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Increasing Local Contrast

Here is another way to increase local contrast without using the brightness/contrast control. Experiment with different variables and have fun. This can be a very effective tool, especially for doing spot contrast enhancement - which Photoshop generally has no tools for. Let's try it on this image. Click on the image for a large version. Notice that the main object of the photograph is flat and dark. Normally, by adjusting the brightness and contrast this can be improved. The problem is the sky will be ruined in the process. So, what to do? How about if we could find an EASY way to adjust simply the inside area?

Church-ACR-sky.jpg (105516 bytes)

Try this. Using the Magic Wand selection tool select the adobe blocks. Holding down the shift key (PC) continue to select most of the interior. Always use Feather after selecting anything. In this case try 20 pixels. This will include most of the selection to one degree or another.

Now select Filter, Sharpen, Unsharp Mask. I used Amount 100%, Radius 20 pixels, and Threshold 0. Experiment with different values. Click OK and use Select, Deselect. What could be easier? Remember to adjust the variables for larger images.

Church-ACR-sky-1.jpg (133610 bytes)

Now, how about a little touchup? Use Select, Reselect. The marquee reappears. Now use Image, Adjust, Shadow/Highlight. Set Shadow at 15%, Tonal width 50%, and Radius at 40. Click OK. Select, Deselect.

Now, just for grins, let's darken the sky a little. Image, Adjust, Selective Color. Select Blues and add Black using the slider. Now select Cyans and add Black. Click OK.

Church-ACR-sky-2.jpg (149167 bytes)

Ok, OK, so you have some halo effect. This was down and dirty.  Too much feathering. Here is the effect if done carefully. Have fun! Oh yeah, while we doing all this the birds just happened to fly in. Birds do that.

Church-Final-1.jpg (144035 bytes)