Step by step how to recover clipped highlight detail in Photoshop Elements: steps 10-18
10 Check for clipping
In the Histogram window the graph’s blue highlights have slid left, indicating they are not as over-exposed as they were. For a second opinion, double-click on the Levels Adjustment Layer. Alt-click on the white highlight input level slider. The clipping warning patches have been considerably reduced.
11 Improve the contrast
To lighten the shaded areas, drag the grey midtone slider left to 1.51. This reveals some architectural detail in the under-exposed buildings. To make sure that the shot has some dark shadows (and a healthy range of black and white pixels), set the black shadow input level slider to 4.
12 Warm it up
The shot’s colour balance could be considered a little cool, especially given its sunny subject. To warm up our scene, go to Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Photo Filter. Set the Filter drop-down to Warming Filter (LBA) and reduce the Density to 20% for a more subtle warming effect.
13 Boost the colours
To give the shot more impact, go to Layers> New Adjustment Layer>Hue/Saturation. Keep the Channel set to Master and drag the Saturation slider to +16. It’s a good idea to keep your colour boost adjustment subtle, or you’ll run the risk of re-introducing clipped colours into the shot.
14 Set up a brush
There’s a hint of a halo around the lamppost. To fix this, choose Layer>New>Layer and click OK. Layer 2 will appear at the top of the Layers palette’s stack. Grab the Brush tool. From the Brush Preset picker in the options bar, choose a soft round tip with a Size of 200 and set Opacity to 100%.
15 Hide the halos
Place the brush near the lamppost (but not on the lighter halo) and hold Alt to activate the Eyedropper tool. Click to sample some blue sky. Spray the tip over the lamppost. To hide the lighter halo set the layer’s Blending Mode to Darken and reduce its Opacity to 29%.
16 Save the edited version
You can now go to File>Save As and set the Format drop-down menu to Photoshop. This preserves your shot’s layers. Alternatively, set the Format to JPEG and label it clipping_after. This creates a flattened file that you can easily upload to Facebook or email to family and friends.
17 JPEG to raw
To open a JPEG in the Camera Raw editor, go to File>Open. Browse to our clipping_before.jpg. Set the Format drop-down menu to Camera Raw. Click Open. Press O (over-exposed) to see all of the clipped highlights as patches of red. Clipped shadows can be displayed by pressing U (under-exposed).
18 Clobber clipping
To restore detail to the clipped highlights in Elements 11, set the Highlights slider to –22. If you’re using an earlier version, the Recovery slider will do a similar job. Restore shadow detail by dragging Shadows to +55 (or use the Fill Light slider in older versions.) Boost Vibrance to 20 and you’re done.
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