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About shadows/highlights (example pics included)

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As some of you know, the shadows/highlights feature added to Photoshop premium versions CS2 and newer and the last few versions of Photoshop Elements offers a great way to bring out detail in the shadows and highlights that otherwise might be lost, or that would take a lot more work in levels to accentuate.

Here is an image shot an hour ago of a swan on the Shagawa River.

Please don't worry about the small differences in color between the two. Instead, look closely at the two and compare the differences in shadow/highlight detail, particularly in the shadowed portions of the swan, as well as in the highlights in the swan and snow.

The first image is not altered other than selective sharpening on the swan and some color adjustment.

In the second image, I applied shadows/highlights to the highlights in the whole image to bring out the snow detail, leaving alone the shadows, and then applied the feature to the highlights of the bird by lassoing the bright portions. Then I lassoed the bird shadows and used the feature to bring out more detail in the shaded portion. I then lassoed the whole bird and sharpened it, then lassoed the shaded portion of the swan and desaturated blues and cyans to make the whites look whiter.

There are other images that could be used as somewhat better examples, but I figured this one would show enough of the changes to give you the idea. Clear differences are visible in the level of detail in the highlights on the swan's back and the snow, as well as the shadows in the swan.

You find the shadows/highlights feature by dragging down from the "image" menu, slecting "adjustments" and then "shadows/highlights." Like any other pp feature, it can be overused, and you can easily make an image look flat and lackluster if too much is applied. Lassoing and using the feature selectively can cut down on that. It should also be noted that the feature, in brightening shadow areas, will reveal fair amounts of digital noise that had been hidden, so lassoing those areas and applying a judicial amount of noise reduction may be in order. In this image it wasn't necessary, partly because it was shot at iso100 so noise was at a minimum and partly because the shadow areas I altered are not prominent elements of the image.

Anyway, S/H is such a great feature that for the last several months I've started to use it to some degree on almost every image I pp, whether nature, weddings, portraits, etc.

Exif isn't that important here, but here it is: Canon 30D, Canon 100-400L IS at 400mm, iso100, 1/500 at f71., handheld.

Image with no shadows/highlights applied


Image with shadows/highlights


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That is really great Steve. I've played with it some but not enough to be good at it. I think I'll start playing some more. It really made a difference in this image.

Thanks for tutorial.

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Good tutorial, Steve.

That was the only real difference I could find between Elements 1 and 3. Ever since I discovered this tool in Elements 3, I've been using it faithfully. However, I never even thought of making the adjustments selectively. Of course, it makes sense.

Thanks for the lesson.

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Ok. I'm at home with my laptop.

Nothing fancy. Just did a quick shadow/highlights on 1 picture. Didn't want to spend alot of time on this pic. (took about 45 seconds...LOL..) wanted just to show you generally what the shadow/highlights can really do for you.





Notice how I played with the shadow, it really brings up the "shape" of the snow that had been walked on, sled on, etc. While the original doesn't show all that much.

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