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In this movie, I'll show you how to select the highlights in this image using a Luminance Mask and then we'll dramatically darken those highlights using curves. So for starters, I am going to Alt+click or Opt+click on the eye in front of the Background layer, so we can restore the original high contrast version of this photo which is going to work beautifully for masking this dark barn away from this bright sky and snow. So really the image is going to select itself. I'll switch over to the Channels panel and we are looking for the highest contrast of the channels.
The Red channel is going to be brightest because the barn is made of wood. The Green channel is going to be slightly darker and the Blue channel is going to be darker still. So obviously, the Blue channel is the one we want. To load it up as the selection, press the Ctrl key or the Cmd key on the Mac and click on the Blue channel. Then switch back to the RGB image, return to the Layers panel and Alt+click or Opt+click on the eye in front of the Background to restore all the layers. Then assuming you loaded dekeKeys, press Ctrl+ Shift+M or Cmd+Shift+M on the Mac in order to create a new curves layer and I'm going to call this layer darken snow because that's its purpose, and then I'll click the OK button.
And notice that Photoshop goes ahead and automatically converts that selection to a layer mask so we are actually seeing the original Blue channel inside that layer mask which means we'll apply the Curves Adjustment to the highlights and nothing more. All right. Now I'll expand the size of my Curves panel, so I can see the entire graph. And this time around, you don't need to use the Target Adjustment tool. I am just looking for an Input of 165 which is right about there and then I'm going to click and drag down. So ultimately the Input value wants to be 165 and then the Output value wants to be 85 and you can just drag to that location if you like or you can create the point and then nudge it from the keyboard, but again Input 165 dropping down to an Output of 85.
So we're darkening all of those colors dramatically. All right. Now I'll go ahead and hide the Properties panel. Now if I turn off this layer for a moment, you can see that I've managed to not only darken up the snow by I had darken the barn as well and you can watch it brighten up as soon as I turn layer the layer off and then if I turn the layer back on, you see that barn get darker, you see the Background get darker, but the Background is not getting dark enough. So what I need to do is increase the contrast of this layer mask. So I'll Alt+click on it or Opt+click on the layer Mask thumbnail here inside the Layers panel to view it independently of the rest of the image and then the great tool for increasing contrast inside Photoshop is the Levels command.
We have to apply a static version of the command because you can't apply an adjustment layer to a mask. So go up to the Image menu, choose Adjustments and then choose Levels or you can just press Ctrl+L or Cmd+L on the Mac. And you'll see if I move this dialog box over to the right, there is our barn over on the left-hand side of the histogram and there is our snow and sky over on the far right-hand side. So because this is a mask, I want to clip away all of that sky and snow. So I am going to drag this white point triangle over to 200 which tells Photoshop to take everything that has a Luminance Level of 200 or brighter and make it absolutely white.
Then I'll drag the black triangle all the way over to let's say 90 is what I am looking for and that tells Photoshop to take everything with a Luminance Level of 90 or darker and make it absolutely black which is why the barn is turning nearly completely black and the sky and the snow are turning completely white. We are turning some of the weeds black as well as you can see. All right. Now go ahead and click OK to apply that modification and then Alt+click or Opt+click on the layer Mask in order to return to the full color image.
So to see the difference, I'll press Ctrl+Z or Cmd+Z on the Mac. This is what the barn and sky looked like before we modified that layer mask and this is how the barn and sky look now. And if I turn this layer off and then back on, you can see that the barn is barely changing at all, but the snow and sky are becoming much darker. And while that's a lot better, we have got a lot more detail inside the snow and sky for example, the composite image is by no means perfect. I'll go ahead and zoom in to this lower right corner of the image and you can see that the snow and sky are turning kind of purplish on this, especially in the shadow regions and we've got a ton of posterization happening at the edges of the mask.
And I'll show you how to fix both problems, by modifying the mask and adjusting the curves on a channel-by-channel basis in the next movie.
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