Hints, Tips and Recommendations:
Making Local Changes to Parts of an Image
Adjustment Brushes and Gradient Filters
In addition to making global changes throughout an image it is often desirable to make local changes to parts of an images. Most general purpose editing programs, such as Adobe Camera Raw (ARC) or Lightroom, offer that possibility with three tools; the Adjustment Brush (ARC keyboard shortcut k), the Linear Gradient Filter (g), and the Radial Filter (j).
Use These Tools in Photoshop
Rather than reinventing the wheel Adobe made these tools available in Photoshop via the Filter > Camera RAW Filter … menu option.
Convert for Smart Filters if using these tools. That way the effects become re-editable and can be painted out with a mask or gradient. Photoshop menu Filter > Convert for Smart Filters
Learn to Use the Options For the Tools
The options for the brush tool are very important in aiding you to achieve your desired effect.
Brush Feathering makes the edge of the brush ‘soft’. In other words it fades out the effect at the edge of the area affected so the edit is not easily noticed. The larger the feather diameter the softer edged the brush will be.
Flow sets how much of the effect is added with a single brush stroke. At 100% the effect is complete with one ‘brush stroke’. With smaller percentages the effects can be ‘brushed in’ with repeated strokes.
Density sets a limit on how much of the effect is applied. At 90% density a brush will have a much more noticeable effect that 30%.
Auto Masking is a very important refinement because, when used, it will help you to restrict the effect of the brush within edges of areas of the images that you wish to modify. It does so by restricting the effect to the same colour range.
Learn Important Keyboard Shortcuts for the Tool Options
Learn the keyboard shortcuts for features of a program that you use frequently and it will save you time.
For the Brush Tool:
] increases brush size
[ decreases brush size
n selects a new tool of the same type you are already using. So if you are using the Brush n will give you a new brush (the same applies to the gradient filters)
Shift +Control+ v + left click drag changes brush feathering (without having to use the slider option)
Selective Editing Characteristics of the Locally Applied Tools
Each brush or filter gradient that is applied can locally change many image characteristics simultaneously. This is much more useful and very much faster than doing the equivalent in Photoshop where such functionality does not exist, except by calling the RAW Converter.
If using these tools in Photoshop convert the images to a ‘Smart Object’ first using menu option Filter > Convert for Smart Filters. That way the effects become re-editable and can be painted out with a mask or gradient.
Adobe have an excellent non-technical written description of tool characteristics.
Restricting the Effect of the Tools by Colour or Luminance Masking
In the example below the dark portion was brightened with the Adjustment Brush Tool (shortcut k). A second brush was used to remove noise in the reflections of the sky. The noise reduction effect was restricted to the blue areas of the images by Colour Masking. It is also possible to restrict by Luminance (Brightness) Masking instead of colour (but not both at once). A third Brush was used to change the colour balance of the snow to make it more blue.
Restricting the Area Affected by a Brush with Luminance Masking
Colour Masking of a Gradient Filter Used on the Sky
The effect of gradient filter can be restricted either by colour
Before and After Editing Examples (taken with a Very Small Pocket Camera)
Go Easy on the Sliders
Do not apply effects that lead to obvious artefacts such a very large halos in brightness and saturation, like that shown below.
An Good Example Edit in Adobe Lightroom
Please remember that it is important ensure that you capture a suitable exposure to produce a final image.
There is Better Selectivity of Colour Editing in Photoshop
The Hue Saturation editing panel in Photoshop allows more complex modification of selected colours because of the ability to specify and fade out effects over narrow colour ranges. These effects can then be coupled with different blending modes.
Tips and Images by: Steve Campbell