Localized Image Enhancements in Photoshop, Part 2

I have always liked to modify small sections of images to enhance the overall balance. In this article we look at how to do this in Photoshop.
Go back to Part 1.

Infrared
This is our starting image. It was shot in shade and is quite low contrast.
Localized Image Enhancements in Photoshop

Applying Levels is a standard thing I normally do to IR images. Now the trouble is, as I move the black point control around, I find different settings work best for different parts of the image. So I am going to need to apply different adjustments across the image.
Localized Image Enhancements in Photoshop

So the first thing is to apply the Layers -> New Adjustment Layer -> Levels.
Localized Image Enhancements in Photoshop

Just in case you end up working with multiple layers, choose the Use previous layer checkbox so what you do will only apply to this layer.
Localized Image Enhancements in Photoshop

Set the Levels to the most extreme change you want in the image
Localized Image Enhancements in Photoshop

In the Layers palette you will now see a Levels adjustment layer with its own layer mask filled with white. Remember that in layer masks white means the layer or effect is shown in full, black means it is not shown and shades of grey apply it partly in proportion.
Localized Image Enhancements in Photoshop

If we now put a white to black gradient in the mask we can vary the effect from none to full. With this image it doesn’t work because the effects need to be much more local.
Localized Image Enhancements in Photoshop

For this image better is to paint into the mask. Fill the mask with white, select black and the paintbrush tool. Pick a suitable size soft brush and a low opacity so that you can reduce the effect strength you want bit by bit. Note that with an image where you only want the effect in a few places it is better to fill the mask with black and then paint in the white where you need it.
Localized Image Enhancements in Photoshop

After painting for some time, correcting when you overdo it by painting in the opposite color, we end up with a satisfactory solution. Notice the mask contains areas of grey.
Localized Image Enhancements in Photoshop

Go on to Part 3.

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