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Old Sep 21, 2005, 2:27 PM   #1
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Working with Photoshop 6, but really don't know how it all works. Anyway, I've got a shot that's lit well on the foreground with a dark background. I want to tweak the foreground while keeping the background dark. using levels changes the whole image. What must I do. Thanks for any replies.
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Old Sep 21, 2005, 3:04 PM   #2
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I don't go that far back to 6, but I'll give you a suggestion from the many ways to do most things in PS.

Click on the 'Create new fill or adjustment layer' icon in the layers palette and select Levels. Now, adjust the levels to what you want your foreground to be and click ok.

The levels adjustment has affected your whole image. So we take the paintbrush, set the size as necessary, and ensure that the foreground colour is set to black and now paint over the area that you wish to remain unaffected (your background). If you go over anything you don't wish to, just press X on your keyboard to make the foreground colour white and 'paint' the effect back in. Switching to black again to carry on 'masking' the area to be untouched.

Using an adjustment layer like this creates a layer mask allowing you to 'mask' off an area you do not want affected by any adjustments, filters or effects.

If this isn't available to you, let us know and we can try another way.
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Old Sep 21, 2005, 4:22 PM   #3
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There is a technique called contrast masking that does that. You basically make an inverted black and white layer. It is dark where the image is light and light where it is dark.

Layer>Duplicate layer>OK
Image>Adjustments>Desaturate
Image>Adjustments>Invert
In the layers palette go from Normal to Overlay
Filters>Blur>Gaussian blur. Start around 60 and move the slider until the image looks good.
If the effect is a little too much you can reduce the opacity of the mask in the layers palette.

As a first step it often helps to go Filter>Sharpen>Unsharp mask. Use an amount around 16 and a radius around 180. It isn't really a sharpening step but often brightens an image a little. Then run the contrast masking steps.

Photoshop CS and CS2 have a Shadow/Highlight control that is generally better than contrast masking. But I use the two in conjunctionon difficult shots. Through PS7, contrast masking is the only way to do it easily without resorting to a lot of selections.

Edit: I forgot to add that you have to go Layer>Flatten image if you want to do more work on the image. You also have to do that to save as a JPG or other file type that doesn't support layers.


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Old Oct 1, 2005, 9:44 AM   #4
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The easiest thing to do is use a layer mask with a Levels or Curves adjustment layer.

You make a selection of the background using something like the Magic Wand or Color Range. Feather the edges a bit. Then create a Levels adjustment layer. Go to the Layer menu item and add a Reveal Selection layer mask. Your Levels adjustment will only affect the background.

Cheers,

Mitch
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