Step 5: Increase Contrast In Dark Feathers

The next challenge is to see if we can increase the contrast in the dark feathers without causing posteri-zation in the white feathers or wreaking havoc with what is now an excellent background. To accomplish this objective, use Curves and a mask layer to protect the entire image from being changed except for the dark feathers area.

■ Choose Layer >- New Adjustment Layer ^ Curves to get the New Layer dialog box. Type Dark Feathers in the Name box; click OK to get the Curves dialog box.

To increase contrast in the dark feathers area, we need to increase the slope of the Curves line to make the feathers look just as we want them. When making these adjustments, don't be concerned about the rest of the image because we'll mask it out.

■ Click and drag the cursor all over the image where dark feathers are while watching the point slide up and down in the Curves dialog box. You notice that it pretty much stays in the bottom-left corner — therefore this area of the curve needs adjusting.

■ To increase contrast, slope must be increased, so click the line and pull down and to the right. Type 27 and 23 in the Input and Output box to set the first point.

■ Click the line above the first point to set a second point. Type 63 and 77 in the Input and Output boxes. The Curves dialog box should now look like the one shown in Figure 8.13. If you want to make adjustments to these points, you can click either point and use the arrow keys to move them up, down, left, or right one level at a time. As soon as you have the two points set correctly, click OK to apply the settings. Incidentally, if you need to reset Curves, press Alt and the Cancel button will change into a Reset button; click Reset and you are ready to continue adjusting the curve. If you set a point that you no longer want, just click it and drag it off the Curves dialog box.

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