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Lesson 4. Fixing Exposure Problems > Project 4: Correcting parts of an image

Project 4: Correcting parts of an image

Whether or not you make color and lighting adjustment directly or use adjustment layers, it doesn’t always work to apply those changes to the entire image. Some pictures have combinations of problems that demand individual and separate attention.

Earlier in this lesson, you worked on an underexposed photograph of a little girl and a faded sepia-toned photograph of a little boy. You’ll apply those same remedies to the different areas of another image, which has a combination of exposure problems. You’ll intensify the over-bright tree branches and sky, and then draw out the details and colors for the shadowed pillar and wall.

Creating a rough selection

In this task, you’ll select the area on the right side of the pillar where you see the leafy branches and sky. You’ll begin by making a rough, rectangular selection of most of the area and then adding details to that selection.

Before you begin, make sure that you have enough time (10 or 15 minutes) to do both this procedure and the next one before you take a break, because the next task will refine the selection you make here.

1.
Using the File Browser or Organizer, open the 04_04.jpg file, which is in the Lesson04 folder and is tagged with both the Lesson 4 and Project 4 tags.

2.
In the toolbox, select the Rectangular Marquee tool (), which is grouped with the Elliptical Marquee tool in the toolbox.

3.
Drag from the upper right corner to the bottom of the image, to the right of the pillar. Make sure that the selection rectangle fits snugly against the right side of the image.

4.
Select the Magnetic Lasso tool (), which is grouped with the Lasso tool () in the toolbox.

5.
In the tool options bar, select Add To Selection (), not New Selection.

Review the other settings in the tool options bar, which should be Feather at 0 px, Width at 10 px, Edge Contrast at 10%, and Frequency at 57.

6.
Click at the upper right corner of the selection rectangle to set an anchor point. Then move the Magnetic Lasso pointer across to the pillar and down its right edge. (You can just slide the pointer; it is not necessary to drag.)

7.
When you reach the bottom, click once. Move the pointer inside the lower left corner of the original selection rectangle. Double-click to complete the selection, or drag the pointer to the starting point and click once to close the selection.

The Magnetic Lasso tool detects the edges of contrasting areas automatically but not perfectly. Go directly to the next procedure without deselecting.

Refining and saving the selection

The Magnetic Lasso tool does an excellent job of selecting areas that contrast sharply with the surrounding area. For this image, the leaves in some areas are similar enough to the values in the pillar that you may need to do some clean-up work.

1.
Select the Zoom tool () in the toolbox and then Zoom In () in the tool options bar. Zoom in so that you can see details of the selection you made in the previous procedure.

(If the selection is no longer active, repeat “Creating a rough selection” on page 157.)

2.
Scroll up and down the right side of the image, looking for areas where the selection marquee does not line up with the edge of the pillar.

3.
Select the Polygonal Lasso tool ().

4.
Remove any areas of the pillar that are included in the selection, as follows:

  • Select Subtract From Selection () in the tool options bar.

  • Click once to set a starting anchor point.

  • Move the Polygonal Lasso tool a short distance along the edge of the pillar, and click again as needed to set additional anchor points.

  • Double-click the tool to close the shape and complete the selection removal. Or, move the tool close to the starting point until a small circle appears with the lasso pointer, and click to close the shape.

Note

If moving the pointer continues to create a line in the image window, then the selection is not closed. Try clicking the starting point of the selection or double-clicking again to close it.

5.
Add any areas of the trees that the selection missed, as follows:

  • Select Add To Selection () in the tool options bar.

  • Click to set anchor points around the area that you want to add to the selection, and then close the selection.

6.
Choose Select > Save Selection.

7.
In the Save Selection dialog box, type Trees & Sky to name the selection, and click OK.

Correcting an overexposed area of the image

One of the aims in this project is to intensify the color and contrast in the overexposed area where the trees and sky are. But you don’t want to do that to the pillar and shaded area, which are already a bit darker than ideal. Your approach here is to divide and conquer—to apply different solutions to different areas of the image. Creating a copy of just the area you just selected is the first step of this process.

1.
In the Layers palette, click More in the upper right corner of the Layers palette to open the Layers palette menu, and choose Palette Options.

2.
Select the medium-sized thumbnail option, if it is not already selected, and click OK.

It’s OK to select another size, but do not select None. The layer thumbnail can help you visualize what’s happening at the layer level of this project.

3.
Zoom out so that you can see the entire image, and then do one of the following:

  • If the selection you made in the previous topic is still active, go immediately to Step 4.

  • If the selection is not active, choose Select > Load Selection. Make sure that Trees & Sky is selected, and click OK.

4.
Choose Edit > Copy (or press Ctrl + C) to copy the selected area.

5.
Choose Edit > Paste (or press Ctrl + V) to paste the copied area onto a new layer, Layer 1.

In the image window, the only difference you’ll see is that the selection marquee has disappeared. But in the Layers palette, you can see that there’s a new layer.

6.
With Layer 1 (the copy of the tree and sky area) selected in the Layers palette, set the blending mode to Multiply.

Now the trees and sky look more colorful.

Correcting an underexposed area with other blending modes

You can lighten the shadows of just the shaded areas with techniques that are similar—but different—from the ones you used to intensify the trees and sky.

1.
In the Layers palette, select the Background layer.

2.
Choose Select > Reselect, and then Select > Inverse.

Now the pillar and stucco wall are selected instead of the trees and sky.



Note

If you get a different selection or if the Reselect command is not available, choose Select > Load Selection, and then select the Invert option and Trees & Sky.

3.
Choose Edit > Copy and then Edit > Paste.

Note

If an error message appears saying that the selected area is empty, make sure that the Background layer is selected in the Layers palette, and try again.

4.
With Layer 2 (the copy of the pillar and wall area) selected in the Layers palette, choose Screen as the blending mode.

Adding more intensity and saving

Now the entire photograph looks much more lively. All that remains is to make any minor adjustments you like, and then see how this file compares to the one you automatically corrected at the beginning of this lesson.

1.
Drag Layer 1 to New Layer () in the Layers palette to create a duplicate layer, Layer 1 Copy.

2.
Drag Layer 2 to New Layer () in the Layers palette to create a duplicate layer, Layer 2 Copy.

3.
With Layer 2 Copy selected in the Layers palette, do the following:

  • Choose Overlay as the blending mode.

  • Click the arrow by Opacity to open the slider, and drag to 50%. Or type 50%.

4.
Examine the entire image, looking critically at the brightness and intensities in the different areas. Using your own judgment, adjust the opacity of the copied layers as needed to achieve the right balance in the image.

Note

You cannot change the Opacity or position of the Background layer, which is locked and protected by default.

5.
When you are satisfied with the results, choose File > Save.

6.
In the Save As dialog box, save the file in the Lessons\My CIB Work folder, naming the file 04_04_Work and accepting Photoshop (PSD) as the Format. If Save In Version Set With Original is selected, be sure to deselect it before you click Save.

7.
Leave the file open and go on to the next procedure.

Comparing your results to the auto-fixed version

Let’s see how your careful work compares to the version you created earlier in this project.

1.
Choose File > Browse Folders to open the File Browser.

2.
Using the Folders palette, locate and select the My CIB Work folder in the Lessons folder.

3.
Double-click the thumbnail of the Autofix_04_04.jpg file to open it.

If the 04_04.psd file is not still open from the previous procedure, double-click that thumbnail (in the same My CIB Work folder) to open it, too.

4.
Close or minimize the File Browser.

5.
Arrange the files side by side, using Window > Images > Tile, or by dragging and resizing them yourself.

6.
When you finish comparing the two results, choose File > Close All.

Great news: You’ve finished the final project in this lesson. In this project, you’ve learned how to use selections with the other techniques you’ve practiced in Lesson 4 projects to correct images with complex exposure problems.

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