Planet Photoshop

Have Photoshop Select The Shadows And Highlights

This is a trick we use for prepress and for photo retouching because it instantly lets you select all the shadow areas (or highlight areas if you wish) for a particular image, and it’s so easy because Photoshop does all the work. To have Photoshop select just the shadow areas in your image, go under the Select menu and choose Color Range. When the dialog appears, in the Select pop-up menu, choose Shadows (or Highlights), and click OK. The shadow areas are instantly selected. This is ideal for situations where your scanner has plugged up the detail in the shadow areas (pretty common in most sub-$1,000 desktop scanners). Once the shadows are selected, you can “open them up” by going to the Levels dialog (under the Image menu, under Adjustments) and moving the midtones Input Levels slider to the left to bring back some of the shadow detail lost in the scan.

Posted by Corey Barker

Corey is an education and curriculum developer for KelbyOne. He is a graduate of the Ringling School of Art & Design in Sarasota, FL, with a degree in Illustration. Over the years, Corey has worked as a graphic artist in a variety of disciplines such as illustration, commercial design, large format printing, motion graphics, web design and photography. His expertise in Photoshop and Illustrator have earned him numerous awards in illustration, graphic design and photography. Using Photoshop since version 2, his expertise and creativity have evolved exponentially with every new version, which makes Corey an invaluable addition to the KelbyOne team.

3 comments on “Have Photoshop Select The Shadows And Highlights

  1. This looks like it might be close to a solution to a problem I’m having with Photoshop CS3 on Windows XP. I’ve searched google for a while now with little avail.

    When I ctrl-click on the thumbnail of the layer in which I’d like to sellect all the non-transparent pixels, it selects almost all the colored pixels… even some of the semi-transparent (translucent) ones… but it does not select the very translucent pixels (i think these are shadows)… but it’s weird because the layer is completely rasterized and there are no layer effects.

    how do I select even the very translucent pixels?


  2. well, i hacked a solution based on your post. so, thank you. instead of selecting shadows, I clicked on the eyedrop with a plus and clicked all over the shadows a bunch of times in different places, and i clicked on all the different colors of my image, and i even clicked on the completely transparent parts and that did not cause the completely transparent parts to be selected. at the end, i was left with a completely inclusive selection of my image, shadows and all… i hope :/ there’s gotta be an easier, more definitive way of selecting all non-transparent pixels on a layer. know it? i thought that’s what ctrl-click on thumbnail did, but it didn’t selelct the very translucent shadows in the layer, only some of the shadow.