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Bringing out detail in shadows and highlights

I've seen a lot of travel photos in my time and too many of them show people in front of buildings or landscapes, where the background is correctly exposed, but the person is severely underexposed often to the point of being unrecognizable. If this often happens to you, next time you take this kind of photo make sure to on your flash and stand close enough to the person that the flash lights their face, so everything will be exposed nicely.

However, if you already have favorite photos that suffer from this problem, the Photoshop Shadow/Highlight tool can help you recover the detail lost in the shadows, as shown in the left image in Figure 5. Choose ImageAdjustmentsShadow/Highlight and, in most cases, all you'll need to do is to adjust the Shadows slider until the detail returns to the person in the foreground, as shown in the right portion of Figure 5. Click OK to accept the change.

Figure 5a Figure 5b

Figure 5a and 5b These figures show a woman in front of a landscape, both before and after using the Shadow/Highlight tool. You'll notice that the difference is obvious and that the fix only took about 15 seconds to perform!

On the flip side, you may find that photos taken in very bright sun have overexposed areas where the sun has hit an object consequently making the shadow areas underexposed. In these situations, the camera simply can't cope with the range of lights and darks in the image. The Shadow/Highlight tool can help recover some of the missing data, both in the highlights and in the shadows. Simply adjust the Shadows slider to drag details back out of the shadows and drag the Highlights slider to the right to return detail into the overexposed areas.

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