Enhancing Midtones Only In Ps

Discussion in 'Graphics Programs and Photo Gallery' started by smoke665, May 5, 2019.

  1. smoke665

    smoke665 TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    A lot of times when shooting ambient light I have a problem getting a lot of data in the midtone section of the histogram. Here's an original example of such an image.
    fauna02112018_471-Edit.jpg The light is such that most of my data is to the left, resulting in a histogram like this.
    without.JPG

    The problem is how to get more detail in midtone area without blowing the highlights or affecting the shadows. Clarity in camera raw helps, but I think I prefer a couple of old school methods I've been working with better.

    First step make two duplicate layers Crtl>J x 2 (PC). Now convert each layer for smart filters Filters>Smart filters. Then click on the first duplicate layer and run Filters>Sharpen>Unsharp mask. You can adjust these settings per taste, but these are for the image I used. Click OK. Blending mode normal. Opacity 100%. You can click on the eyeball on the layer to see the difference, it'll be very subtle, and mostly in the shadows.
    unsharp.JPG

    Now go to the second duplicate layer. Filters>Other>High Pass filter. These are the settings I used for the image, but you can adjust the radius to taste. Click OK. Since you have both layers set as smart filters, you can go back and dbl click on these to adjust later if you like.
    highpass.JPG

    Now change the blending mode on this layer to Overlay, and dbl click on layer to open the layer style menu.
    blend.JPG
    Now go down to the slider circled. Clk, hold and drag the left and right slider in to about the point I have it. Now go to the left indicator hold down the alt key (PC) and Clk, hold and drag in to separate. Do the same on the right indicator. Clk ok. At this point I dropped the opacity of the layer down to about 85%. That's not a hard fast number, you can adjust the opacity up or down on either of the layers as per your taste.

    And here is the image with layers applied
    fauna02112018_471-Edit 2.jpg
    And the histogram with the changes applied. Note the small changes that took place in the curve, but look at the detail difference in the leaves and note there were no changes to either the extreme highlights or shadows.
    with.JPG

    Footnote: here is an overlay of the two histograms to give you a better idea of where it adjusted. The bottom is the original the top is with the layers, and lighter gray is where the actual adjustment took place.
    combined.jpg


     
    Last edited: May 5, 2019
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  2. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Great tutorial!
     
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  3. smoke665

    smoke665 TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    Thanks man, maybe it'll help someone along the line, or spark some ideas. Note I went back and added the combined histogram after you looked at it. Forgot it on the original.
     
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  4. adamhiram

    adamhiram No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I tend to boost the shadows to brighten both the the darker shadows and mid tones, then deepen the blacks to bring the darker shadows back down. Occasionally I’ll work with the tone curve, but I’m not that comfortable with it, to be honest. Looking forward to trying this technique out, thanks for sharing!
     
  5. smoke665

    smoke665 TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    As in all things Ps there are a hundred different ways to do things. Using the tone curve is sort of like using an axe to carve a piece of wood vs a sharp carving knife. You can make changes really fast, but it's harder to control. Using the Unsharp Mask in this manner is a different take on the tool. By setting the low amount, higher radius, and "0" threshold, you're creating a very soft, broad sharpening effect that increases the contrast slightly in the target area edges. The High Pass builds on that by only letting the "high frequencies" pass, or "the details" in this case.
     
  6. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Good tutorial.
     
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  7. smoke665

    smoke665 TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    Glad you liked it. I'm always looking for simpler ways to do things in Ps.
     

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