Digital Outback Photo
- Photography using Digital SLRs


Workflow Techniques #099

Tuning Highlights

essay by Uwe Steinmueller


In our last workflow article we showed how to use the Photoshop histogram during the editing process. Some readers complained that we did not show the final histogram. They were so right! Here is the histogram:

Final Histogram for workflow 98 article

At first it does not look that bad except of some minor clipping in the red channel. But this was not minor at all as our prints showed. Here is a crop that shows the effect:

100% magnification crop of the wf98 article result

We find 2 issues with these highlights:

  • We call them to aggressive (or hot)
  • They have this yellow tint

We could back an redo the image but we tried to fix it.

1. Toning down the highlights

First we reduce the highlight output level a bit (maybe 241 is even too strong)

Toning down the highlights

After Levels

Unfortunately this operation darkens all areas of this image. That is why we apply a highlight mask (create with our own Tonality Tuning Kit) to reduce the effect to the highlights only:

Highlight mask applied

Tip: Open both images in Photoshop and add one as a layer on top of the other. This way you can see better the subtle but relevant differences.


2. Reducing the Yellow Tint

Now we need to reduce the yellow tint. We create a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer:

Hue/Sat layer

Tip: Best you can lean how to create such a selective saturation correction from this article based on a Ben Willmore technique.

After Hue/Sat layer

Unfortunately this operation not only desaturates the highlight areas but effects the rest of the image. What is the solution? You guessed it: restrict the layer just again to the highlights (we actually use the same highlight mask as before):

Our start version

Final tuning

This time we won't forget also to show the final histogram:

Histogram of the final image

Final image

Highlights provide a much wanted sparkle in our prints but we never want them to be too harsh.





This is one of the many techniques we will teach during the 2006 Summit. We will also work with you 1 on 1 and help you with your own images and with how to use this technique, and many others, in your own work. Click here to read a detailed description of the 2006 Digital Fine Art Summit. Joseph Holmes will join the Summit 2006 as a guest instructor means you can ask this world class printing expert directly.

About the Fourth Annual Photography & Fine Art Printing Summit

The 4th Photography & Fine Art Printing Summit will take place November 10th to 13th, 2006, in Page, Arizona. Seats are limited. In addition to studying color management and color spaces, we will also do field photography in stunning locations such as Antelope Canyon, Lake Powell and Horseshoe Bend, as well as study Raw conversion, Photoshop processing, image optimization, printing. We will also conduct print reviews of your work created during the Summit. Find out all the details of this unique learning and photographing opportunity on the 2006 Summit page.




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