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In this movie, we are going to have a little bit of fun. And here we're going to look at how we can improve the lighting and the color in this photograph, by working with adjustment layers, masks, and gradients. One of the things that I want to do with this picture is, I want to brighten up the foreground here. I want to brighten up the wave and also bring out the green color that we have in that area. I also want to add a little bit more blue in this background color as well. Well to do that, we'll be creating two different curves adjustments. I'll be looking at how we can apply a gradient mask to each of these adjustments.
Let's begin by working on this area here. We'll go ahead and click on our adjustment layer icon for curves. What I want to do first, you just click and drag this up in order to add a little bit of a brightening effect to the overall photograph. Then, I'm going to pay close attention to the color. And here, I'm going to go down to my different channels, starting with the Red/Cyan channel. And I'm going to click and drag down to add a little bit more cyan to that area of the picture. Then we'll go to the Green or the green-magenta channels, I like to think of it, and drag up to add a little bit more green.
Alright. Well, if we click on the eye icon, you can see we've affected the overall image, adding a little bit of this color tint that we have here and also this brightening effect. Well, I don't want this to affect the entire photograph. So for a moment, I'm going to close or tuck away the Properties panel there. Then, I'm going to grab or reach for the Gradient Tool. When you select the Gradient Tool, it will build a gradient based on your foreground, and your background colors. You can see that up here in the options bar.
If I click on the Toggle switch, notice how it gives me a black and white option here, and I can change the orientation of this. And you'll see that flip up top here, in the options bar. Well, it doesn't really matter which way you have, but just for demo purposes, let's go ahead and start with white. So we're going white to black. By starting with white, what we can then do, is click in this area, and then drag up near the top, and then let go. So that we now have an adjustment which is primarily affecting the lower portion of the image.
Here you can see the before and after as I click this on and off. Now, if you click and drag a short distance, you'll see there will be a really harsh transition. If you click and drag a long distance it will create a smoother or a softer transition area. So you may need to click and drag a few times, because you can also experiment a little bit with the angle, until you get it just right. So that you have this brightening effect being applied to the subject here, and primarily just illuminating the foreground of the image and adding a bit more of a green tint to that part of the photograph.
Alright, well we have corrected and enhanced that area of the image. Now let's work on the background. To work on that area, we'll do something very similar. We'll click on our adjustment layer icon. Here we're going to go ahead and just darken this, so I'll click and drag this down a little bit. And then, I'm going to go into my different channels, beginning with the Blue channel. We'll click into the Blue channel, go ahead and select that. And then drag that one up a little bit. That will add some nice blue in that area. Of course, this is currently affecting everything, right? Which isn't very good.
So once again, with the Gradient Tool, we will create a gradient mask which will limit how this is affecting the photograph. Because we have white as our foreground color, we want to start to click in the area where we want the effect to take place, up here. And then we'll drag and then let go, where we want it to stop. In this case, again, you can see how we have this sort of fun adjustment, which is affecting the top portion of the image and it isn't affecting the lower portion. And so here we are able to, really quickly, change the overall characteristics and the lighting and the color in this photograph, by creating what's called a gradient mask.
And you can use gradient mask in order to make corrections or enhancements in all sorts of different types of photographs. Now before we wrap up our conversation with this photograph, I do want to highlight one thing. I want to show you one way that you can preview your mask. Here, if you hold down the Option key on a Mac, Alt on Windows, you can then click on the mask, and it will show you a black and white version of that mask. Notice that as I click and drag to create the gradient, a short distance, I have a short transition, or a long distance, and I have a bigger transition.
Well sometimes you may have a particular gradient like this. You may realize that you need it to be a little bit softer. One way to do that is to double-click the mask, to open up the Mask tab here in the Properties panel and then to increase the Feather. Notice that as I increase the Feather, what it's doing is its giving me a larger transition area. So, I have pure white and then grey, and then all the way down to black. In this way, sometimes it can help you just to soften out the transition, if you need to do so.
Alright. Well let's Option or Alt+Click on the mask icon. Option+Click on a Mac, Alt+Click on Windows, then let's use the Feather slider, and you can see how we can have that change here. And create a little bit of a softer transition, so that, that looks a bit better. Well, there you have it. A few techniques that you can use which will help you to improve the light and color in your photographs. Which all revolve around working with an adjustment layer in a mask and then building a custom gradient mask, as you can see in this photograph, with our before and then our after.
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