The purpose of this lesson is to teach you a marvelous technique for
adjusting and localizing contrast.
Let' look at a simple "after" and "before" picture to illustrate what we
are after. The idea here is to make the photo a little more interesting.
The "before" photo has been converted from a raw file from the D200 with
the histogram showing that all tones were captured. This, of course,
might make the image a little flat at first, but you know you have all
the tones. If you are a perfectionist you might even start with a 16 bit
image instead of the faster and smaller 8 bit (like this one). This will
be a SIMPLE tutorial. The idea is to teach the concept. I expect that as
you experiment you will learn much more.
Before we start, notice that the clouds are a little
weak and have some blown highlights. As this photo came from a raw file,
it was a simple matter (less than a minute) to do a double raw
conversion and expose one conversion for the clouds and one for the
landscape. See Luminance Masking
(lesson #9 above). Using levels I adjusted the mask and the two photos.
I used the Erase
Tool (to erase or paint white) the
portion of the mask I didn't want with a large soft brush. I then
saved as a PSD and flattened for this lesson and saved as a tiff.
Now it's your turn.
1- Let's start by
burning in the corners slightly. This directs the eye towards the center
of interest (photographers have used this technique for a 100 years -
and longer for painters). In PS CS2 (or CS3). Select the
Burn Tool (the icon showing the hand
with the open finger-thumb). At the top of the page are options. Set
Shadows and Exposure to
25%. Make sure you use a VERY large brush size with
Hardness set to 0.
2- Now, use the
Dodge Tool. It is found in the same
place. Use the small arrow (lower
right hand side) inside the selection box.
Right click this arrow. This gives you the option of
Dodge, Burn, Sponge. Set the
and Exposure to
24%. Dodge the highlights to bring out contrast and detail in certain
areas. This will be a judgment call but you will get better as you
practice. Trying using different size brushes. I prefer a VERY large
brush size but more specific detailed can be adjusted with a smaller
Go back, and with the
continue enhancing the blacks (shadows).
What you have done is Dodge the highlights (make lighter) and Burn the
shadows (make darker). In essence, seamlessly changing only the contrast
in areas of your choice.
That's it! I told you
it was simple.