Photoshop CS5 Essential Training
Illustration by John Hersey



Photoshop CS5 Essential Training

with Michael Ninness

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Video: Shadow/Highlight

One of my favorite tonal correction tool inside Photoshop is also one of the most powerful, and that's something called Shadows/Highlights. It's great! It does have one flaw, and we will talk about that and how to correct for that flaw in just a moment, but first, let's talk about what Shadows/Highlights is. It can be found under the Image menu, under Adjustments > Shadows/Highlights. It's basically, really simple. It's a dialog with two sliders, initially. There is actually several more sliders available, and we will get to that in just a moment. But Shadows/Highlights, basically, is able to see all the Highlight areas and all the Shadow areas separately, and build masks for you behind the scenes.
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  1. 6m 10s
    1. Welcome
      1m 47s
    2. What is Photoshop?
      2m 49s
    3. Using the exercise files
      1m 34s
  2. 28m 29s
    1. What is Adobe Bridge?
      1m 54s
    2. Getting photos from a camera
      3m 39s
    3. A tour of the different workspaces in Adobe Bridge
      4m 58s
    4. Customizing how thumbnails are displayed
      3m 35s
    5. Changing obscure camera file names with the Batch Rename command
      2m 36s
    6. Adding basic metadata to every image with metadata templates
      3m 36s
    7. Creating and applying keywords to images
      4m 6s
    8. Viewing images in Full Screen Preview mode
      4m 5s
  3. 23m 4s
    1. Using Review mode to filter out rejects
      5m 27s
    2. Protecting the keepers by saving them in collections
      3m 18s
    3. Rating images
      3m 15s
    4. Using the Filter panel to view different subsets
      4m 43s
    5. Viewing final choices in a slideshow
      2m 12s
    6. Organizing groups of images into stacks
      4m 9s
  4. 30m 50s
    1. Raw vs. JPEG files
      5m 13s
    2. Why you should start in Camera Raw instead of Photoshop
      5m 9s
    3. A tour of the Camera Raw user interface
      6m 44s
    4. Previewing before and after adjustments
      4m 2s
    5. Toggling onscreen Shadow/Highlight clipping warnings
      2m 37s
    6. Choosing output settings
      2m 45s
    7. Saving a copy without going to Photoshop
      4m 20s
  5. 41m 34s
    1. Eliminating red-eye with the Red Eye Removal tool
      1m 13s
    2. Improving composition with the non-destructive Crop tool
      3m 33s
    3. Correcting a rotated horizon line with the Straighten tool
      3m 5s
    4. Fixing color casts with the White Balance tool
      2m 13s
    5. Fixing blown-out highlights with Recovery
      2m 36s
    6. Revealing hidden shadow detail with Fill Light
      1m 47s
    7. Reducing distracting color noise with Noise Reduction
      5m 37s
    8. Removing color fringes with Chromatic Aberration
      2m 36s
    9. Sharpening the details
      8m 59s
    10. End to end: Taking a so-so photo and making it great
      9m 55s
  6. 39m 5s
    1. Fixing blown-out skies with the Graduated Filter tool
      4m 34s
    2. Retouching blemishes with the Spot Removal tool
      5m 41s
    3. Making local adjustments with the Adjustments Brush
      4m 28s
    4. Quick portrait retouching technique using Clarity
      4m 33s
    5. Converting to black and white
      3m 36s
    6. Editing images directly with the Targeted Adjustments tool
      4m 18s
    7. Easy sepia and split tone effects
      2m 35s
    8. Adding digital film grain texture effects
      2m 46s
    9. Adding vignettes and border effects
      2m 13s
    10. Saving variations within a single file with Snapshots
      4m 21s
  7. 15m 48s
    1. Copying settings from one file and pasting across another in Adobe Bridge
      3m 7s
    2. Processing multiple files in Camera Raw
      2m 28s
    3. Saving and using a library of Camera Raw presets
      5m 33s
    4. Using Image Processor to batch process multiple files
      4m 40s
  8. 30m 39s
    1. Opening files from Adobe Bridge
      3m 1s
    2. Opening files from Mini Bridge
      3m 28s
    3. Customizing the Mini Bridge panel
      2m 57s
    4. Changing Mini Bridge so it auto-collapses
      1m 20s
    5. The Application frame
      2m 16s
    6. The Application bar
      1m 16s
    7. Switching and saving workspaces
      4m 23s
    8. Panel management
      5m 31s
    9. Switching tools using the keyboard
      3m 18s
    10. Customizing the keyboard shortcuts
      3m 9s
  9. 16m 12s
    1. Tabbed documents
      2m 1s
    2. The Arrange Documents widget
      1m 38s
    3. How to stop Photoshop from tabbing documents
      3m 34s
    4. Pan and zoom
      5m 21s
    5. Cycling through the different screen modes
      3m 38s
  10. 36m 59s
    1. File formats
      13m 6s
    2. What resolution does your image need to be?
      10m 15s
    3. Resize vs. Resample
      9m 40s
    4. How big a print can you make with your image?
      3m 58s
  11. 42m 17s
    1. Crop options
      4m 12s
    2. Hide vs. Delete for the Crop tool
      3m 30s
    3. Bringing back hidden pixels with Reveal All
      1m 34s
    4. Making the canvas bigger with the Crop tool
      6m 1s
    5. Making the canvas bigger by a specific amount with Relative Canvas Size
      1m 39s
    6. Correcting perspective with the Crop tool
      3m 5s
    7. Straightening a crooked image
    8. Scaling, skewing, and rotating with Free Transform
      4m 12s
    9. Nondestructive transformations with Smart Objects
      4m 2s
    10. Warping images
      3m 40s
    11. Preserving the important elements with Content-Aware Scaling
      9m 32s
  12. 54m 42s
    1. The Background layer
      5m 14s
    2. Using a layer mask instead of deleting pixels
      4m 12s
    3. Loading multiple images into a single Photoshop document as layers
      1m 30s
    4. Naming, hiding, creating, and deleting layers
      4m 18s
    5. Changing the stacking order of layers
      2m 51s
    6. Selecting layers without using the Layers panel
      6m 28s
    7. Transforming layers
      7m 16s
    8. Aligning and distributing layers
      3m 51s
    9. Changing the opacity of layers
      2m 57s
    10. Organizing layers into groups
      2m 55s
    11. Saving variations with layer comps
      5m 3s
    12. When to merge and rasterize layers
      5m 0s
    13. Flatten vs. Save As (a Copy)
      3m 7s
  13. 1h 4m
    1. Using the Marquee and Lasso tools
      7m 23s
    2. Transform selections
      2m 40s
    3. Quick Mask is your friend
      4m 31s
    4. Converting a selection into a layer mask
      6m 33s
    5. Using the Quick Selection tool
      3m 1s
    6. Re-selecting a previous selection
      1m 35s
    7. Improving a selection with Refine Edge
      4m 21s
    8. Touching up a layer mask with the Brush tool
      12m 7s
    9. Changing the opacity, size, and hardness of the painting tools
      2m 59s
    10. Blending images with a gradient layer mask
      4m 53s
    11. Swapping heads in a family portrait
      3m 53s
    12. Combining multiple exposures with the Blend If sliders
      6m 26s
    13. Replacing the sky in an image
      4m 19s
  14. 1h 1m
    1. Introducing adjustment layers
      7m 57s
    2. Starting with a preset
      4m 25s
    3. Improving tonal quality with Levels
      10m 28s
    4. Increasing midtone contrast with Curves
      5m 4s
    5. Removing a color cast with Auto Color
      5m 56s
    6. Changing the color temperature with Photo Filter
      2m 55s
    7. Shifting colors with Hue/Saturation
      9m 0s
    8. Making washed out colors pop with Vibrance
      2m 46s
    9. Converting color to black and white
      5m 49s
    10. Controlling which layers are affected by an Adjustment Layer
      7m 28s
  15. 11m 32s
    1. Shadow/Highlight
      9m 3s
    2. Matching color across multiple images
      2m 29s
  16. 34m 12s
    1. Removing blemishes with the Spot Healing brush
      6m 21s
    2. Quick technique for smoothing skin and pores
      8m 23s
    3. Taming flyaway hair
      4m 47s
    4. Making teeth bright and white
      1m 43s
    5. De-emphasizing wrinkles
      4m 41s
    6. Removing unwanted details with Content Aware Fill
      4m 26s
    7. Body sculpting with Liquify
      3m 51s
  17. 21m 6s
    1. Creating panoramas with Photomerge and Auto-Blend
      7m 20s
    2. Combining multiple frames of an action sequence
      8m 30s
    3. Combining group shots with Auto-Align
      5m 16s
  18. 25m 36s
    1. Overview of filters
      4m 6s
    2. Applying filters nondestructively with Smart Filters
      4m 45s
    3. Giving an image a soft glow with the Gaussian Blur filter
      4m 41s
    4. Adding noise to an image with the Add Noise filter
      3m 34s
    5. Sharpening an image with Unsharp Mask
      4m 12s
    6. Giving an image more texture with the Texturizer
      1m 17s
    7. Applying a filter to multiple layers
      3m 1s
  19. 30m 44s
    1. Cycling through the blending modes
      4m 43s
    2. Three blending modes you must know
      6m 41s
    3. Adding a lens flare effect with Screen
      3m 33s
    4. Making a cast shadow more realistic with Multiply
      4m 33s
    5. Creating a diffused contrast glow effect with Overlay
      6m 2s
    6. Sharpening an image with High Pass and Overlay
      5m 12s
  20. 21m 39s
    1. Character (point) type
      8m 19s
    2. Paragraph (area) type
      4m 42s
    3. Type on a path
      2m 54s
    4. Clipping an image inside type
      2m 24s
    5. Warping type
      3m 20s
  21. 20m 35s
    1. Adding a drop shadow effect
      4m 43s
    2. Adding an outer glow effect
      3m 13s
    3. Adding a border around an image
      2m 53s
    4. Copying layer effects and applying them to other layers
      2m 3s
    5. Saving layer styles and applying them in other documents
      2m 42s
    6. How (and when) to scale layer effects
      5m 1s
  22. 16m 6s
    1. Creating PDF contact sheets
      6m 41s
    2. Exporting web photo galleries
      6m 8s
    3. Saving for the web
      3m 17s
  23. 1m 19s
    1. Goodbye
      1m 19s

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Watch the Online Video Course Photoshop CS5 Essential Training
11h 15m Beginner Apr 30, 2010

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

In Photoshop CS5 Essential Training, author Michael Ninness demonstrates how to produce the highest quality images with fantastic detail in the shortest amount of time, using a combination of Photoshop CS5, Adobe Bridge, and Camera Raw. This course shows the most efficient ways to perform common editing tasks, including noise reduction, shadow and highlight detail recovery, retouching, and combining multiple images. Along the way, Michael shares the secrets of non-destructive editing, utilizing and mastering Adobe Bridge, Camera Raw, layers, adjustment layers, blending modes, layer masks, and much more. Exercise files are included with the course.

Topics include:
  • Automating image adjustments with Camera Raw
  • Adding keywords, ratings, and other metadata to images
  • Filtering a large collection of images down to the "keepers"
  • Cropping, correcting perspective, and straightening images
  • Creating, naming, hiding, and deleting layers
  • How to make selections and masks quickly
  • Improving mask quality with Refine Edge
  • Techniques for combining multiple images
  • Non-destructive editing techniques with adjustment layers and Smart Filters
  • Retouching essentials, such as blemish removal and body sculpting
  • Color correcting images
  • Using the essential blend modes, layer effects, and styles
  • Creating contact sheets and web photo galleries
Design Photography
Michael Ninness


One of my favorite tonal correction tool inside Photoshop is also one of the most powerful, and that's something called Shadows/Highlights. It's great! It does have one flaw, and we will talk about that and how to correct for that flaw in just a moment, but first, let's talk about what Shadows/Highlights is. It can be found under the Image menu, under Adjustments > Shadows/Highlights. It's basically, really simple. It's a dialog with two sliders, initially. There is actually several more sliders available, and we will get to that in just a moment. But Shadows/Highlights, basically, is able to see all the Highlight areas and all the Shadow areas separately, and build masks for you behind the scenes.

So, for instance, this image has two problems. Let's turn the Preview off just for a second. You can see the Shadows are too dark, and the Highlights are too hot. Now, without using something like Shadows/Highlights, you typically have to use multiple Adjustment layers. You do maybe a Levels or Curves Adjustment layer to lighten the Shadows, and then mask out the part that's being affected by the Highlights. And vice versa, you create a second Adjustment layer and bring down the Highlights but then have to mask out where it's affecting the Shadows. The Shadows/Highlights feature here, this dialog, basically does all that for you behind the scenes.

The default view is just to have these two sliders: Shadows and Highlights. And if you make the Amount higher on the Shadows, then the Shadows will get lighter. Let's turn the Preview back on. You can see what I am talking about. So, just one simple interface for making the Shadows brighter or making the Highlights darker. Okay. Now, one thing to mention about Shadows /Highlights is that there is no magic number that will work for every single image. You have to play around with the sliders until it looks right for your particular image. So, these are just starting points. You are meant to experiment here. Couple of things to watch out for is if the Amount gets too high on the Shadows, let's say, it starts to feel a little flat.

You are losing contrast. It starts to get posterized a little bit. If the Highlights are too high, you get the same problem, just in the Highlight area, and it just starts to look solarized or look artificial. So, to start, you just kind of dial in a number that looks appropriate for your particular image. Then if you want to actually have more control over this, you open up the Show More Options check box. Once you turn that on, you can see there are a lot more sliders here. I think the Photoshop team didn't want to intimidate first time users of this dialog. You open it up, and this is what you saw upfront, all these gazillion sliders here, you might be a little overwhelmed and intimidated.

So, with that turned off, that's the default view, just to kind of introduce yourself to the feature. But then when you want to dial in more control, you turn on Show More Options. Now, within each section, so Shadows and Highlights, the Amount slider is like a global volume control. If the Amount is set to 0, then it doesn't actually matter what these other sliders do within the group, because there is no Amount being applied. Let's start with Shadows. Again, you are just trying to open it up to the appropriate look and feel for yourself for this particular image. Then you can control how much contrast, or flattening, that's happening by using Tonal Width and Radius.

The Tonal Width, again, is how many levels of darkness are considered within the range that's being adjusted. The higher the number, the more Shadows get found and get brightened. So, lower number only goes after the darkest Shadows. As you increase the Tonal Width there, you are getting more of the middle range Shadows being affected as well. So, again, you just dial it into a number that looks right for you. I am going to take this to about 45, let's say. The Radius is, once an area is determined to be a Shadow and to be affected by the Amount, how far out should that range be affected? What you want to look out for are little haloing effects.

So, if I take the Radius down too small, you can look in the Shadow here. You can see it's kind of dark on the edge, light in the middle, and then dark on the edge again. So, you want to just choose a Radius where you are getting smooth blending across the range that's being affected. If you are starting to see weird posterization, or glowy kind of effects, you just want to affect that Radius until you get it right. Same concept for Highlights; if I take the Amount up, you can see I am dialing in the detail on this wood. You can see the detail in the avocado is getting a little bit better as well.

Let's turn the Preview on and off to see the before and after. You can see I am really bringing that wood grain back into view here. Then you have the same sort of controls for Tonal Width and Radius, how many Highlights are going to be considered to be affected by the Tonal Width. Okay, I will take that to 45% as well. Then the Radius, be looking out for weird glow effects. Let's see if I can cause one to show up here. If I take the Amount too low or too high, you will sometimes end up with this weird kind of artificial light edge. Look at the right of this Shadow here.

You can see there, I am getting this kind of white glow on the edge of that. So, you want to watch out for those glow effects and just play with the Radius until you don't see those weird artifacts showing up. One other advantage of the Shadows/ Highlights dialog is that you can actually do some Color Correction and Midtone Contrast Adjustments as well. Color Correction is defaulted. It's set to 20, because as you are adjusting these tonal values, that can cause color shifts to occur, so the default is set to 20. If I take that down to 0, you can see what Shadows/Highlights is trying to do for you, by default. So, there is at 0. I will undo, Command+Z or Ctrl+Z. There is after.

You can see I am bringing a little bit of warmth back into the image by giving it a positive Color Correction. Now, if that's not what you want to do, you want to control Color Correction separately, then just take Color Correction down to 0, and use an Adjustment layer, let's say, to adjust the color after the fact. You just have the advantage of having that available here as part of this one single dialog, if that's something that you are interested in. Same concept for Midtone Contrast. This won't affect the darkest or lightest points in the image, but it's like having a curves dialog for increasing contrast along the midtones.

This is like having an S curve on a slider. So, the higher the Amount, the more pronounced the S curve would be to increase contrast. Then if you take it to the other direction, you are actually reducing contrast. So, I find when I use the Shadows/ Highlights dialog that I am more, often than not, adding a Midtone Contrast of somewhere between 10 and 20, just to give it an extra pop. It's like having that Clarity slider in Camera Raw, of sorts. All right. I am going to click OK, and there is my resulting image. I am going to undo, Command+Z or Ctrl+Z. There is before.

I am going to undo again, Command+Z, Ctrl+Z. And there is after. Pretty cool! Here is the flaw that I wanted to mention at the beginning. Shadows/Highlights is not available as an Adjustment layer. So, if I were to open up the Adjustments panel and hover around these icons, Shadows/Highlights will not be listed as one of those adjustments. If you remember - I will go ahead and collapse this panel by double-clicking on the word Adjustments - the advantage of Adjustment layers is that they are nondestructive, which means you can go back and edit them at any time. The problem with Shadows/Highlights, as it stands right now, is it's an adjustment that affects the actual layer, which means this is a permanent change.

If I were to save this file now and come back tomorrow, I wouldn't be able to reopen Shadows/Highlights and get back to where I started from. So, I am going to undo, Command+Z or Ctrl+Z, and talk about the workaround for that. It turns out there is a useful workaround where you can get Shadows/Highlights to work in a nondestructive manner. You just have to take advantage of another feature called Smart Objects. Now, a Background layer cannot be a Smart Object. So, we are going to go ahead and convert this Background layer to just a normal layer. I can just do that by double- clicking on the word Background. That brings up this dialog box, and you can give it a Name, layer 0.

I will just leave it there for now. Now that it's a normal layer. We can right-click on the name of the layer and say Convert to Smart Object. Now that we have got this converted as a Smart Object, let's go to Image > Adjustments > Shadows/Highlights. It brings up that dialog box again. Now it's going back to the default values, so we need to go ahead and readjust these settings. I think I had my Tonal Width at, say, 45, and my Radius about 75, let's say. It looks good. Let's bring up the Highlights to about 30. Again, you are just kind of dialing in what looks good to you.

I want to make sure I don't have any weird Highlight glows, so I am looking to fix that by increasing the Radius until I don't see those weird artifacts. And then I will take that Midtone Contrast up to 15, let's say. All right. I am going to go ahead and click OK. It's going to be pretty much the exact same adjustment we did before, but you will notice now that because we converted this layer into a Smart Object, Shadows/Highlights is actually listed there as an effect that you have applied to this particular layer, and it's an effect that can be reedited. So, as long as I save this as a Photoshop file, a PSD, and come back tomorrow, next week, whatever, this information will still be listed here.

If I want to tweak these settings, I simply have to double-click on the word Shadows/Highlights in the layer. Now, if you don't see these settings when you reopen your file, it's because this layer may have been collapsed. There is this little disclosure triangle on the right of the layer name. If you click that, that will expand and show you everything that's been applied to that particular layer in there, Shadows/Highlights. Let's go ahead and double-click on it. That reopens the dialog. So, you can go back and tweak the settings as much as you need to, just to make sure you get it perfected. So, there you have it, Shadows/Highlights. It's a really wonderful way to go ahead and do both Shadow and Highlight adjustments without having to do deal with a bunch of layer Masks.

It's a single adjustment. And then, to get it to be nondestructive, just convert the layer that you want to apply Shadows/Highlights to to a Smart Object first, and then you can do it in a nondestructive way.

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