Photography, Photoshop

Local Contrast

A technique I often use to enhance local contrast is some relatively unusual unsharp mask. Our normal attempt at contrast is to use the contrast tool, levels or curves. This adjustments kill detail in the shadows and highlights. [column width=”50%” padding=”0%”]

[/column] [column width=”50%” padding=”0″] This is an image a I took a year ago in Scotland at the entrance to the Isle of Skye ( some people might recognise it as the castle from Highlander!). A pleasent enough image even if it lacks contrast! and … we ignore the gatepost on the left of the image. [/column] [end_columns] [column width=”50%” padding=”0%”] This version of the image has had standard contrast added by adding a contrast adjustment layer. While this can improve the overall contrast of the image – its a bit of a blunt instrument and does not really do anything for the hills or the castle. Even in the mid tone areas like the wall, this contrast adjustment does not do anything for the stone details. [/column] [column width=”50%” padding=”0″] [/column] [end_columns] [column width=”50%” padding=”0%”] [/column] [column width=”50%” padding=”0″] The setting can vary a little, but typically the amount is between 20% and 40% withe radius set between 50 and 150 pixels. This will have the effect of making the contrast between shadows and highlights appear broader ( and give your image the appearance of greater dynamic range) [/column] [end_columns] [column width=”50%” padding=”0%”] This is the finished image. The effect is relatively subtle but it is a dramatic improvement on the original image. (still does not fix the gatepost though). By the way, this does not preclude your normal sharpening process – whichever one you might use. [/column] [column width=”50%” padding=”0″] [/column] [end_columns]