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In Photoshop CS6 for Photographers, author, photographer, and teacher Chris Orwig explores Photoshop from the perspective of the photographer.
The course details the features and techniques behind enhancing and retouching photos, preparing them for print and online publishing, and much more. Chris demonstrates how to make basic edits in Camera Raw, develop and save color profiles, work with layers and selections, tone and sharpen, and retouch images while retaining their natural character.
Chris also shares some creative tips and project ideas, such as converting a photo to black-and-white and enhancing a portrait with hand-painted masks. The course also covers workflow details, such as organizing images in Bridge and Mini Bridge, optimizing Photoshop preferences, and calibrating your monitor.
In this movie, I want to build upon some of the other topics which we've already covered, and I want to focus in on how we can work with levels and masking together in order make an adjustment in a specific area in our picture. Let's go ahead and zoom in on this picture a little bit so that we can take a look at the detail. I really like the natural window light, yet one of the things that I'm noticing is that I would like to brighten up her face. I would like to bring more focus to that area of the picture. Well, to do that, we can use levels. Let's click on the Levels Icon here.
In the Levels panel, what I want do is Brighten things up, so I'll go to my midtone point and click and drag to the left. We can see that's brightening up the face here, but it's also brightening up the curtain and other elements as well. Well, whenever you brighten something, you almost always need to add a little bit of black as well. So go ahead and click and drag this to the right too. Next, what I want to do is limit the adjustment just to the face. To do that, we can use the built-in mask. All of these adjustment layers, they come with the built-in mask.
To access the mask, just click on this icon here. Next, I want to click Invert. That will then change the mask from white to black so that this is concealing all of the Levels adjustment. The next step is to select our Brush tool. With the Brush tool, we want to paint with white. So choose white as your foreground color. Then next, in the Options bar, we want to choose a nice soft-edge brush, perhaps try this one, here. Go ahead and then increase the Size a little bit so that you can then paint on the area of the face.
Next step, you may want to decrease the opacity of your brush. Typically, with masking and painting in light, we want to start with something less than 100%. Well, next step is going to be to just click and paint across the image in this area. And the great thing about this is because we're painting with this nice low opacity, it kind of has this soft feel which matches the overall lighting and mood effect in this photograph. And here, I'm just painting back and front and kind of building up this effect here in this part of the image. I also might paint in a couple other areas around where I'm working, and I want to do that just so that the light all kind of matches together so that it feels cohesive.
With this simple Levels adjustment, let's go ahead take a look at our progress. We can do so by clicking on the Eye Icon in this background layer. Here's before, click on it again, and here's after. That looks so much better. Let's go back to the Levels adjustment by clicking on this icon, and if we want to control this area even more, we can click and drag this, and you can see how I'm brightening up this area even more. Now remember, whenever you brighten, you also need to add a little bit of contrast back in too. So you want to be careful that you do that correctly so you can bring in the appropriate amount of detail.
The last thing that I want to highlight here is that when you are masking, you typically want to soften the edges of your mask. You can do so by clicking on the Mask Icon, and then you can go to the Feather panel. This then allows you to decrease the hardness of those edges. It softens things up a little bit so that your mask looks a little bit less choppy. Well, here let's zoom out a little bit so we can see this picture in this context and then review the overall progress. Again, here's before, and now here's after. We have this really nice subtle, beautiful adjustment that we've made simply by modifying the levels and then by using a mask and painting into that mask where we want this adjustment to be applied.
The last step here that I find works really well is to lower the layer opacity. You want to do this kind of like you would do if you were tuning an instrument just to find just the right sweet spot for this. Sometimes it's just nice to have this a little bit less than 100% so that it's subtle, it's realistic, so that the viewer is going to focus in on the subject rather than on your adjustment. Well, after having made that final adjustment, one more view. Here we have it. Our before, and now our after.
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