. For example, if you look at the face of the man on the far left of this image and compare him to the lady on the far right, you will notice his face is much brighter. Likewise the upper left-hand corner of the room is much brighter than the upper right-hand corner. In this case it was probably caused by uneven lighting, but whatever the reason, you will sometimes want to even an image up, and I am going to show you a quick and easy way to do that. Begin by going to the bottom of your Layers panel selecting the half-black, half- white circle, the Create a new fill or adjustment layer icon, and select Curves.
In this case we are going to lighten one end of the photo, so we are going to take our histogram in this center and drag it up towards the top left-hand corner for an overall lightening of the image. Now we'll go back down to our Curves mask. And black is set to our foreground color, so we are going to use Alt+Backspace or Option+Delete to invert our Curves mask. Now we'll go to our toolbar, select our Brush tool, and we're going to invert our colors down here so the light is the foreground and begin painting in light areas.
Adjust your brush size using your open and close bracket keys. We've got a large area, so we'll make it fairly large. We're going to paint in this darker area-- I am going to make the brush even bigger still--with the light color. Once we have that done--it's just basic. I am not being very, very careful, just to give you an overall idea. Go up to your Gaussian Blur in your Filter > Blur and then Gaussian Blur, and we'll soften that painting we just did.
You can set this pretty high. We want a very good blur. We are not looking for accuracy. We are just looking for blend and hit OK. Then lower your Opacity until your new area matches fairly well with the wider area. Let's hide that layer by clicking the eye icon. We are going to add another new fill or adjustment layer, again Curves, and lighten it. Again, invert your mask. This time your black is your background color, so hit Ctrl+Backspace or Command+Backspace to fill in your Curves mask and invert it.
You can also--I am going to adjust this with my open bracket key-- you can also do just certain areas, instead of doing big areas. If you just have a face you want a little lighter, you notice how light this face is compared to these others, so maybe we just want to lighten their faces up a bit. You have a lot of control over this. Again, this isn't very neat-- just giving you an overall idea.
Go up to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur. I am going to bring it down just a little bit. I want it to be a little more precise when it's in a smaller area. Click OK and then lower your opacity, keeping an eye on that light face on the end, just to blend them in a little better. Just keep an eye on your before and after and see if it's too much or not enough, and that looks pretty good. It can probably go down to, let's say about 35, and that looks a little closer.
One more way you can lighten one part of an image is make a new blank layer and make white your foreground color, go to your Gradient tool, and go up here and make sure you have Foreground to Transparent selected, and make a gradient through just part of the image, the dark part, go up here to your Layer Blend modes and find a Blend mode you like, Overlay, Soft Light, whatever you want to try, something you can see through obviously.
Lower your Opacity down to let's say 25%. See, we have just lightened that up, just a little bit so it compares a little better with this other side. Those are just a few ways to lighten parts of an image without lightening or darkening a whole image. If you want to darken a part, you just reverse your colors and you paint or do your gradients in black. When an overall tonal adjustment isn't what your image needs, if it's lighter on one end and darker on the other, sometimes you just need a little spot adjustment to bring it all together.
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