Nikon
takegreatpictures.com Created and Maintained by: The Photoimaging Information Council

Adjustment layers are powerful yet often underused to their full capability. They allow global changes for many purposes and are bundled by effect. A section is dedicated to overall exposure, another deals with color adjustments, another with special effects, and a final one with overlays for specific purposes. Access them by clicking on the half dark / half light circle at the bottom of the layers palette or by going to Layer>New Adjustment Layer at the top of the Photoshop workspace. I prefer to use the circle at the bottom of the layers palette as it offers a few more options not found when accessed the other way. 

 

How to Use Adjustment Layers

 

As stated above, an adjustment layer creates a global change to an image but its power is found in the layer mask that accompanies each. What this means is the adjustment can be applied to the entire photo but ERASED from certain parts. In essence, the effect becomes local. Additionally, it can be revisited at anytime so the adjustment can be further tweaked. Simply click on the layer in the layers panel and the dialog box with the applied settings appears. Let’s look at two images using two different types of adjustments to demonstrate their power. 

 

Image #1 - Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer: 

This is the original capture. I used a color grad to add interest to a gray sunrise. The problem is the color is not reflected back onto the water or land. I could add saturation to the entire image, but the sky would become garish. 

 

How to Adjustment Layers

 

I clicked the half dark half light circle at the bottom of the layers palette and chose the Hue/Saturation adjustment layer. The Hue/Sat dialog box appeared and I simply moved the saturation slider to +50. Experiment with the Hue and Lightness sliders to add additional tweaks. And don’t overlook the presets that are available - see the red rectangle I used to highlight the pull down menu of options. Additionally, use the pulldown menu where it says MASTER if you want to impact specific color ranges.

 

Adjustment Layers How to

 

With the Saturation slider set to +50, this is the result - the sky is certainly over done but the water and land both look great.

 

Using Adjustment Layers

 

To tone down the effect on the sky, erase it on the layer mask. Access the Brush tool. Make sure the mode at the top of the workspace in the Options Bar says Normal. Also in the Options Bar, set the opacity to 30% and be sure the hardness of the brush is set to a low number: 20% is a good starting point. Be sure the foreground color in the Tool Bar is set to black. Make passes over the sky and watch the garish effect disappear. Keep erasing until you obtain the look you want. The amount of erasing you perform is reflected in how gray or black the top of the layer mask gets. 

 

Adjustment Layers How to Use

 

Image #2 - Levels Adjustment Layer:

This is the original capture. The rocks and vegetation are dark but the exposure on most of the water is good.  The problem is if I make a global adjustment to brighten the rocks and greenery, the bright areas of the water will be overexposed. A levels adjustment layer will solve the problem as I can brighten the overall image but then erase the effect from the water to restore its proper exposure.

 

Adjust Exposure in Adjustment Layers

 

Go to the half dark half light circle at the bottom of the layers palette and choose Levels. Adjust the highlights, midtones and shadows sliders to obtain the effect you desire. Ignore what happens to the water as this will be tweaked painting on the layer mask. The final adjustments are reflected as shown as is the effect of the global exposure change - parts of the water are overexposed:

 

Adjust Exposure in Photoshop

 

Photoshop tips

 

To tone down the effect on the water, erase it on the layer mask. Access the Brush tool. Make sure the mode at the top of the workspace in the Options Bar says Normal. Also in the Options Bar, set the opacity to 30% and be sure the hardness of the brush is set to a low number: 20% is a good starting point. Be sure the foreground color in the Tool Bar is set to black. Make passes over the water and watch the change in density as detail is restored. Keep erasing until you obtain the look you want. The amount you perform is reflected in how gray or black the layer mask gets.

 

Edit Pictures in Photoshop

 

To learn more about this topic, join me on one of my Nature Photo Tours. Visit russburdenphotography.com and click on the NATURE TOURS button for more information. Also, email me to be placed on my Tip of the Week list and to receive announcements about upcoming tours specials. Contact me at rburden@ecentral.com. Pick up a copy of my book, Amphoto’s Complete Book of Photography, from Amazon. 

 



Bookmark and Share
Rate This Article1 being the lowest 10 being the highest
Post a Comment
© 2002 - 2017 Take Great Pictures
Tamron
Nikon
Take Great Pictures.com offers you Photo Tips and Techniques from Master Photographers, the latest news on new products, events, and artists, photo contests, reviews of photography books for your coffee table, columns on digital photography, taking a digital picture, scrapbooking, a calendar of photogenic events and destinations throughout the world, a place to share your own images with others, and helps you in taking great pictures. Brought to you by the PhotoImaging Information Council, Take Great Pictures aims to inspire, inform, and educate those with an interest of photography regardless of picture taking skill level.