Photoshop Camera Raw Filter Series - Part 3 - Expose Lovely Details in the Shadows

Today, we'll be looking at what lies lurking in the shadows. Using the Shadows Slider can reveal all sorts of lovely details without damaging an otherwise well-exposed photo.

 

 
Today, we'll be looking at what lies lurking in the shadows. Using the Shadows Slider can reveal all sorts of lovely details without damaging an otherwise well-exposed photo.
 

 

Part 3: The Shadows Slider

The Shadows Slider helps you brighten dark areas, bringing back detail. You can also use it to darken areas, if you need more depth in the shadows.

Unlike the Exposure Slider, it doesn't perform a whole image brighten. Rather, it is subtle and lifts just the darker tones. It's perfect for leaving well-exposed, lighter areas of your photo unharmed.

In the same way the Highlight Slider reduces clipping at the white end of the Histogram, the Shadows Slider reduces clipping at the shadow end of the Histogram.

Clipping occurs when a pixel sits outside the range of the histogram, either because it's too light or too dark, and is represented by pure white or pure black. When you get clipping, you've lost detail.

 

 
 

 

The stock image above is a lovely shot. Beautiful colours, a lot going on, lovely exposure on the table area. If you want the focus to be on the table, it's fine.

If you lift the shadows, however, you'll find gorgeous floor tiles hiding in the dark areas. It also has the effect of bringing more detail into the computer screen and creating rich colours on the hat, table and briefcase. Even the text on the hand lettering pops a little more.

Making decisions on what to change will alway depends on what you want the photo to portray. In this example, I think the floor tiles definitely add beauty and richness to the photo.

 

Video Walkthrough

This video walkthrough will show you how to:

  • Convert the image to a Smart Object.
  • Use the Shadow Slider to bring out the detail.

 

 

The Adobe Camera Raw Filter can only find the detail that has been recorded when you took the shot. But, even with this stock jpeg file, you can see there was a lot to reveal.

If you have images with large dark areas, try to lift the shadows and see if you can bring a little more detail back.

Used in conjunction with the Highlight Slider, it can also help room shots - the highlight slider stopping clipping in windows,  the shadow slider showing more detail in the fixtures and fittings.

This 5-part series will cover:

  1. Highlight Slider - brighten images without losing all the detail in the existing highlights. Great technique for room photos.
  2. Radial Filter - make the best bits of your image glow with the radial filter. Great for faces and fashion shoots.
  3. Shadows Slider - expose the beautiful details hidden in the shadows. Great for bringing out details and lifting an image without over-exposing it.
  4. Graduated Filter - add interest to a flat image or enrich skies or landscapes. Great for flat lays and travel images.
  5. Brush Adjustment - make really specific adjustments on your photos, and make sure the focal point of your image really stands out. Great for balancing competing elements in an image.

 

[The stock images used in this series are available free from Pexels.]