When you're working with an adjustment layer, a selection can come in really handy. It can both limit the area to which the adjustment applies and it can affect the pixels that you are taking into account by the adjustment. To show you what I mean, I have an image here that has this photograph and this frame all on one layer. I would like to lighten the photograph, without affecting the frame. So I'm going to start out by going to the Toolbox and making a selection around the photograph. I'll get my Rectangular Marquee tool, I'll come into the image and I'll click and drag a selection around the photograph in the image. With that selection active, I'm now going to add an adjustment layer. I'll use one of the Curves preset adjustments by going to the Curves Presets in the Adjustments panel, clicking the arrow there and moving down and selecting the Lighter Curves Preset.
Now take a look in the Layers panel and you'll see that there is a new Curves adjustment layer and that it has a layer mask thumbnail that's already been filled in with black and white. I'm going to hold on the Option key, that's the Alt key on a PC and click on that layer mask thumbnail, to show the layer mask here in the document window. As you can see, where there was an active selection, the layer mask is white, revealing the Curves adjustment. But outside of that selection, the layer mask is black, hiding the Curves adjustment from the image. So I'm going to go back to the Layers panel and Option-click or Alt-click again on that layer mask thumbnail. And to show you, how this adjustment would look, of it was affecting the entire image, this time I'm going to hold down the Shift key and click on the layer mask thumbnail to temporarily deactivate it.
Now you can see this Curves adjustment on the entire image. It's lightening not only the photo but also the frame. But when I Shift-click again on that layer mask thumbnail, you can see how it leaves the frame dark and just lightens the photograph in the middle. The selection did one more thing. If you look at the Adjustment panel, you'll notice that there's a graph here, behind the Curves. This graph is called a histogram. And I'll be talking about this histogram in much more detail in later movies. But what I do want you to realize at this point is that because I made a selection of just the photograph in this image, before I created this Curves adjustment layer, this histogram here, is taking account of only the area that was inside that selection, not the area outside that selection.
So as you can see a selection can be very powerful when you're working with adjustment layers. Now what happens if you created an adjustment layer and you hadn't yet made a selection? You could still use a selection to limit the coverage of the adjustment layer. To show you that, with the Curves layer selected, I'm going to go up to the Adjustments panel and click the trashcan and then click yes to delete that adjustment layer. Now this time, I'm going to create a similar adjustment but without making a selection first. So I'll go up to the Adjustments panel and I'll go to the Curves Presets and again I'll choose Lighter. That creates the Curves adjustment layer with a layer mask that's completely white meaning that the Curves adjustment is affecting the entire image. And the histogram in the Adjustment panel looks different then it did a few moments ago because it's taking into account the entire image, the frame as well as the photograph.
Next, I'm going to get my Rectangular Marquee tool, come into the image and click and drag a selection around just the photograph. What I would like to do is to select everything except the photograph so that I can hide the adjustment from everything except the photograph in the image. So I'm going to go up to the Select menu and I'm going to choose Inverse, and that inverts this selection so that everything except the photograph is selected. Then I'm going to fill that selected area by going up to the Edit menu and down to Fill. And I'll choose to use black to fill this selection. I'll click OK and then I'll deselect by going to the Select menu and choosing Deselect. And you can see that I now have a layer mask that's very much the same as the layer mask that I started out with at the beginning of this lesson when I had made the selection before creating the adjustment layer.
So you can do it either way and you get the same effect, both on the layer mask thumbnail and in the histogram inside the Curves Adjustment panel.
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