Here’s a breakdown of the workflow. Duplicate your background layer and call it Shadows and Highlights. From the menu, go to Images > Adjustments > Shadows/Highlights. Ignore the built-in default settings and check the box Show More Options (Fig. 2a). Set everything in both sections labeled Shadows/Highlights to 0. Leave the setting in Adjustments at 20. We’re going to set this as the default by clicking the Set As Default button. In the future, the Shadows/Highlights adjustment will come up leaving an image visually unchanged until you make adjustments to it (Fig. 2b).
Open up the dark portions of the image, as those are the areas of concern. In the Shadows section, put in 40% for the Amount. It may start to look blotchy, but don’t worry about it; that’s what we want. Pay attention to the concerned areas of your image; slide the Tonal Width over until you see these areas go flat in contrast or become blotchier. The Tonal Width slider controls the tones the adjustment will act on. Moving it too far to the right will cause your midtones to open up along with your darker tones. If this happens, move your slider back to the left, reducing the effect in the lighter tones. The Radius, or magic slider, brings it all back. Slide it to the right, and as you do so, look at your image. The contrast slowly comes back; at your discretion, stop when it looks good. The Radius brings back the contrast of the image. There’s a tendency for halos to develop during this process. You can reduce the halos by further adjusting the Radius amount. Fine-tune it at this point. Decrease the amount if the lightening is too strong (Fig. 3).
To recover information in the light areas, repeat these steps. Put 40% in for the Amount. Slide the Tonal Width to the right until it appears a little flat in the areas you’re concerned about. Watch these areas. Slide the Radius to the right; when these areas clear up, stop. Increase or decrease the amount as needed.
Black & White Adjustment Layer In Photoshop CS5
Working in the digital world, it’s almost a given that your images are going to start out their life in full-blown color. We want to take those color images into the elegant world of black-and-white. A brilliant tool that eases this transition, introduced in Photoshop CS3, the Black & White adjustment layer has been refined further in Photoshop CS5. It’s a visual and more intuitive way of converting color images to black-and-white. This new adjustment allows us to interpolate the different colors of an image to a gray value. A common way to do this prior to the new feature was to use the Channel mixer. A major drawback was that we quickly forgot what colors were in parts of our image without previewing it. Switching back and forth, constantly previewing the image, disrupts the creative process.
To begin, select the target adjustment tool from the Black & White Adjustment palette. Pressing the mouse over the area of the image we want to adjust, CS5 selects the underlying color’s slider for us. We then can darken the area by moving the mouse to the left and lighten the area by moving the mouse to the right. The color slider in the Black & White adjustment layer changes according to the color you clicked on. It’s as easy as point and click (Fig. 4).
Here, we make adjustments to the image that are regional. In my image of Lake Tahoe, I made two regional adjustments. First, I started with a Curves adjustment layer and a layer mask (Fig. 5). I then placed the Curves adjustment layer into a Group where I added a layer mask with a gradient (Fig. 6).
I do this to keep the creation and future adjustments to my layer mask simple. By grouping the Curves adjustment layer, I now combine the effects of two layer masks (Fig. 7).
The second regional adjustment is a Curves adjustment layer with a layer mask that lightens the shoreline (Fig. 8).