Working with the Highlights & Shadows Controls

You use the Highlights & Shadows adjustment controls to correct the exposure in images shot in complex lighting conditions. For example, you can use the Highlights & Shadows controls to correct the exposure of the darker areas (shadows) of an image that was otherwise correctly exposed for silhouette. You can also use the Highlights & Shadows controls to retrieve detail in extremely bright areas of an image. This is particularly useful when adjusting images of clouds or snow, or images correctly exposed for the shadow areas. Using the Highlights & Shadows controls is the best way to optimize your image’s exposure in the highlights, midtones, or shadows without compromising detail in the other areas of tonality.

You can also brush the Highlights & Shadows adjustment on selected parts of an image. For more information, see Making Brushed Adjustments.

Adjusting Brightness Values in the Highlight Areas of the Image

When you want to adjust the brightness values in the highlight areas of the image without affecting the midtones and shadows, you can adjust the Highlights parameter. Although the human eye is more sensitive to details in shadow areas than in highlight areas, such as snow, there is usually a fair amount of visual information that you can retrieve in the highlights using the Highlights parameter controls. Another example of when to use the Highlights controls is when the background of your image is correctly exposed, and the foreground of the image is slightly overexposed. In this case, you use the Highlights controls to make the overexposed foreground match the exposure of the correctly exposed background.

Figure. Image before and after a Highlights adjustment.
To adjust the highlights in an image
  1. Select an image.

  2. In the Highlights & Shadows area of the Adjustments inspector or the Adjustments pane of the Inspector HUD, adjust the Highlights parameter by doing one of the following:

    • By default, the Highlights slider is set to the left side of the slider control. Drag the slider to the right to darken the highlight areas of the image, and drag the slider back to the left to reduce the darkening effect in the highlights.

    • Click the left or right arrow in the Highlights value slider to change the brightness of the highlights in the image by 5 percent increments, or drag in the value field.

      The left arrow reduces the darkening effect in the highlights, making them brighter. The right arrow increases the darkening effect in the highlights, making them darker.

    • By default, the Highlights value slider is set to 0.0. Double-click the number in the value slider, then enter a value from 0.0 to 100.0 and press Return.

      Figure. Highlights controls in the Highlights & Shadows area of the Adjustments inspector.

Aperture isolates the areas of the image with highlights and updates them as you change the parameter value.

Adjusting Brightness Values in the Shadow Areas of the Image

Adjusting the shadow areas is necessary when the shadow areas in an image are underexposed. A good example is an image shot in a doorway, where the background is correctly exposed but the foreground is a little underexposed. Adjusting the shadows lightens the pixels in the shadow areas only, bringing out detail that would normally have been shades of black or dark gray.

Figure. Image before and after a Shadows adjustment.
To adjust the shadows in an image
  1. Select an image.

  2. In the Highlights & Shadows area of the Adjustments inspector or the Adjustments pane of the Inspector HUD, adjust the Shadows parameter by doing one of the following:

    • By default, the Shadows slider is set to the left side of the slider control. Drag the slider to the right to lighten the shadow areas of the image, and drag the slider back to the left to reduce the lightening effect in the shadows.

    • Click the left or right arrow in the Shadows value slider to change the brightness of the shadows in the image by 5 percent increments, or drag in the value field.

      The left arrow reduces the lightening effect in the shadows, making them darker. The right arrow increases the lightening effect in the shadows, making them lighter.

    • By default, the Shadows value slider is set to 0.0. Double-click the number in the value slider, then enter a value from 0.0 to 100.0 and press Return.

      Figure. Shadows controls in the Highlights & Shadows area of the Adjustments inspector.

Aperture isolates the shadow areas of the image and updates them as you change the parameter value.

Using the Highlights & Shadows Advanced Settings

The Highlights & Shadows adjustment includes the following advanced parameters:

Figure. Advanced controls in the Highlights & Shadows area of the Adjustments inspector.

Adjusting the Radius of the Highlights & Shadows Controls

You use the Radius parameter controls to adjust the area around each pixel that Aperture uses to assess the tonal area that each pixel inhabits. The larger the Radius value is, the larger the area used to determine each pixel’s tonality. The Radius controls can have a large impact on the behavior of the Highlights & Shadows controls, because the Radius controls either increase or decrease the range of pixels used to determine how light or dark each individual pixel should be.

To adjust the radius of the Highlights & Shadows controls
  1. If necessary, click the Advanced disclosure triangle to show the advanced Highlights & Shadows controls in the Adjustments inspector or the Adjustments pane of the Inspector HUD.

    Figure. Radius controls in the Highlights & Shadows area of the Adjustments inspector.
  2. Adjust the Radius parameter by doing one of the following:

    • Drag the slider to the right to increase the radius of the area Aperture uses to assess whether the pixel requires a Highlights or Shadows adjustment, and drag the slider back to the left to reduce the radius.

    • Click the left or right arrow in the Radius value slider to adjust the radius incrementally, or drag in the value field.

      The left arrow reduces the radius of the pixel area, and the right arrow increases it.

    • By default, the Radius value slider is set to 200.00. Double-click the number in the Radius value slider, then enter a value from 1.0 to 1000.0 and press Return.

Aperture uses the new Radius setting to determine each pixel’s tonality in relation to the pixels that surround it.

Adjusting the Color for Highlights & Shadows Controls

You use the Color Correction parameter controls to adjust the amount of saturation applied during Highlights and Shadows adjustments. However, the saturation adjustment is most noticeable in the shadows.

Figure. Image before and after a Color Correction adjustment.
To adjust the saturation applied during Highlights and Shadows adjustments
  1. If necessary, click the Advanced disclosure triangle to show the advanced Highlights & Shadows controls in the Adjustments inspector or the Adjustments pane of the Inspector HUD.

    Figure. Color Correction controls in the Highlights & Shadows area of the Adjustments inspector.
  2. Adjust the Color Correction parameter by doing one of the following:

    • Drag the Color Correction slider to the right to increase the amount of saturation applied during Highlights and Shadows adjustments, and drag the slider back to the left to reduce the saturation.

    • Click the left or right arrow in the Color Correction value slider, or drag in the value field.

      The left arrow reduces the saturation, and the right arrow increases it.

    • By default, the Color Correction value slider is set to 0.0. Double-click the number in the Color Correction value slider, then enter a value from –100.0 to 100.0 and press Return.

The new Color Correction setting determines the amount of saturation applied to the highlights and shadows during Highlights and Shadows adjustments.

Adjusting High Tonal Width for Highlights & Shadows Controls

You use the High Tonal Width parameter controls to set the range of highlights that Aperture adjusts with the Highlights controls. Increasing the High Tonal Width parameter value widens the range of highlight tonal values that are adjusted toward the midtones. If you want to limit the Highlights adjustment to a range of highlight values that are closer to white, you decrease the High Tonal Width parameter value.

Figure. Image before and after a High Tonal adjustment.
To adjust the high tonal width of the Highlights & Shadows controls
  1. If necessary, click the Advanced disclosure triangle to show the advanced Highlights & Shadows controls in the Adjustments inspector or the Adjustments pane of the Inspector HUD.

    Figure. High Tonal Width controls in the Highlights & Shadows area of the Adjustments inspector.
  2. Adjust the High Tonal Width parameter by doing one of the following:

    • Drag the High Tonal Width slider to the right to increase the tonal range of the Highlights adjustment, and drag the slider back to the left to reduce the tonal range.

    • Click the left or right arrow in the High Tonal Width value slider to adjust the tonal range of the Highlights adjustment by 5 percent increments, or drag in the value field.

      The left arrow reduces the tonal range, and the right arrow increases it.

    • By default, the High Tonal Width value slider is set to 40.0. Double-click the number in the High Tonal value slider, then enter a value from 0.0 to 100.0 and press Return.

Aperture uses the new High Tonal Width setting to determine the range of highlight tonal values that are taken into account during a Highlights adjustment. The tonal range begins at pure white, and increasing the High Tonal Width parameter value broadens the tonal range to include tonal values closer to the midtones.

Adjusting Midtone Contrast for Highlights & Shadows Controls

You use the Mid Contrast parameter controls to adjust the contrast of the midtones.

To adjust the midtone contrast of the Highlights & Shadows controls
  1. If necessary, click the Advanced disclosure triangle to show the advanced Highlights & Shadows controls in the Adjustments inspector or the Adjustments pane of the Inspector HUD.

    Figure. Mid Contrast controls in the Highlights & Shadows area of the Adjustments inspector.
  2. Adjust the Mid Contrast parameter by doing one of the following:

    • Drag the Mid Contrast slider to the right to increase the contrast Aperture applies to the midtones in the image, and drag the slider back to the left to reduce the contrast.

    • Click the left or right arrow in the Mid Contrast value slider, or drag in the value field.

      The left arrow reduces the contrast in the midtones, and the right arrow increases it.

    • By default, the Mid Contrast value slider is set to 0.0. Double-click the number in the Mid Contrast value slider, then enter a value from –100.0 to 100.0 and press Return.

The contrast in the midtones is updated as you change the parameter value.

Adjusting Low Tonal Width for Highlights & Shadows Controls

You use the Low Tonal Width parameter controls to set the range of shadows that Aperture adjusts with the Shadows controls. Increasing the Low Tonal Width parameter value widens the range of shadow tonal values that are adjusted toward the midtones. If you want to limit the Shadows adjustment to a range of shadow values that are closer to black, you decrease the Low Tonal Width parameter value.

Figure. Image before and after a Low Tonal Width adjustment.
To adjust the low tonal width of the Highlights & Shadows controls
  1. If necessary, click the Advanced disclosure triangle to show the advanced Highlights & Shadows controls in the Adjustments inspector or the Adjustments pane of the Inspector HUD.

    Figure. Low Tonal Width controls in the Highlights & Shadows area of the Adjustments inspector.
  2. Adjust the Low Tonal Width parameter by doing one of the following:

    • Drag the Low Tonal Width slider to the right to increase the tonal range of the Shadows adjustment, and drag the slider back to the left to reduce the tonal range.

    • Click the left or right arrow in the Low Tonal Width value slider to adjust the tonal range of the Shadows adjustment by single increments, or drag in the value field.

      The left arrow reduces the tonal range, and the right arrow increases it.

    • By default, the Low Tonal Width value slider is set to 40.0. Double-click the number in the Low Tonal Width value slider, then enter a value from 0.0 to 100.0 and press Return.

Aperture uses the new Low Tonal Width setting to determine the range of shadow tonal values that are taken into account during a Shadows adjustment. The tonal range begins at pure black, and increasing the Low Tonal Width parameter value broadens the tonal range to include tonal values closer to the midtones.