Harsh lighting and a contrast mask

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by Overread, Oct 20, 2008.

  1. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Recently I have been editing shots taken during the height of the day - and thus been dealing with a lot of harsh lighting. One thing I have noticed is that my best friend the levels editing seems to exaggerate the influence of harsh lighting in a shot. Before now I have been adjusting curves and using the burn tool to try and reduce this effect, but recently I came across the method of making a contrast mask and have found this to be a good way to reduce the harsh effect.

    example:
    without contrast mask
    [​IMG]

    100% crop
    [​IMG]

    with contrast mask
    [​IMG]

    100% crop
    [​IMG]

    and the full shot a little larger if you wish to see (with mask of course)
    http://i170.photobucket.com/albums/...s/British Wildlife Centre 2/1000/IMG_1138.jpg

    As for making a contrast mask I followed the directions here
    http://www.earthboundlight.com/phot...-photoshop.html?search=contrast mask&bool=and
    if you are an elements user scroll down to the bottom where the author outlines how to get the same effect. The only difference I had with this was that I did not use gaussian blur - infact I added no blur at all to the result, since I saw not only in his example shot, but in my own as well that the use of the blur reduced overall sharpness of a shot.
    Also note that I used a layer mask to apply the contrast mask to select areas only (those under the effect of harsh light and also the shadowed side of the birds head) I found that applied to the whole shot it took away the effect of depth and the shadows - so I used the mask to keep some form of depth to the shot

    Anyone any thoughts on this or tips?
     
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2008
  2. Garbz

    Garbz No longer a newbie, moving up!

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  3. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    hmm just had a chat with someone else in another forum and they said that the heighlights and shadows tool was based on a similar effect - I played around with it in a different shot and was starting to see the mask losing me details in the shadows - however with a layers adjust (Bascially darkening the mask) it seems to have restored that area of data:

    contrast mask alone:
    http://i170.photobucket.com/albums/u275/overmind_2000/my%20works/British%20Wildlife%20Centre%202/1000/IMG_1851contrastmask.jpg

    contrast mask and curves edit
    http://i170.photobucket.com/albums/...ntre 2/1000/IMG_1851contrastmaskandcurves.jpg

    highlight and shadows adjustment (just darkening highlights in a preselected area similar to that used for the mask
    http://i170.photobucket.com/albums/...Centre 2/1000/IMG_1851withhighlightdarken.jpg
     

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