Easy-to-follow video tutorials help you learn software, creative, and business skills.Become a member
In this movie, we are going to take a look at how we can use a powerful image adjustment tool and that tool is called Shadows and Highlights. We will be working with two photographs so that we can see how this adjustment works in different scenarios. We will start off with this image here and to work with this adjustment we need to copy the background or original layer. So let's do that by way of a shortcut, press Command+J on the Mac or Ctrl+J on Windows, and let's name this new layer, corrections because we'll be applying some tonal corrections to the photograph.
What I want to do with this image is I actually want to darken up the face a little bit. The highlights there are too bright. As I want to change the overall contrast or midtone contrast in the photograph, so let's navigate to the Image pulldown menu, next choose Adjustments, and then finally down near the bottom we will select Shadows/Highlights. Now Shadows/Highlights has a default setting, which boosts the shadows. You can see that here, to bringing light into that shadow area. That's not what I want to do, so I'm going to decrease that amount.
What I want to do is work on my highlights. By clicking and dragging this to the right, you can see that I can darken those highlights. Let me exaggerate this, it won't look good, but let me just exaggerate for a moment. You can see how I can really darken those areas. Well, when I do that you can also see that it's changing the overall color. Again, I have gone too far but I've done this to kind of illustrate how you can fix this issue. If you click on Show More Options, all of a sudden you have all of these controls. At first glance, they may seem confusing but notice that they're grouped.
Here are my Shadows, here are my Highlights, then down below we have some Adjustments. In regards to the Highlights, what we can do is we can control the overall Amount. We can also control the Tonal Width; that is how far this is reaching into other tones. As I click and drag this up, notice how it's also darkening the background a little bit as well. So here I can then dial this in so it's affecting the highlight and also little bit of the shadow. The Radius controls kind of the overall reach of that, or in other words how far that's extending out from the area of the highlights.
Next we have Color Correction. Click and drag to the right, more color, click and drag the left, less color. And by using this slider in combination with the other sliders, it will can help us come up with a nice way to process an image or fix exposure. Then we have midtone contrast. If I increase that it's going to darken that background there a little bit and also some of the other areas of the photograph. Now when we click on the Preview button, we can see here is our before and then click again, there is our after. Let's go ahead and click OK in order to apply that correction.
Well, whenever you do that what I like to do is I also like to change my overall blending mode. A blending mode that's helpful with adjustments like this is Luminosity. What this will do is it will ensure that you don't have any kind of exaggerated color shifts. Even if you've corrected it with those adjustments, I still find that this helps out and kind of removes any of those strange color casts. All right, well in this image we simply wanted to darken the area of the face a little bit. Let's also take a look at another example.
So here, I am going to go ahead and navigate to the other photograph. This image was captured by one of my students and it was captured in full sun, a lot of contrast. Yet he was trying to create this really high contrast type of a look, but then after the fact decided he wanted to soften that and he softened it using this adjustment. Let's explore how we can do that too. Again we copy the background layer by pressing Command+J on a Mac or Ctrl+J on Windows. Then we will go ahead and name this new layer. We will just name it corrections because we are going to apply those tonal corrections, and then we will go to Image > Adjustments and here we will select Shadows/Highlights.
When we do that, we can see that we have some controls, and let's start off with showing fewer options, so I will click on that checkbox there so that I can have fewer options. By default again Shadow/Highlights can help us boost those areas of our shadows; brightening up that part of the picture. Yet, I also want to darken some of the highlights. Here we can exaggerate this or we can just try to find just the right amount. Often when working with these type of adjustments as with other adjustments, it's kind of a nice idea to apply a little bit too much because you can always back it off your opacity slider and by having a little bit too much will it can then help you to be a bit more flexible after the fact.
Now if we turn on Show More Options, we can then customize this further in regards to our overall tonal widths and how far this is reaching into other parts of the picture and we can also work on color as well. All right, well, next click OK to apply that. Here we have our before and then now our after. Again here I went a little bit too far, yet before I decreased my opacity, I am going to change my blending mode to luminosity. This will help with any color issues. Then I will decrease the opacity and by decreasing opacity, I can then bring that up so that I can just kind of soften this effect rather than remove it altogether.
We still have a lot of contrast in the photograph. We have just diminished it a bit. We equalized the overall tonality. So, as you can see here, we can use Shadow/Highlights in more subtle or more dramatic situations, and we can use this either to bring detail into our shadows to brighten up the shadows or to darken the highlights.
Get unlimited access to all courses for just $25/month.Become a member
164 Video lessons · 54181 Viewers
64 Video lessons · 86233 Viewers
86 Video lessons · 55675 Viewers
148 Video lessons · 93025 Viewers
Access exercise files from a button right under the course name.
Search within course videos and transcripts, and jump right to the results.
Remove icons showing you already watched videos if you want to start over.
Make the video wide, narrow, full-screen, or pop the player out of the page into its own window.
Click on text in the transcript to jump to that spot in the video. As the video plays, the relevant spot in the transcript will be highlighted.
Your file was successfully uploaded.