May 21, 2008

A Lame Way To Clip Skin Highlights

I'm no professional or even advanced-amateur photographer, but sometimes people ask me to make photos. Since I do suck at that, and I don't have my own studio stuffed with lights, softboxes and stuff, I often take photos of people poorly lit with lots of highlights on their skin. There's a lame way to remove those.

I'm not sure if it's possible to achieve this using just curves or levels, here's how I do it.

1. Go to Levels and move the center slider to the right as far as neccessary so highlighted areas turn white and not-so-highlighted areas turn dark. Sometimes instead of moving center slider, you will need to gather black, white and center slide in the middle.

2. Increase Contrast until you have a dark background with islands of white highlighted areas. Sometimes background is completely black, and you can just delete it after magic wand selection. Sometimes you need to select white by colour and delete inverted selection.

3. Fill alhpa-selection of remaining areas with skin colour you can pick from not-highlighted parts. Depending on different parts of face illumination, you may want to fill highlighted areas with different colours.

4. The next is up to blur and opacity tuning.

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