How To Work With Shadows And Highlights

How To Work With Shadows And Highlights - Mastin Labs

If you’re using Mastin Labs packs without taking advantage of the tone profiles inside the presets, you’re missing out! The tone profiles were matched to scans from a Frontier film scanner and represent real settings used to scan the films that the packs emulate. They can be incredibly useful in helping you fine-tune the shadows and highlights in your photos.

The tone profiles live just below the film presets in all Mastin Labs packs and can be a little confusing to look at before you know what they all do. Still, once you get the hang of using them, they’ll become a vital part of your workflow. Here’s what they all do, and when to use them.

Highlight Soft And Highlight Hard

Mastin Labs presets are based on real film, which retains highlight detail much better than digital. Applying a Mastin Labs preset will bring back a lot of highlight information on its own but to reign the highlights in even more use the “highlight soft” tone profile. It increases detail and range in the highlights without affecting the rest of the photo.

Highlight hard decreases highlight detail slightly by increasing contrast. It adds pop to the highlights and is especially useful in situations with a lot of haze, like heavy lens flare or fog.

Shadow Soft And Shadow Hard

Shadow soft increases detail in the shadow portion of an image. It’s an excellent tool for times that you feel your image has too much contrast, but you don’t want to change the look of the entire picture. Shadow soft is excellent for indoor, low light, and dark and moody photos since it can pop detail into the shadows without changing the overall mood.

Shadow hard can add depth and richness to the shadows of an image by increasing contrast in only the shadow areas.

All Soft and All Hard

The “all soft” and “all hard” tone profiles affect the contrast of both shadows and highlights without touching the exposure slider.

All soft is amazing for softening the look of an entire image and is a staple in the “light and airy” look. It can work wonders on high-contrast scenes and is a go-to to scale back the look of an applied preset if you feel it looks too contrasty.

All hard is bold and punchy since it adds contrast to both highlights and shadows. It can accentuate the look of hard light, looks great with some types of fashion photography, and, like “highlight hard,” is useful to make low-contrast conditions pop.

Get to know these tools, and you’ll be able to harness the full power of Mastin Labs presets.

If you get confused, remember that the “soft” tone profiles reduce contrast and add detail to a given area while “hard” tone profiles add contrast and reduce detail.

Cover photo by teksomolika