The Shadows Highlights Command

The Shadows/Highlights command is one of Elements' best features. With it, you can zip through corrections that would have been darned near impossible without it. Shadows/Highlights is an incredibly powerful tool for adjusting only the dark or light areas of your photo without messing up the rest of it. Figure 12-1 shows what a great help it can be.

Note: The Shadow/Highlights dialog box, like most of Elements' advanced fixes dialog boxes, has a preview checkbox, which lets you watch what's happening to your image as you adjust the settings. It's a good idea to keep these checkboxes turned on so you can make sure you like the changes you're making.

The Shadows/Highlights tool is very easy to use, because you just go by what you're seeing. Here are the specifics:

1. Open your poorly lit photo in the Editor, and then choose Enhance —* Adjust Lighting —» Shadows/Highlights.

Your photo immediately becomes about 30 shades lighter. Don't panic. As soon as you select the command, the Lighten Shadows setting automatically jumps to 25 percent, which is way too much for about 80 percent of your photos. Just shove the slider back to 0 to undo this change before you start making your corrections.

Figure 12-1. Shadows/Highlights can bring back details from photos where you were sure there was no information at all. Top: The original photo suffers from a severe case of extreme backlighting.

Bottom: The Shadows/Highlights tool brings out the hidden detail and reduces the background glare. If you look closely at the mouths of the bells and the wooden supports just below them, you can see the kind of noise (graininess) that often lurks in underexposed areas. To fix those problems, try tweaking the saturation (Section 12.7).

Figure 12-1. Shadows/Highlights can bring back details from photos where you were sure there was no information at all. Top: The original photo suffers from a severe case of extreme backlighting.

Bottom: The Shadows/Highlights tool brings out the hidden detail and reduces the background glare. If you look closely at the mouths of the bells and the wooden supports just below them, you can see the kind of noise (graininess) that often lurks in underexposed areas. To fix those problems, try tweaking the saturation (Section 12.7).

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