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Photoshop is one of the world’s most powerful image editors, and it can be daunting to try to use skillfully. Photoshop CS4 One-on-One: Advanced, the second part of the popular and comprehensive series, follows internationally renowned Photoshop guru Deke McClelland as he dives into the workings of Photoshop. He explores such digital-age wonders as the Levels and Curves commands, edge-detection filters, advanced compositing techniques, vector-based text, the Liquify filter, and Camera Raw. Deke also teaches tried-and-true methods for sharpening details, smoothing over wrinkles and imperfections, and enhancing colors without harming the original image. Exercise files accompany the course.
Recommended prerequisite: Photoshop CS4 One-on-One: Fundamentals.
Download Deke's customized keyboard layouts and color settings for Photoshop from the Exercise Files tab.
In the final two exercises of this chapter we are going to explore a command called Shadows Highlights, which is an alternate way to reduce the contrast of an image by elevating the shadows and reducing the highlights. It works beautifully if the image is under saturated or if you want to add a little bit of detail and edge. So if the image is super hot like that elephant, it's not going to do you very good. But if it's a little tapered, like this scene right here, it could work nicely, put it that way. All right. So I'm working with this image called Tropical pathway.jpg. Notice what we've got here is a very high contrast shot. So we're losing the detail underneath the stairs, and we've got too much flashing on the sides of these railings here. So I want to calm things down.
I could do that presumably using a Curves layer. So I'll go over here to the Adjustment palette, and I'll Alt+Click or Option+Click on the Curves icon right there. I'll call this like low contrast or something along those lines. Click OK. Then I could, let's say, go ahead and lock down the midpoint, and I'd grab my highlights right here and drag them down a little bit, and I'd grab my shadows and drag them up a little bit, and we would get a reduce contrast scenes. So we're elevating the shadows, mitigating the highlights, and leaving the midtones alone.
The problem is it's kind of a murky scene now that we've created, and I don't really particularly care for it. We're going to get something better and sharper, little more dynamic out of Shadows/Highlights. So I'm going to turn off this low contrast layer right there. Switch back to the Background layer, very important. We might as well hide the Adjustments palette for now because we don't need it up on screen. So I've got the Background layer active. I'm going to go up to the Image menu, choose Adjustments, and choose Shadows/ Highlights. You may say, Deke , what are you doing, why are you applying a static modification to this image? Why did we just hide the Adjustments palette, why didn't you go ahead and click on the little Shadows/Highlights icon in the Adjustments palette? The answer to that question is; I'll go ahead and open it up again, because it's not there, there isn't one. We have got, what is it, I think we have 15 different icons here and none of them is Shadows/Highlights, and the reason is Shadows/Highlights is not a color correction function in the truest sense, its a filter; more about that much later when we look at smart filters. But for now, we're going to have to apply it as a static modification.
So we've got to make sure Background is active. Go up here to Image, choose Adjustments, choose Shadows/Highlights, which really ought to in the Filter menu, because it's an edge detection function, as we will learn when we get to Filters in a later chapter. But I'm going to go ahead and choose Shadows/Highlights here. Here is the Shadows/Highlights dialog box, and we've got Shadows cranked up to 50; these are the default settings, and Highlights at 0. So in other words, we're brightening the heck out of the shadows right here. Way too much in my opinion. These are terrible default settings I think. We're not doing anything to the Highlights, which need a little bit of dimming. So notice if I raise that Highlights value, I'm dimming the Highlights.
What I would recommend for this image is something along the lines of 30, 30; works pretty nicely actually, just 30, 30, and you get some nicely elevated Shadows and some nicely mitigated Highlights. So this is before, if I turn off Preview, and this is after. Here is the problem though. I look at this image and I can totally tell that Shadows/Highlights has been applied to it, because it's got this fake HDR look to it. Don't particularly care for the specific variety of fake HDR; by the way, I mean fake High Dynamic Range, and fake HDR can actually be great, I do all kinds of things with it, actually in once again my Mastering Lab Color series.
But this particular approach is not my favorite, and you may end up being the same way. In other words, after you apply Shadows/Highlights to few images, over the course of like a couple of months, let's say, because at first it just seems like this miracle command, it doesn't wear well. My guess is you'll kind of tire of it. At least, you'll tire of these very few options, just Shadows and Highlights, these very simple sliders right here, what you'll want to do is turn on Show More Options, which makes the command fantastically more complicated, but check it out, it gives us a lot more control as well. I'm going to show you how to work with these additional controls in the next exercise.
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