[Second in a Series]
When you start toning with Adjustment Layers, you gain all kinds of new flexibility to your workflow, since it’s a truly nondestructive method of image toning. Each adjustment you make can be ‘turned on’ and ‘turned off’ simply by activating or deactivating that layer. Today we’ll look at how to use the masking feature in Adjustment Layers to fine-tune the overall image we’re toning.
For this exercise I’ve selected a new image of a wisteria blossom, something I photographed just last week. It’s a particularly good candidate for this lesson because the color processing algorithms in my Canon camera don’t render the blossoms the correct shade of purple/lavender, instead coming up with a light blue:
So we’ll need to do some toning to correct this color problem.
To start, as with any image, we’ll first select the Levels icon in the Adjustment Layers panel. Regardless of whatever else I’m doing to a photograph, I always start with Levels.
In this case, the Levels histogram is in pretty decent shape. I’ll make a small change to the Highlights slider, moving it slightly to the left. Then click the arrow, bottom left of the palette to return to the main palette menu.
Next we’ll select the Color Balance icon. This opens up the Color Balance window with its sliders for Red/Cyan, Green/Magenta and Blue/Yellow. I know from past experience that to turn light blue into lavender/purple, we need to add a little yellow and some red to the image. We’ll do that now.
This fixes the color of the wisteria blossoms, but now the rest of the image has an overly-warm, yellowish cast. What to do? This is where the layer mask will save the day!
Double-click the mask icon, right next to the Color Balance layer in the Layers palette. Select the brush tool icon on the left, make sure Black is selected at 100%, and choose a big, soft brush size. Click and drag the brush through the parts of the image with the yellow cast, being careful to avoid the wisteria blossoms. You’ll see the yellow cast disappear as if by magic, taking that part of the image back to its original color.
If I’m sure I won’t need to work on this image again, I can simply go to Layer>Flatten Image and then Save As into the file format I prefer. If I think I may want to revisit this image, I’ll save this as a Photoshop document file (.psd) first. Then I’ll go to Image>Duplicate to create a new copy of the file. I’ll then flatten that file using the above procedure and save the finished file out as a tiff, jpeg or whatever, depending upon the intended usage.
This same approach can be used for all of your toning adjustments in Adjustment Layers. Whenever there’s a part of the image you want to tweak back to another state, the Mask feature in Adjustment Layers gives you this new flexibility.
Hi, I’m Andrew Boyd, a.k.a. The Discerning Photographer, and I hope this post has been interesting and informative. Please leave me a comment about it, let me know what you’d like to see more of on the site! You can also sign up for email delivery of all future articles or my RSS feed. Thanks!–DiscerningPhotog
Related articles on the web:
A Basic Guide to Photoshop CS4 Adjustment Layers at PSD Tuts+
Working with Adjustment Layers Photoshop at Hero Turko
Adjustment and Fill Layers at Adobe.com