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So far, we've taken a look at how we can burn and dodge using the Burn and Dodge tools or how we can create a new layer and change the Blending mode to Soft Light and paint with black or white or a dark or a bright hue and how we can change the way our image appears. Well here what I want to do is take a look at how we can work with selections, curves, and masking in order to darken or brighten our images. Well, this particular photograph, I really like the moment. I like the moment of the mother and the daughter, the mother and the bride.
Yet, one of the things that I notice is that this image could use a little bit of work in regards to its contrast and brightness. In particular, there are some highlights on the bride's face that I want to bring down. In order to select those, I am going to navigate to Select and use Color Range. Now typically, you think of Color Range for selecting colors, yet it's great at also selecting things like highlights. Here I will choose Highlights and you can see it's giving me a pretty good selection of these different highlights here.
Let's go ahead and click OK in order to apply that selection. Well now that we've created that selection, you can see that indeed primarily, we have these different highlights throughout the image. Now if you want to refine the selection, what you can do is select one of your other Select tools. That was a bit of a tongue twister there. Well, once you have another Select tool, you can go to Refine Edge. Now with Refine Edge, it shows me the strange yet helpful view, here it's all of these highlight areas.
Well if I want to soften out the edges a little bit so it's not quite so harsh, I can increase my Feather amount, and typically that's a good idea. So to reiterate, we first go to Select > Color Range, target the highlights, then we choose the Select tool and we refine the edge. Next, we'll just click OK. So really, all that we've done so far is sampled or selected these highlights. Next, I want to adjust those. To do that, we're going to go ahead and click on our Curves icon.
This will open up a curves adjustment with that mask on it. Well now here what I can do is click- and-drag down my top bright point here. I can also decrease the midtones a little bit. Let me exaggerate this. It will look bad but it will help you understand how this works. If I go too far, you can really see how it's creating this selection or adjustment here on this area. To soften that even more, we want to go to the Mask, and we want to increase the Feather amount. As we do that, you can see that the transition from bright to dark, well it's not as dramatic.
Now, I obviously exaggerated this, so I need to go back to my curve, and here what I want to do is bring that to a more appropriate place. The beauty of working with curves when it comes to burning and dodging is that I can also add color into this area. We could go into the Red Channel, and with the Target Adjustment tool, hover over that, and then click-and-drag up to add just a little bit of red into that area. We could also go to the Blue/Yellow channel and then click-and-drag down with that tool selected as well, and by doing this we, can color correct the area that we're burning and dodging.
It can be amazing, it can totally change the way we burn and dodge. Well, let's look at the progress. Here we have that before, too bright, now we have that after; that looks nice. If ever we've brought in a darkening effect to areas that we don't want to, well just Option or Alt+Click on your mask, and this will show you this perspective of all of the different areas you're affecting. If, for example, you don't want to affect the hair, well just grab your brush, and then go ahead and paint with black, and here I will decrease my Brush Opacity, and also decrease my Brush Size, that brush was way too big, and then I can paint over this to conceal the adjustment from that area, so it won't be as strong.
Option or Alt+Click on your mask and you will see what I mean. You can kind of paint this away from different areas if you want those other areas to be bright. With this image I think it's nice to bring down a lot of those highlights; so again, our before and after well it's doing a pretty good job. If we want to add more to this, double- click the Adjustment layer icon, and then you can go ahead and bring your curves adjustment down even further. Well now that we've removed a lot of the highlights, the other thing I want to do is bring some brightness into the photograph. To do that, I'll click on the Curves Adjustment layer icon and I am just going to click in the middle and drag up.
I'm doing that because I want to brighten the mom's face. Currently, this mask, it's revealing all of our brightening effect. So what we need to do is to go to the mask. Here I will click Invert. By inverting that mask, we're concealing or hiding all of the brightening. Next, we'll paint this in. We'll paint in our dodging effect. So in a sense what we're doing is we're dodging and burning like we could do traditionally in the darkroom, but now we even have more control.
So here I'm just brightening this up by painting back-and-forth over this area, and I'll go ahead and brighten up a little bit of the bride's face as well with a touch there, and a little bit on this side just to bring in some focus to that area. In this adjustment layer, really it's just about that brightening which is bringing some focus into this part of the frame. Let me zoom out a little bit so you can see this picture from a zoomed out perspective. Here you can see that before and now our after. Well, we're definitely improving the image.
And as we make these changes, we may also want to make other adjustments as well like another Curves Adjustment that allows us to reduce the Contrast, click-and-drag down your top highlight point, and also your bottom point. By having a curved line which is less steep, we now have a little bit less contrast. So this little adjustment basically just kind of softens the overall image a bit. Now, as you make all of these adjustments, you almost always want to go back to your other adjustments, and just modify those so that you can dial these all in so that they work well together.
So you have that brightening effect or darkening or whatever it is. So let's zoom back in on this image, and let's evaluate the overall result that we have here. If we click-and-drag on the eye icon, you can see there is our before, and now here is our after. And I am aware that what we've done here is pretty advanced. Yet, what I'm hoping is, is that you've watched those other movies on masking and working with curves, and that now you're really starting to see how you can put together all of these different pieces in order to use these tools to be able to burn and dodge in a different way.
Now what technique is best? Is it best to use the Burn and Dodge tools or the Soft Light blending technique or Curves? Well there never is one technique which is best, rather, you want to know all of these different techniques because with certain images, certain techniques work perfectly, with other images, you kind of need to go searching for just the right tool or technique in order to correct it. Yet, perhaps most importantly, knowing how to burn and dodge effectively really is an art and a craft. It's about learning how to think about light and shadow in order to work with light and shadow in order to create more compelling and engaging photographs.
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