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Opening Up the Shadows (Like “Fill Light” on a Slider)

When you’ve got a subject that’s backlit (so they look almost like a silhouette), or part of your image is so dark all the detail is getting lost in the shadows, help is just one slider away. The Shadows slider does an amazing job of opening up those dark shadow areas and putting some light on the subject (almost like you had a flash to add in a bit of fill light).

Step One:

Here’s the original image and you can see the subject is backlit. While our eyes do an amazing job of adjusting for scenes like this with such a wide range of tones, as soon as we press the shutter button and take the shot, we wind up with a backlit image where our subject is in the shadows (like you see here). As good as today’s cameras are (and they are the most amazing they’ve ever been), they still can’t compete with the incredible tonal range of what our eyes can see. So, don’t feel bad if you create some backlit shots like this, especially since you’re about to learn how easy it is to fix them.

Step Two:

Just go to the Shadows slider, drag it to the right, and as you do, just the shadow areas of your photo are affected. As you can see here, the Shadows slider does an amazing job of opening up those shadows and bringing out detail in the image that was just hidden in the shadows. Note: Sometimes, if you really have to drag this slider way over to the right, the image can start to look a little flat. If that happens, just increase the Contrast amount (dragging to the right), until the contrast comes back into the photo. You won’t have to do this very often, but at least when it happens you’ll know to add that contrast right back in to balance things out.

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