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Fix high contrast photos while maintaining the lighting ratio

Added on Thursday 2nd of February 2012 03:00 am EST

By Amy Courtright
Adobe Photoshop CS2/CS3/CS4/CS5
Operating Systems:
Macintosh, Microsoft Windows

Not every photo will have perfect lighting. When you miss the mark with your camera, turn to Photoshop for repairs.


To add light to dark areas within a trouble image, we’ll:
Convert a copy of the image to grayscale and invert it creating a negative.
Blur our copied image for smooth color transitions and load the image as a selection.
Make a new layer from the loaded selection of our original and make some blending mode changes.
Go over a few techniques you can use to fine-you’re your image for optimal results.


Have you ever taken a picture directly in front of a window? If so, and you didn’t use a flash or fill-flash to reduce the lighting ratios, then your final print was probably less than desirable. Because of strong lighting and very dark shadows anything located in front of the window will be silhouetted. However, with a little help from Photoshop you can fix the tonal values of your image bringing a dark foreground into the light, as shown in Figure A.

Adding light

Please label before and After, please make after picture large.


Making a negative
To begin, open an image that you want to retouch in Photoshop. Then, make a separate copy of the image by choosing Image > Duplicate. In the resulting Duplicate Image dialog box name your new document Negative and click OK.
With your new document open, change its mode to Grayscale. To do so, choose Image Mode > Grayscale. If, at this point, an Adobe Photoshop dialog box displays asking to Discard Color Information click OK. Now, choose Image > Adjustments > Invert to create a negative image, as shown in Figure B. Next, choose, Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur, to soften the edges of your image. Set the Radius of your blur to 5 pixels and click OK.



We’re now ready to apply this image to our original in order to define the areas we need to add light to. So, save your final Negative document as a PSD file, but don’t close the document. Now, click on your original file making it active.


Loading your selection
In order to apply our Negative image to our original, we have to load the selection. So, choose Select > Load Selection. Then, in the resulting dialog box, shown in Figure C, select Negative.psd from the Document pop-up menu. Also, make sure the...


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