Two designers walk into a bar and sit down with their Powerbooks. One designer says to the other, “How much you want to bet I can correct the highlight and shadow of this image without using any adjustment tools or filters directly on the image?

The other designer takes him up on the bet and a minute later begrudgingly hands his associate $10.

How did the first designer win the bet?

The designer used a contrast mask to adjust his highlights and shadows. You can too by following these simple steps.

1. Open and image that has plugged shadows and/or blown out highlights
2. Duplicate that layer (Command + J)
3. Desaturate the duplicated layer (Shift + Command + U)
4. Invert the duplicated layer (Command + I)
5. Change the duplicated layer’s blend mode to Overlay

The contrast mask with reduce the blown out highlights and open up the plugged shadows. You can then of course make further adjustments by changing the duplicated layer’s opacity, changing the blend if settings in the Layer Style dialog box or by adding a layer mask to isolate areas.


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