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Because the camera's sensor is imperfect, it can only succeed at capturing either the highlights or the shadows, but not both. Our goal is to restore, as best we can, whatever detail we can. In this video, we'll take a look at the Shadows/Highlights Filter. Now, I'm using the image that we're going to be going through with the rest of this title. This doesn't have the extreme kind of highlight-shadow issue that we looked at earlier with the interior of the church, but it still will benefit from moving that away from the kind of exposure that the camera naturally is going to give it.
This is a good overall exposure, but we still want to move it away a bit, and again the goal here is to transition from the language of photography to the language of painting. So in the language of painting, exposure is going to be much more even throughout, because of the way the human eye looks around at the image and builds it up over all of these varying parts of the image that it puts together. So let's go to the Highlights/Shadow filter, and it's in Image > Adjustments, right down here, Shadows and Highlights.
What I'm going to do here then is play around with both the Shadow and Highlight amounts. As I've been saying all through the title, there is no one correct answer. It's not like I can give you a pair of numbers here that are going to be the right way to do this. It's going to be up to your eye, and that once again gets back to the artist's eye, rather than the camera's cold machine eye. So let's just punch up the Shadow slider, and you can see what's happening is it's taking the darks out of the shadows. If we look particularly like in this area here where these trees are, as I turn that up, you'll see that I can start to see more of the detail of the bark of the tree.
So I'm going to turn that up so that I can see that. Now, let's go to the Highlights, and this is going to start to take the highlights down. Now, in looking at this image, it may look a bit odd to our eye, but let's turn the preview on and off. See what's happening? There is a broader dynamic range in the initial image, but once we utilize the Shadows and Highlights adjustments, you can see how we can start to compress all that dynamic range. This is taking it away from that photographic language and bringing it more into the realm of painting, and that's exactly what we want to do.
It's really kind of up to you to see where you want to adjust these. Some people will go to a very extreme like image where this does start to have a bit of a funny look to it. But again, if that's the vision you have for your painting, then that's the right setting for you. I'm not going to sit here and tell you what is a correct setting. For my eyes, something around in there, and I always like to kind of A-B it with the original to see what's happening. So something in that realm is what I like, and so now I've got a nice starting point from which I'm going to begin to paint the image with the colors already in a form that is amenable to a painting.
A shadow/highlight adjustment may appear odd to our eyes, but remember, that we see this the way as our gaze continuously changes and adapts while we survey an entire image. The artist typically uses these localized adjustments in determining the tonal values that make up a total painting.
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