Select only Highlights, Shadows or Midtones

There are situations when you want to adjust only Higlights, Shadows or Midtones. To do that in Photoshop, first open image you want to apply adjustment. Then go to Select > Color Range.

Templates, Actions, Patterns, Styles, Frames

Color Range dialog will open. Click on triangle to expand Select: drop-down list and choose Highlights, Midtones or Shadows. Click OK button.

Color Range dialog in Adobe Photoshop
Color Range dialog in Adobe Photoshop

Selection will be loaded on picture.

Selection loaded and visible as marching ants in Adobe Photoshop
Selection loaded and visible as marching ants in Adobe Photoshop

With selection on picture go to ADJUSTMENTS panel and choose adjustment you want to apply. In this case I choose Curves. Mask based on selection will be created along with Adjustment Layer on LAYERS palette. To adjust Highlights (Midtones, Shadows or any color) click on Hand icon (TAT) to activate on-screen adjustment.

Click on TAT to select it
Click on TAT to select it

Click on area of image you want to adjust, hold down mouse button and drag upward or downward.

Click on image with TAT (Target Adjustment Tool) and drag up or down
Click on image with TAT (Target Adjustment Tool) and drag up or down

When you finish adjustment, final step is to Apply Blur filter to soften edge of  Mask (selection). Click on Mask to activate it then go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur.. Adjust  Radius slider to soften edges for fine transition between adjusted and non adjusted range of colors.

Soften mask edges using blur tool in Adobe Photoshop
Soften mask edges using blur tool in Adobe Photoshop

Reference:
Photoshop Help / Making selections

Product used in this tutorial: Adobe Photoshop CS5 Extended

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