PS Tutorial: Shadow / Highlight Recovery

Started Aug 9, 2004 | Discussions thread
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David Chin Forum Pro • Posts: 11,670
PS Tutorial: Shadow / Highlight Recovery

I can't live without this tool. Not only does it help recover underexposed pics, it also does a good job to improve the amounts of highlights and shadows that appear in the image, giving an impression that the pic had better lighting illuminating the scene.

This series is but one example. I'm hoping that more will come forth and share tips and tricks to add to this "tutorial". What makes this tutorial particularly limiting is that the values used for Shadow and Highlight treatment may vary depending on the size of the image - any filter which has a setting for Radius or Tonal Width inevitably do - so, practice and use judgement.

The original pic, resized. I felt that it was OK colour-wise, but the shirt was too bright, and her face would look better if it was a bit brighter. This is important - perform colour balance / cast corrections first before using this tool. Somebody might dispute this - it'll be great if I can be corrected, we're all learning here.

Step 2 - Call up the S/H tool. Notice how bad the default settings are (sometimes they work though - depends on the pic)

Step 3 - Fine-tune Shadow Radius

Step 4 - Fine-tune Shadow Amount and Tonal Width. No golden rules - depends on the image:

Step 5 - Attack the highlights, be careful not to overdo it

Step 6 - Adjust Midtone Contrast and Color Correction. Reevaluate if Shadows and Highlights need to be fine-tuned further.

Apply USM 500, 0.2, 0, the Fade (Ctrl-Shift-F) to 40%, Luminosity Blend - again - USM values depend on the image.

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