Shadow & Highlight controls

Version 10 of Photo & Graphic Designer and Designer Pro include two new brightness controls on the the InfoBar in the Enhance Photo Tool, for Shadows brightness and Highlights brightness.

 shadow and highlights tools

How do I access the new tools?

Both tools are found in the Photo Tool.  Select a photo and click on the Enhance Tool on the Photo Tool flyout (the camera icon), you will see the Shadow and Highlights brightness controls shown above on the InfoBar.

What does the Shadows brightness control do? 

The new Shadows Brightness control will lighten darker areas of photos without affecting the mid-tone or lighter areas. This is more sophisticated than a simple brightness or levels adjustment in that it’s selective about what dark areas it enhances.  It typically avoids adjusting very small areas, e.g. single dark pixels, and only adjusts larger areas of darker colors.


Shadow brightness controls

The original image is on the left. The center one has been enhanced with the new Shadows Brightness control. The right example has simply had the brightness adjusted, which does make the shadows lighter, but results in the image looking washed out as some lighter and mid-tone shades have also been lightened.

What does the Highlights brightness control do?

The Highlights control similarly can reduce the brightness of the very brightest parts of the image.


highlights brightness example

The highlights have been reduced on the example on the right, revealing more details of the quilt pattern without affecting the brightness of other parts of the image.

Note neither function can bring back data that is missing from the original photo. For example it’s common with many lower-end digital cameras that really bright areas will clip or ‘burn out’ (e.g. clouds) and just show as pure white. The Highlights tool cannot bring back detail missing from such clipped whites.

Are the shadows or highlights brightness altered when selecting to auto enhance a photo?

No.  Photo enhance only affects the default photo controls and not the shadow or highlights brightness controls. 



Looking for information on other photo tools?

Enhance tool | Clip | Clone | Magic erase | Photo Healing tool | Red eye | Content aware scale | Content aware zoom | Levels | Panorama | Perspective correction | Exif | Opacity masks | Photo hue | Color erase/ selection | Background Erase | Photo Effects


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