Nov 12, 2013

Bringing Back Shadow Detail in Photoshop

I Choo-Choo-Choose You

Today we’re using this incredible image from Chris to show how to use Photoshop to bring back detail into the shadows of an image and then doing some coloring and stylizing. Photoshop is incredibly powerful, this image was a contest submission which means the file quality had been reduced significantly, yet we were still able to find a ton of information to enhance the image.

Finding Shadow Detail

Using the Shadow/Highlights tool from the Image Adjustments menu we were able to brighten the shadow areas of the image, and just as importantly bring back color in these areas. Shadows become very desaturated, and when brightening them it is crucial to bring back the color along with the brightness level.

Toning Highlights & Shadows

Using a combination of a couple curves adjustment layers and an Apply Image mask we added color separately to the highlights and shadows to accentuate the mood of the setting sun.

Finishing Touches

To wrap up the editing we used a couple gradients and vignettes to direct the focus of the viewer to the subject of the image. We also accentuated the head lamp of the locomotive to really make the image come to life.


user image You
(will not be published)

  • user image
    Eugen Georgescu

    hey, nice tutorial ! really brings out the beauty of the image ! keep it up.

    ps: you used the radial gradient by accident in the middle of the photo, it was gettin on my nerves when i was watching hahahha

  • user image

    I apologize for the double post, wasn’t sure if you read the YouTube comments and I was curious on your comment:

    Entertaining tutorial, as always, Aaron. Though I have a question/comment on your statement about editing in 8-bit and the banding. I was under the impression that even when working with an 8-bit image you should convert to 16-bit for editing – which will allow a much greater color palate and reduce things like banding when really bending the colors and levels. Though I guess I never tried it both
    ways for comparison. What say ye, PS Jedi Master?