Seven Steps For A Better Image
Use these techniques to get the most out of even the trickiest exposures
Step 3. Drag And Erase
When you try this technique, the next step is to drag one file on top of the other file, giving you a two-layer image. To line up the pictures exactly, hold down the Shift key during the dragging process.
Using the Eraser tool (with a soft brush selected), erase the undesirable shadow or undesirable highlight areas (depending which is the top layer). The result of your erasing should result in an image that looks like the scene when you took the image. That's because our eyes have a much greater dynamic range (about 11 ƒ-stops) than any digital camera image sensor.
In this example, after my careful erasing, I could clearly see the detail in the shadows and in the sky.
For a smooth erasing process, with the Eraser tool selected, go to the Option Bar and set the Opacity relatively low, say to about 25 percent. That way, the erasing will happen slowly and gradually, and you'll have more control over blending the two areas.
After you're pleased with your double-processed image, flatten the two layers (Layer > Flatten Image).
Step 4. Look For What's Lacking In Your Image
At this point, take your hand off your mouse or put down your stylus. Think! Think about what's lacking in the image-contrast, color, saturation, brightness, sharpness. In my photograph, I thought contrast was lacking. So I went to Image > Adjustment > Brightness/Contrast and boosted the Contrast, just a bit, directly on the image.
Photoshop pros, however, know that using Adjustment Layers (Layer > New Adjustment Layer) is recommended over making adjustments directly on a file because you aren't making the adjustment directly to your original image, but rather on an additional layer that can be edited or deleted without affecting your original pixels. See the sidebar for more about Adjustment Layers.
Step 5. Apply Your Personal Enhancements
Ever since Kodak and Fuji introduced super-saturated films, I've loved pictures with saturated colors. To boost the saturation of my image, I went to Image > Adjustment > Hue/Saturation and boosted the saturation to bring out the green grass around the remains of the city.
You may like a less-saturated image or one with more contrast or even a different color (more blue, for example, for a cooler picture). The choice is yours!