This isĀ an easy way to brighten dark shadows in your landscape photos using Photoshop CC.

One of the best features of the newer versions of Photoshop is the Camera RAW filter, and this is what we are using today in this example.



Steve here from post-processing mastery and in this Photoshop tutorial am gonna show you an easy way to brighten dark shadows in Photoshop CC. So the shot that we are looking at the moment is quite dark exposure and I had to kind of under expose for the sky here, otherwise we would have lost a lot of the detail in the highlights. Obviously as a result a lot of this is gonna be too dark. So the way I am gonna brighten the shadows now is actually one of the real big benefits of the later versions of Photoshop and that is by using the Camera Raw filter. 

So I will just duplicate the background layer, so we can work on a new layer and don’t make any changes to the background that we don’t change; and I will just convert it to a smart object so that we could possibly tweak the filter settings after we apply them. And with that done, I will just go to the filter menu and you will see here if you are using Photoshop CC, I think it was in CS6 as well; you have this option here for Camera Raw filter. What this gives you is the Camera Raw Engine which is what you would use, what Photoshop uses to open your raw files when you open them directly into Photoshop for your Raw Conversions.

Camera Raw Filter

Figure – 1: Camera Raw Filter

And the reason I like to come back and use this is simply because these shadows and highlights sliders are just so effective.

So what I will do is just picking the shadows to begin with, I will just slide the slider up towards the right hand side, maybe the blacks will help a little bit as well to bring a bit detail there and I think I might brighten the image overall, So will just use the exposure slider, careful not to over expose anything just keeping an eye on histogram there. And if I did, like if I did wanted to brighten the whole thing a bit more than that, I can recover some of the highlights using this slider here.


Figure – 2: Before and After

We need to be careful when doing this, using sliders to make sure that it doesn’t end up looking like a dodgy HDR image.

I think this is a good start for us to just click OK and once it’s finished applying these settings we can just compare the before and after. So here we go, this is the after with more detail.

We can see some more brightness coming into the shadow areas here and compared to this original background layer you can see that’s a lot more bright and you know we can see nicely into those shadow details now.

From here on I would continue using my post processing workflow to edit this image to completion. If you are not familiar with my workflow, I have got a PDF cheat sheet that you can download, is about 20 pages long and just goes into the six major steps toward my own workflow and just describes how I take an image literally from a raw file to finished product.

So if you want that, there should be button on the screen at the moment in the video window where you can just click the button and download that PDF, otherwise just hit the subscribe button to make sure you don’t miss any of my upcoming Photoshop tutorials on YouTube.