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The core strength of Adobe Photoshop is the way it enables you to improve the quality of your images, whether you're fixing a major problem or making a subtle adjustment. In this workshop Tim Grey explores a wide variety of techniques to help you get the best results when optimizing your images. He begins with basics like cropping, changing brightness and contrast, and correcting color balance, then moves on to more advanced adjustments like Shadows/Highlights, Curves, and dodging and burning. Then learn how to make targeted adjustments that affect only selected parts of the image and apply creative adjustments that don't so much fix a problem as add a unique touch. And best of all, Tim teaches all these techniques as part of an overall workflow designed to help you work quickly, efficiently, and nondestructively.
In a variety of situations, you might have one area of the image that needs a different adjustment compared to other areas of the image. I see this very often with skies, for example. And here you see the sky is quite bright even though the rest of the image is relatively dark, I would say well exposed overall, that sky is a bit bright. I'd like to tone it down just a little bit. And we can use a targeted adjustment for that purpose, and specifically, a targeted adjustment that makes use of a selection. By using a selection, we're able to identify an area that we want to adjust, and then, use that selection as the basis of the adjustment.
Let me show you an example. I'll go ahead and choose the Quick Selection tool from the toolbox. And then, I'll simply click and drag across the sky in order to create a basic selection. You'll see that there are a few areas where the sky is peeking through behind something else. I'll zoom in on this portion of the image, for example. And we can see that there is a bit of sky there that is not included in the selection. And that's because the Quick Selection tool, at any given time, is only making a contiguous selection, but I can add to that selection by simply painting into those additional areas. I'll adjust my brush size as needed.
And I can also subtract. You can see the water spot here has been included in the selection now. If I switch to the subtract from selection option, I can then click and drag the paint across that area and remove it from the selection. I can then switch back to the add to selection option, we'll zoom in a little closer so I can paint more precisely. And then I can fine tune that selection. So that looks to be pretty good. We have now a basic selection of our sky. Once we've created a selection, creating an adjustment that only affects that area is incredibly easy.
Let's assume I want to use curves to adjust that sky. With a selection active, I'll go ahead and add a new Adjustment layer, in this case Curves. And that Adjustment layer will automatically be masked, so that it only affects the area that was selected. So, you can see that Layer mask, instead of being filled with white, as would be the case by default, is now filled with mostly black with a little bit of white. And that's because I had a selection that had selected a portion of the image, a small portion, relatively speaking. And now, whatever adjustment I apply with Curves will only affect the sky. So you can see, I can brighten or darken that sky, and I don't want to get too dramatic here.
I just want to tone things down, so the sky doesn't look totally washed out. That's probably pretty good right there. That looks to be a pretty good result. So, I have a targeted adjustment based on a selection, so that I'm only effecting the sky with my curves adjustment. Whenever I apply an adjustment in a targeted way based on a selection, I'll also apply a little bit of feathering to the Layer mask. Just to help make sure that the transition between the area being adjusted, and the area that is not being adjusted, has a little bit of transition, is a little bit soft.
I'll go ahead and click on the Masks button on the Properties panel. And then, I will increase the value for feather. I don't need too much, especially because this is a relatively low resolution image. I'll go ahead and increase significantly, and you can probably start to see a little bit of a halo effect going on in the image. I'll back that off to a more appropriate value. Just to give me a little bit of a transition between those areas. So, probably somewhere around a pixel in most cases when we have an object that is relatively crisp. So, that will help again smooth the transition between the area being adjusted, the sky in this case, and the rest of the image. And that's it simply by creating a selection and then adding an Adjustment layer with that selection active, we're able to apply an adjustment that only affects a specific area of the photo.
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