Join Jan Kabili for an in-depth discussion in this video Improving shadow and highlights using Shadow/Highlight, part of Photoshop Elements 10 Essential Training.
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The Shadows/Highlight adjustment is one of the most powerful in the Full Photo Edit workspace, because it lets you adjust shadow and highlight areas of a photo separately. It comes in really handy for photos like this that are backlit. Unfortunately Shadows/Highlights is not an adjustment layer, it's only available as a direct adjustment right on the photo. So before you apply it, you may want to make a copy of the layer that contains the photo, so you have one that doesn't get changed. I'll drag the background layer down to the bottom of the Layers panel and I'm going to drop in on top of the make new layer icon right here, the icon with a folded up corner, and that's a shortcut for making a copy of a layer.
I'll make sure I have the background copy layer selected, and then I'll apply a shadow highlight adjustment by going up to the Enhance menu and down to Adjust Lighting and over to Shadows/Highlights. That opens the Shadows/Highlights dialog box. Here there are separate sliders that I can use to lighten the shadow areas, darken the highlight areas and tweak the contrast and the midtones. By default the Lighten Shadow slider is dragged over to 25% and that's already having an impact on this photo.
Opening up the foreground element, so we can see more the detail in the building, to remind you of how this looked without any adjustments I'll uncheck Preview. So at this point it was pretty much unusable and now it's heading in the right direction. The building is still a bit dark, so I'm going to lighten the shadows which means lighten the dark areas of the photo even further by dragging the Lighten Shadows slider over to the right even more. You won't always go this far with the slider, but this is a pretty extreme example. One of the things I really like about this adjustment is that lightening the shadows like that it had very little impact on the brightest areas the clouds here and here.
If I do want to impact the bright areas, I'll use this slider the Darken Highlight slider. As I dragged that slider to the right, I'm darkening the brightest areas of the photo that's bringing back a little more detail in the clouds and is making them more dramatic. Moving these sliders can sometimes make the midtones look a little muddy and so I have a Midtone Contrast slider that I can use to work on that problem. Dragging Midtone Contrast to the right makes the midtones in the image look more crisp. So that is imperfect, but it's a lot better than where I started.
I'll uncheck Preview again to remind you that this is the image I started with and this is the image I ended up with by applying this shadows highlights adjustment. I'll click OK and if I change my mind about this adjustment I can always delete this background copy layer and get back to my original.
- Importing photos from a camera, computer, or iPhoto library
- Adding keyword tags and ratings to photos
- Automatically tagging people
- Organizing photos into albums
- Renaming and moving photos
- Correcting common photo problems automatically
- Retouching photos of friends and family
- Adjusting lighting and color
- Working with layers and layer masks
- Converting photos to black-and-white
- Cropping and straightening photos
- Adding text to photos
- Working with raw photos
- Making a slideshow
- Ordering prints