Home How-To Image Processing Tame The Contrast Monster
Monday, March 31, 2008

Tame The Contrast Monster

Control the light in your photo with the Shadows/Highlights adjustment

The problem with erasing is that you can't put something back that you've erased except by using the History palette. With a layer mask, you can remove a part of the picture, put it back, remove another part, put that back and so on, as much as you want without any effect on the quality of the image.

contrast monster
contrast monster
Mask Control. Create a new layer mask by clicking the layer mask button at the bottom of the Layers palette.
Paint It Black. Black has been used in the layer mask. It was painted over the giraffe and over the bottom edge of the photo (at a reduced opacity) to remove the effect of Shadows/Highlights in those areas.
Add a layer mask to any layer in Photoshop through the Layers menu or by clicking on the layer mask icon at the bottom of the Layers palette (this is the little icon of a rectangle with a circle inside). The layer mask appears as a white box to the right of the icon for your layer.

Use a layer mask by painting black or white in that mask. The black blocks anything from occurring in that layer. White allows anything in that layer to appear. Think of white as transparent and black as black paint. The layer mask only affects what's in an actual layer, so black or white only affects what that layer can or can't do.

So in the case of a pixelled Shadows/Highlights layer, simply paint black over areas where you don't want this Shadows/Highlights effect to occur or paint white where you do want it to occur. If you start seeing white or black or any other color appear on your picture itself, it means that you're painting on the pixels rather than in the layer mask. You need to click in the layer mask and then continue painting.

No matter how you use the Shadows/Highlights tool, you'll find it to be a helpful and essential tool for the photographer. It will help you get more from your photography.


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