Lesson 22: Fine tuning - highlights & shadows, temperature

If you are completely new to editing your photos and are still getting comfortable with lessons 20 and 21, I suggest you skip this lesson for now and come back to it later. Or read it so you are familiar with what is available, but don't try to implement it just yet!

However, if you have some comfort with editing, here are some tricks for fine tuning your images, particularly ones that might be a little more problematic.

Highlights and shadows:

Increasing the "shadow detail" means that the darker portions of your photo will get lighter. This is a great way to lighten faces in a photo where your background is very bright so you don't want to increase overall brightness (for example from lesson 14).

Note: I don't typically find it very useful to decrease shadow detail or play with highlights on smartphone photos.

Here is yesterday's photo - Clarity 50%, Brightness +44, Chrome 50%

Here is yesterday's photo - Clarity 50%, Brightness +44, Chrome 50%

I increased the Shadow Detail to +40. It's a subtle difference, but gives the moment just that bit lighter a feel.

I increased the Shadow Detail to +40. It's a subtle difference, but gives the moment just that bit lighter a feel.

Temperature (or white balance):

Ok, there was a point in time a few years ago when I was searching high and low for this feature! Thankfully it is now available on several apps, including Camera+. 

As I mentioned in lesson 21, I like to edit my photos slightly on the “cool” side (more blue) rather than the “warm” side (more yellow). This is in line with my personal aesthetic tastes, which tend towards more modern and contemporary rather than vintage or retro. Certainly, you should follow your own personal taste and style (and I have a great module in The Photosanity Intensive that helps you to explore this more for yourself).

Either way, temperature is a great tool to know about, because you can use it to edit your photos to be either more cool or more warm. It can also be helpful for photos with low natural light (for example from lesson 14) that may come out quite yellow due to artificial lighting. 

Note: in some apps, this feature might be called “white balance."

You can go cool...

You can go cool...

...or you can go warm

...or you can go warm

Put this into action:

  • Take or select a photo where the background is very bright and edit it using highlights and shadows (specifically lightening the shadows).
  • Take or select a photo in very warm, artificial light, and edit it using temperature or white balance.

Note: these are suggestions for how you can best play around with these editing features. They are not part of this week’s assignment, although you are welcome to share the results of your experimentation in the Facebook group.

Today’s photo prompt: What makes you light up?
Next up: Action day!

Note: I'll be giving you daily photo prompts to help you in your photo-a-day project, but they are completely optional. Ultimately you should choose the photo for your project that best reflects what you most want to remember about the day.

Go back to the 30 Days HQ >>>