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How to identify clipped shadows and highlights in Photoshop

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October 26th, 2009, 12:34 AM
Mega Super Mommy
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: San Jose, Ca
Posts: 1,000
So you look at your histogram and you see that the graph touches the right hand side, meaning you have some highlight clipping going on. However, it's not immediately obvious from your image where that clipping is. In order to recover it (e.g. by masking out previous edits) or protect it from further clipping in post processing, you need to be able to identify the areas which are showing as clipped.

Here's how:

1) Layer > New adjustment layer > Threshold > OK (or click on the little half black, half white circle in the layers palette and select threshold).

2) Slide the slider all the way to the right, to a value of 255. Any highlights which have been clipped will be visible on your image as white pixels.

3) Slide the slider all the way to the left, to a value of 1. Any shadows which have been clipped will be visible on your image as black pixels.

It is useful to check the threshold levels of any image before you begin your post processing, as it gives a quick and easy idea of where the 'delicate' portions of the image are, which can then be protected during post processing.
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