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In this exercise, we're going to create a layer mask that relegates our modifications to adjust the shadow details inside the image, protects the highlights and we're going to do so using what's known as a Density Mask. Now, first it's going to seem like a fairly subtle modification, but over time it will make a big difference. I've saved my changes as Luminance noise squished.psd found inside the 12_smooth folder. I want you to make sure that the lum noise layer is active and then we're going to switchover to the Channels panel and I want you to check out the various color channels that are available to you.
This is the Red channel inside the image, this one right here is the Green channel and finally, we have the Blue channel all of which are standard inside of an RGB photograph. Now, the think to bear in mind is that we are seeing what amounts to masks if you want to look at it that way. Masks that reveal the highlights, remember that white reveals and black conceals so where the channels are concerned we're revealing the highlights and we're concealing the shadows. And that's what's known as Luminance Mask by the way you're just using the natural luminance information inside the image to mask an effect.
However, what we want is the opposite of that we want to take one of these channels and invert it so that we're protecting the highlights with black and we're revealing the shadows with white and that's what's known as a Density Mask. Now, you can select the channel that you think is going to work best for you by reviewing the various channels and selecting one. When in doubt the best channel is going to be the Green channel because that's your detail channel. And the green channel is going to work especially well, if you're editing a landscape, or a still life, or something along those lines. The one exception is if you're editing a portrait shot in which case, the Red channel might end up serving you better, but this guy is a cold-blooded animal so red is not really all that useful to us I'm going to stick with Green.
And in order to load Green as the selection outline which is what we need to do, you want to Ctrl+Click or Command+Click on that thumbnail loads that Green channel as the selection outline. Then go ahead and click on RGB in order to return to the full color composite image. Go to the Layers panel make sure the lum noise layer is active now, if you were to dropdown here to the Add layer mask icon and just click on it why then you would create a luminance mask. That is to say you would reveal the highlights and you would conceal the shadows.
That's exactly the opposite of what we want however. So often times if you want to turn things on their head inside Photoshop then you press the Alt key or the Option key and that's what we're going to do here. So Alt+Click or Option+Click on this layer mask thumbnail and you end up creating an inverted version of that selection outline and this is what it looks like. I'll go ahead and Alt+Click or Option+Click on that layer mask thumbnail and what we're seeing is an inverted green channel so we're revealing the shadows and we're concealing the highlights.
Now, problem is we have a variety of gray values going on here. We don't have nice bright whites and we don't have nice rich blacks, so we're not really doing a great job of concealing or revealing anything at this point; which means we need to increase the contrast, but before we do that I'm going to suggest that we set things up so that we can preview our changes both in the layer mask and inside the composite image. So I'm going to go up to the Window menu, choose the Arrange command and choose New Window for Luminance noise squished.psd which creates a new window into this image.
Let's go ahead and zoom in on that image so that we can see it at a 100% and notice now we are seeing the full color composite view of the image. I'm going to go up here to the Arrange icon in the application bar and I'm going to switch to the two up display, like so. And for some reason Photoshop has his amazing habit of doing this of switching the two windows with each other, but anyway now we've the RGB image, the RGB composite over here on a left-hand side and we have the mask over here on the right-hand side. Fine by me and I really don't care, but this way by having two views into the image, we can keep track of what's going on with the mask and the composite image independently.
So now, what you want to do? With the mask active very important here, inside the Layers panel, go up to the Image menu and then choose Adjustments and choose Levels. And we're applying a static command by the way because we're working with the mask and we're going to discussing masks by the way and the all kinds of detail in the mastery portion of the series, but in the meantime you've got a work with the static adjustment. So choose Levels or press Ctrl+L, Command+L on a Mac. I'll move this guy over so we can see what we're doing. And what I need to do is protect more of the highlights inside the image and notice I do that by dragging my black slider triangle over to the right, to increase that black point value.
And at this point I'm saying because my black point value is 163, I'm saying anything that has the Luminance Level of 163 or darker inside of the mask, protects those highlights. So we are protecting more and more highlights inside of the image and we're revealing those little whiskers for example around the eye which are very important. Now, I don't think you should go quite that high, I'm going to suggest 150 as being an ideal setting. Now, then we're also protecting too much of this compound eye here which means that we're bringing noise back into the eye which I don't want so, I want to bring in more of the noise reduction.
And notice, when I do this just keep an eye not only sort of look out of the side of your eye what's happening here inside the layer mask, but I really want you to look at the butterflies eye here in the composite view and see what happens as I move this white slider triangle over to the left. And notice, that I'm revealing, it's a fairly subtle manipulation, but I'm revealing more and more noise reduction. So when I say reveal, I'm actually getting rid of noise inside of that eye. Anyway, I suggest you to take this white point value down to 200 works pretty well for this effect.
And then go ahead and click the OK button in order to apply these settings. So 150 for the black point value 200, for the white point value, leave gamma alone, you don't need to mess with that. Click OK in order to accept that setting and then if you want to bring out more of the noise reduction inside the eye because we are protecting the eye to a small extent right there. Then you can select the eye independently of the rest of the image. And I'll show you how to do exactly that using the Elliptical Marquee tool could not be easier, but involves a special trick in the next exercise.
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