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Balancing Different Areas of an Image

The image we have been working with is only the lower part of a larger image. It was shot in the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas.

The artificial sky was much brighter than the lower part of the picture and very different in character. None the less, we can quickly and easily balance the image.

This technique has many applications. By selecting a dark forest on a light mountainside, one can increase the highlight and thus the detail. Even a portrait with one side of the face too dark, can be lightened subtly.

Select Highlights

Selecting the Highlights

In Photoshop there are many ways of selecting an area - marquee, lasso, by colour range and so on. In this case I chose the magic wand. See palette, or use the keyboard command w.

Some of the sky was entirely blown out so I clicked in the white area. I tried several times with different tolerances set. A setting of 48 got most of the sky and just a little of the buildings.

In order to get all the bright areas in the picture, I could have clicked Contiguous off, but instead used Select Similar - Ctrl+s,r.

Invert Selection

Invert the Selection

On the Select menu, pick Inverse - Ctrl-Shift+I.

Now everything BUT the bright area is selected.

Again on the Select menu pick Feather - Ctrl-Alt+D.

In this case I used eight pixels for a soft - but still well defined transition between the areas.


Area Levels

Balancing the Area.

Back to old familiar Levels, and by now you know what to do. Just watch along the marquee line and make the levels within the marquee balance the area that is excluded.

If the picture demands it once again select Inverse - Ctrl-Shift+I and adjust the levels on the other area.

Where the highlights are burned out, all detail is lost and nothing will bring it back. In this image it looks absolutely fine however.




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For a downloadable Adobe Acrobat version of this tutorial please go to:

©Larry N. Bolch 2002