How to Convincingly Lighten Shadows in Portraits Using Photoshop

Unless you're specifically going for the hard light look, shadows can sometimes be a distraction in portraiture work whose impact you might want to lessen. This helpful tutorial will show you how to convincingly lighten them to help even out the luminosity across your subject's face. 

Coming to you from Unmesh Dinda of PiXimperfect, this helpful video gives you an in-depth look at how to convincingly bring up shadow areas on a subject's face. The first thing to note is that this is a fairly involved method, so save it for portraits you're really polishing, but the results are definitely worth it, as it splits the shadows into their three components: hue, saturation, and luminosity. By addressing each component independently, you'll be better able to control and evaluate the result to match it to the surrounding skin. Of course, it's best to light your subject as well as you can so you don't have to spend extra time in post correcting things, but of course, we don't always have that luxury for one reason or another, or sometimes, we decide we want to adjust things after the fact. As with most techniques, aim on the side of being subtle, and of course, don't do this to every shadow, lest you'll end up with a very dimensionless portrait. 

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5 Comments

Wouldn't be much faster and easier to do it using Luminosity Mask?
There are many great tools out there to create perfect Luminosity Mask for this task.

Fstopper's writer, Nino Batista (http://ninobatista.com), has just launched a Plug In for doing so today.

romain vernede's picture

It's faster to expose/ and pose a model right on set...
Why always want to fix it later in Toshop? Is it a 2010's photographer behaviour? The plumber or others professionnals don't do it, it would be crazy...We are not different

On some sessions, that happen out of perfect hours, you deal with unpredictably running kids or their siblings or both. Their parents still want great photos. Then you breath deep, go to your computer and do the exercise.

romain vernede's picture

I can tell you the opposite while shooting wetplate with 5s exposure...
The biggest part of my job is to explain to the parents and the kids DIRECTLY they have to help me...it's a team work.

Alex Cooke's picture

"...it's best to light your subject as well as you can so you don't have to spend extra time in post correcting things, but of course, we don't always have that luxury for one reason or another"