Tutorial: Reducing Highlights

On August 4, 2013, in Tutorials, by teaco

I’ve done a couple of shoots recently where I’ve pushed the highlights, and want to pull them back slightly in post without affecting the rest of the image.  Here’s a nice and quick way to do it.

The highlights hadn’t been clipped so the detail would still be there.  I just need to ‘dial back’ the brightness over the lightest parts of the image.

1) Create a new curves adjustment layer and pull the curve down in the middle.

adjustment layer

2) Making sure you have highlighted the mask part of the curves layer (click the white rectangle just in case), then go to IMAGE on the toolbar, and then click ‘APPLY IMAGE’.

3) The ‘Apply Image’ field will appear on the screen.  Make sure your blend mode is set to MULTIPLY and you have not checked the ‘invert’ box.


4) That’s about it! You will see that the layer mask has the highlights in white, but the lowlights are black and therefore unchanged by the curve.  You are free to play with the curves layer to get the exact effect you want.  If you are doing a big adjustment, you may wish to change the blend mode of the curves layer to ‘Luminosity’ so that it affects brightness only, and does not affect colour ratios.

adjustment mask

Any questions then just leave a comment on this page.

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