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#38 Making Localized Adjustments

New to Camera Raw in CS4 is the ability to make adjustments, corrections, and enhancements to specific areas of the images. In contrast, in the previous versions, most corrections had to be made to the entire image. The Photoshop team took this limitation into consideration and provided an amazing solution with the Adjustment Brush and Graduated Filter (#39). And as you’ll soon discover, you will use these tools on a regular basis.

Start by selecting the Adjustment Brush tool (Figure 38a). Camera Raw will open the tool options under the histogram (Figure 38b). By default the mask mode is set to New, so that you can create a new adjustment. Modify the controls by dragging the sliders to define the type of adjustment you would like to make. Drag to the right to increase or to the left to decrease the particular adjustment. The following list describes what the different controls affect.

Figure 38a

Figure 38a To select the Adjustment Brush tool, click the appropriate icon or press K.

Figure 38b

Figure 38b The Adjustment Brush options.

  • Exposure. Adjusts the overall image brightness with a stronger effect on the brighter tones.
  • Brightness. Adjusts the image brightness with a greater effect in the midtones.
  • Contrast. Adjusts the image contrast with a greater effect in the midtones.
  • Saturation. Modifies the overall color intensity.
  • Clarity. Adds subtle dimension or depth to an image by increasing local contrast.
  • Sharpness. Changes the edge definition and details of the image.
  • Color. Enables you to add a color tint (not a color change) to a specific area.

After you have set the controls, the next step is to specify the brush options. Here it is helpful to position the brush over the image to see the current Brush settings (Figure 38c).

Figure 38c

Figure 38c The Adjustment Brush visuals reveal the brush size and feather. The farther away the two circles are from each other, the stronger the feathering amount.

  • Size. Controls the overall diameter of the brush.
  • Feather. Controls the softness or hardness of the brush stroke.
  • Flow. Controls the rate of application.
  • Density. Controls the overall intensity (or more technically the transparency) of the stroke.
  • Auto Mask. Limits the brush stroke to an area of similar color and tone.

Next, paint with the Adjustment Brush onto the area that you want to correct (Figure 38d). When you paint, you’ll notice a pin icon, which shows you the initial application point. If the pin is distracting, press the H key to hide/show the icon. For even more precision, select the Show Mask option to reveal the area being adjusted. To change the color of the Mask overlay, click on the color chip to the right of the words Show Mask and choose a new color.

Figure 38d

Figure 38d The original (left) image is corrected (right) by painting in an increased exposure. This correction was needed to remove shadows that appeared around the eyes as a result of improper lighting. The final result is a more compelling portrait.

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