Join Chris Orwig for an in-depth discussion in this video Correcting exposure with a gradient mask, part of Photoshop for Photographers: Lighting Effects.
In this movie, I wanted to provide one more example of how we can use gradient masks, in order to improve the lighting in our photographs. And this time, we'll be working with a portrait. Here I'm going to zoom in a little bit closer on this portrait, so that we can evaluate it a little more. You'll notice that there is a brighter side and a darker side. And what I want to do is even this out. There is a window off to the left over here. And you can see it's illuminating the subject. But I want to darken this area. So again, we have a little bit more of an even lighting pattern across this image.
To do that, we'll go ahead and click on our adjustment layer icon for curves. And here, I'm going to click and drag this down. Now, it will be near impossible to know how far to go with the curve adjustment, until we've created the mask. So sometimes what I like to do, is even exaggerate this. So that it looks really horrible. I know it's overdone here. But this will help me once I start to work with the gradient effect. Here we'll go ahead then, and click on the gradient tool. You can find that in the Tools panel, or you can press the g key, to select it.
You want to make sure that you have white and black, as your foreground and background colors. And what I like to do is to choose white as my foreground, black as my background. Because then you can click, and start in the area where you want to affect. And then let go where you want that effect to stop. If you click and drag a short distance as we've seen, you'll have a really small transition area. If you click and drag over a longer area, you'll have a longer transition. Now, once you've started to bring in that gradient, you'll want to customize this.
And what I'm looking to do is to try to have even brightness here, in the background. Sometimes you can even bring down your top white point, and if you want to add a little bit of a darker white point there on this side. Because that is so much brighter there as well. And I'm just going to bring down these values And then click on the eye icon. You can see here's our before. Click again. And then, you can see the after. And if we look up in this area, you can really see how bright this was over here. And now how this side is a little bit darker, and it creates a bit more of an even look.
And I think a more natural and inviting look in this portrait. And so sometimes, as you're working with gradients masks, you'll get really creative. And modify color and tone in dramatic ways. In other situations, it may be a really simple and easy way to modify a larger area of your photograph, as we have done here. Simply by creating an adjustment, and then by adding a gradient mask. Which allows us to modify one part of the image, and not the other.
- Creating a more expressive photograph with Camera Raw
- Correcting under- and overexposure
- Improving light in certain areas of an image with masks and the Radial Filter
- Painting in brightness with Curves and masking
- Correcting exposure with a gradient mask
- Brightening and darkening with blend modes
- Working with the Burn and Dodge tools
- Adding light and multiple colors with the Lighting Effects filter
- Creating a realistic glow