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- 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
Skill Level Intermediate
So far in this chapter, we have highlighted a few different adjustment layers which we can use which allow us to improve the quantity and the quality in the color of the light in our photographs. Yet in this movie, rather than focusing in on adjustment layers, I'm going to show you another helpful technique for working with light. In order to do this technique effectively, we need to copy the background layer. That will give us a bit of flexibility. So drag that background layer to the New Layer icon, and let's go ahead and name this new layer Shadows and Highlights.
You can rename the layer by simply double-clicking in the layer name, and then typing out the new name there. Next, with this layer targeted, go ahead and navigate to the Image pull down menu. And here we'll choose Adjustments. We're going about three quarters of the way down to Shadows and Highlights. The reason why we're doing this on a separate layer is because there isn't an adjustment layer which gives us access to the Shadows/Highlights controls. So here let's click on that menu item, and that will launch our Shadows and Highlights controls.
Alright, well with this photograph, you can see that we have the ability to dial in shadows and also highlights. Let's bring this value all the way down to zero, so we can start to understand how these sliders actually work. As we increase the Shadows slider, you can see we're bringing in more detail into the shadow area of the photograph. You can see how it's as if we're lighting that part of the picture. With the highlights as we increase this, you're going to see it's going to darken those highlights. And here it's darkening up some of those background elements.
Now when you go too far with this, things will just look a little bit strange. So you do need to be careful with these sliders. Incrementally bring each of these up, so you can then dial in the effect. Now you can click on the Preview checkbox. Here's the before, and now here's the after. You can also gain more precise control by clicking on Show More Options. When you do this, the menu expands. So we have a box for our Shadows, a box for the Highlights, and another Adjustments to compensate for the way it affects the color.
Let's start off at the top with our Shadows. Notice the amount slider. That's the same one that we've had before. Underneath, Tonal Width. This determines how far this reaches into different tones or how much it affects other areas of the photograph. Drag to the right and it will increase more of the photograph. Drag to the left and it will increase less. The radius determines the edge area of what's being affected. Sometimes to make a little bit more of a natural look, I find that increasing the radius just a little bit more can help. The same thing can be said for our highlights.
Here you can see how it's primarily effecting the highlights in the background. As we change the Tonal Width, it's affecting more or less of those areas. And then the Radius, that's the edge detail that it's going to have. Is it a defined edge or is a little bit of a softer edge. Again in my experience with working with this dialogue, I find that having the Radius a touch higher tends to help out and make it look a little bit more natural. Then with the Color Correction, if we bring this back to zero, you can see that we've lost some color. But as we increase this, we'll bring back a little bit more of that color saturation.
Mid Tone Contrast, we'll just bring back a little bit of texture or mid tone snap to those areas that we brightened up. Alright, well there you can see we've improved this photograph by using these sliders. Here's the before, and then now here's the after. And we did that by focusing in on the shadows, bringing back some shadow detail. The highlights, darkening the highlights. And then some adjustments to add a bit more color and a bit more contrast to the midtones. When you're ready to apply these adjustments, click OK.
Now because we made these adjustments to a duplicate layer, we now have a lot of flexibility. Here we can turn this on and off. We can decide if we actually like this or we can decrease the opacity if we went a little bit too far and we just want maybe a little bit of a snap there, we can decrease this down to 50% it's not quite so dramatic. We can also combine this adjustment with our other techniques and tools which we already know how to use. For example, we could create a curves adjustment. Here I'll click on the Curves Adjustment Layer icon and I'll brighten this up a little bit, and then add our s curve and darken that down.
In doing that, you can see how we have this subtle little adjustment here. Looks like perhaps I can't darken that as much as I would like, so I'll just make a really subtle adjustment. And now it's a combination of all of these together, which is helping us to create this particular look. If we wanted to target some colors and bring out some of those sunset colors, well we know how to do that. Click on Color Balance. And here, we can add a little bit of reds and yellows in order to warm this up and to make this photograph even more inviting.
While this particular technique is helpful, it's another way to be able to target different areas of your photograph and to make adjustments as we've done here. One of the things that I've noticed with this particular tool is that if you make too strong of adjustments, it can introduce some noise or some problems to your photographs. So just keep an eye out for those and know that if you make an adjustment which is too strong, it may degrade part of the photograph That's why you may need to go to that layer and perhaps lower that opacity to sort of blend it in to your other adjustment.
Or use some of the other techniques as we've seen here in order to finish off your photograph.