Blown highlights: how to rescue blown skies using simple Photoshop effects

Blown highlights: how to rescue blown skies using simple Photoshop effects

How to rescue blown highlights – steps 10-18

How to rescue blown highlights in your landscape photography: step 10

10 Select the rocks
Choose the Freehand selection tool from the Tools palette. Set Feather to 40 to give the selection a soft edge. This will help blend the edited pixels with their unedited neighbours when we change the contrast. Draw a selection around the flat foreground rocks as shown above.

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How to rescue blown highlights in your landscape photography: step 11

11 Adjust the mid-tone contrast
Select Enhance>Adjust Lighting>Shadows/Highlights. Now set Lighten Shadows to 18% and Midtone Contrast to 100%. This contrast change reveals more of the rocky texture. Next, click OK to apply the tonal changes, before pressing Ctrl+D to clear the selection.

 

How to rescue blown highlights in your landscape photography: step 12

12 Reveal delicate textures
The contrast of the ocean is a little flat as
well. To bring out the sea’s textures, select the area with the Magnetic lasso and add a Levels adjustment layer. Set the black slider to 39 to darken the shadows, and set the white slider to 216 to brighten the crashing foam.

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How to rescue blown highlights in your landscape photography: step 13

13 Enhance the obelisk
The distant obelisk is in the centre of the frame, but it could stand out more. Click the Background copy thumbnail and choose the Burn tool from the Tools palette. Choose a soft round tip. Set the Size to 70 pixels, the Range to Midtones, and the Exposure to 11%. Spray the obelisk to darken it a little.

 

How to rescue blown highlights in your landscape photography: step 14

14 Adjust the colours
To make the grass stand out and add a little more colour to the image, add a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer. Set the drop-down menu to Yellows and then boost the saturation to +26. This makes the grass look more green and lush, adding colour variety to the image.

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How to rescue blown highlights in your landscape photography: step 15

15 Create a new layer
To introduce a subtle hint of drama to the shot we can darken the corners of the frame with a vignette. This helps make the sky look more menacing, which enhances the atmosphere in our landscape. Create a new layer and drag it over to the top of the layer stack.

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How to rescue blown highlights in your landscape photography: step 16

16 Set the gradient options
Press D to set the foreground and background colours to default black and white. Choose the Gradient tool and click the Edit button in the Options bar. Choose the default Foreground to Background preset and click OK. Tick the Radial Gradient icon on the Options bar and tick the Reverse box.

 

How to rescue blown highlights in your landscape photography: step 17

17 Draw a gradient
Set the Magnification box at the bottom left of the window to 15%. This increases the amount of space around the image. Now draw a gradient outwards from the centre of the shot into one of the corners of the frame, before setting Layer 1’s blending mode to Multiply.

 

How to rescue blown highlights in your landscape photography: step 18

18 Fine-tune the vignette
Reduce Layer 1’s Opacity to 65% for a more subtle vignette effect. The white parts of the gradient become transparent, while the grey areas darken the shot towards the edges. Paint on Layer 1 with a soft white brush to restore the centre of the image to full brightness.

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