You can control exactly which parts of a photo are affected by an Adjustment layer, using the Layer Mask that comes with every Adjustment layer. To show you that I'm going to add an Adjustment layer to this photo, because I want to brighten up and increase the contrast in the foreground elements, but I want to leave the sky as it is. I like the detail in the clouds there. To add an Adjustment layer, I'll go to the top of the Layers panel, I'll click the black and white circle, and I'll choose Levels. The histogram in the levels Adjustment layer is referencing the entire image, and so it looks like there is content over on the bright side of the histogram, as well as the dark part.
But, I'm interested only in this foreground area, and it doesn't have enough bright areas. So despite the histogram, I'm going to take the White triangle and Drag over to the left until the barn looks good to me. And then I'll do the same with the black triangle. Then I'll take the grey triangle and I'll drag to the left slightly to brighten up the barn. And then I'll close the Adjustments panel. I like the effect of that adjustment on the barn and the other foreground elements, but notice that it's blown out all the detail in the clouds and in the snow-capped mountains.
To bring that back I'm going to hide the adjustment from those areas. And I'll do that by adding black paint to the Layer mask thumbnail that comes with my Adjustment layer. We talked about layer masks earlier in the course in the context of making composites. And I told you that you can add black paint to a Layer mask. On a photo to hide part of that photo from view. Well, the same is true of Adjustment layers. Adding black paint to the Layer mask on an Adjustment layer, will hide the adjustment from the corresponding area. And adding grey paint to a layer mask will partially hide the adjustment.
So let's do that. Now, there are several ways that I could add black paint to this Adjustment layer mask. One way would be to do it with the Brush tool, or I could do it with the Gradient tool as I showed you earlier in the course. In this case, I think the fastest way would be to quickly select the sky and just fill that area of the mask with black. So, lets try that. I'm going to use my Quick Selection tool, and then I'll move over the image and I'll click and drag over the sky. That does a pretty good job of selecting just the sky, and the white capped mountains.
I could spend time refining this selection, but I'm just going to leave it rough for now. And then I'll make sure that I have the layer mask thumbnail on the levels adjustment layer selected. It has a light blue border around it, when it is selected. Then, I'll go to the Edit menu, I'll choose Fill Selection. I'll go to the Use menu in the Fill Layer dialogue box that opens and I'll choose Black. And I'll click OK. That's filled the selected area on the layer mask with black. And that black paint is hiding the levels adjustment from the corresponding areas of the photo.
I'm going to deselect, pressing Ctrl+D on the PC or Cmd+D on the Mac. And that's the result. There's one more thing I want to do. I'd like the adjustment to be only partially visible on the lower parts of the mountains, because they look a little washed out to me. So I'm going to take my Brush tool. I'll make sure that I have black as my foreground color, by clicking this double-pointed arrow. If the foreground color chip is not black and then I'll go to my Brush settings and I'm going to lower the opacity of the brush about half way. Because I have black as my foreground color, lowering the opacity of the brush will allow me to paint with grey on the layer mask.
I still have that layer mask thumbnail selected, I'll move into the image and I'll paint with grey on the mountains. And as you can see that's changing the effect on the mountains. Letting it partially adjust their appearance. If we take a look at the layer mask by holding down the Alt key on the PC or the Option Key on the mac, you can see what the mask looks like. Where the mask is black it's hiding the effect of the Adjustment layer. Where the mask is white it's allowing the effect of the Adjustment layer. And where the mask is grey, it's only partially allowing that effect to apply to the image.
I'm going to hold the Alt key, the Option key on the Mac, again, and click Back on the layer mask thumbnail to go back to the regular view of the photo. Just to see a before and after I'll click the Eye icon on and off on my Adjustment layer. So that's how the photo looked when we started, and here's the photo with my levels adjustment, applied just to the foreground elements and partially to the lower mountains.
- 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
Skill Level Beginner
1. Importing Photos
2. Streamlined Photo Editing
3. Expert Editing Basics
4. Changing Size and Composition in Expert Edit
5. Working with Layers in Expert Edit
6. Using Selections and Masks in Expert Edit
7. Correcting Photos in Expert Edit
8. Processing in Camera Raw
9. Managing Photos in the Organizer
10. Working with Missing Files and Folders in the Organizer
11. Working with Virtual Albums in the Organizer
12. Keyword Tagging in the Organizer
13. Organizing Photos by People, Events, and Place
14. Sharing and Printing Photos
Setting up color management6m 30s
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