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In this movie I'll show you how to correct an image that suffers from far too much contrast using the Shadows/Highlights command. I have opened an image called High- contrast pachyderm.jpg, and it's fairly low-quality image as you can see here, but it's not beyond hope. I've got the Histogram panel open again. When you're in this Colors display, you're seeing overlapping histograms for each of the channels; red, green, and blue, which for our purposes right now I consider to be a little confusing.
So I'm going to once again switch to Luminosity so we can just focus on the luminance info. And I'll go ahead and update the graph. Now we do have an awful lot of shadow detail and an incredible amount of highlight detail going on here and some very sunken midtones. However, the image is not beyond hope, because we have no spike at the outset of the graph on the far left side and the graph settles down on the far right-hand side. So we have very little in the way of clipped highlights. That means we can ultimately recover some luminance.
Now you might start by trying out Brightness/Contrast. I'll go ahead and click on the black white icon at the bottom of the panel and choose the Brightness/Contrast command. Well I'll just go ahead and start things off by reducing the Contrast value to its absolute minimum of -50. And that does help. I'll go and update the graph once again. We are pulling some of that information away from the edges toward the center of the graph, but it's not doing nearly enough. The fact of the matter is Brightness/ Contrast can only take you so far where an image like this is concerned.
So I'm going to hide the Properties panel and I'm going to press the Backspace key or the Delete key on the Mac in order to delete that Brightness/Contrast layer. And then if you're working along with me, go up to the Image menu, choose Adjustments, and choose Shadows/Highlights. Now you might reasonably ask, well, I thought Adjustment layers were so much better, why are we going to apply a static version of this command? And the reason is Shadows/ Highlights is not one of the functions that's available as an Adjustment layer. So we have to apply it as a static command.
So I'm going to go ahead and choose the command and you can see just by way of the default settings, which are to raise the Shadows by 35% and leave the Highlights unchanged, that we're already breathing a lot of life into that shadow detail. So the purpose of these sliders is, in the case of Shadows, to brighten the shadows and in the case of the Highlights, to dim down the highlights which ultimately take some of the heat out of highlights, breathes life into the shadow, contributes more to the midtones of the image, and reduces the contrast.
I'm going to click inside this Highlights value and press Shift+Up arrow a few times in order to darken up those highlights. I'm ultimately going to take that value up to 60%. Then I'm going to press Shift+Tab to go back to the Shadows value and I'll press Shift+Up arrow a few times to take that value up to 65%. This looks pretty darn good with the exception of the fact that we have some meandering colors that are showing up here. We can take care of that problem in a separate step.
So this looks about as good as it's going to get where Shadows/Highlights is concerned. The thing you have to watch for is that this command can end up creating this kind of glowing halos inside the highlight and shadow regions. If that happens, you've got some more controls that you can get access to by turning on the Show More Options check box and we'll explore these options in detail in a future course. But for now, go ahead and turn off the check box and we'll just work with these values here. Now click OK in order to apply that change.
Now whenever you apply a static adjustment, you can go back and modify how that adjustment blends with the original image by going up to the Edit menu and choosing the Fade command. But you have to choose this command immediately after applying the static adjustment. So I'll go ahead and choose it now. And the first thing I'm going to do to get rid of those aberrant colors is I'm going to switch the mode from Normal to Luminosity. That way we're modifying the luminance levels inside the image, not the colors.
As soon as I choose that command you can see that the colors settled down dramatically. Then I'm going to back off the effect by reducing the Opacity to let's say 70% looks pretty good, and then click OK. If you think better of what you just did, you can revisit that command by going up to the Edit menu and choosing the Fade command again and it will display your last applied settings. So at this point I could to say, you know, I think I want more like an opacity of 75% or what have you, and then click OK once again.
The thing you have to watch out for is performing some other operation, like if I so much as drag inside the image with a Rectangular Marquee tool and then press Ctrl+D or Command+D on the Mac in order to deselect the image, now when I go up to the Edit menu, the Fade command is dimmed. So again I stress, you have to apply that command immediately after the static adjustment. Now then take a look at this histogram. It's in far better shape. I'm going to click on the little warning icon there in order to update the graph.
We have better distributed highlights, we have better distributed shadows, and we have all kinds of midtone detail in between. And just to see what kind of difference we made, I'll go to the File menu and choose the Revert command or you can press the F12 key. That was the original version of the image with these very dark shadows underneath the animal's body, as well as this complete and utter blackness beyond the door; whereas, if I press Ctrl+Z or Command+Z on the Mac to reapply the adjustment, you can see that we've opened up the shadows considerably and we can actually see into the background.
And that's the power of the very simple to use Shadows/Highlights command here inside Photoshop.
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