Exercise 2.11 Split contrast

17th November 2019

Split contrast is another darkroom technique that’s much easier to achieve in the digital domain. Use it to add drama to your pictures or to correct problems in exposure, for example an over-exposed sky above a correctly exposed landscape. You’ll need a good image editing programme like Photoshop to do advanced work like this because it involves using layers.

OCA Foundations In Photography Course Folder pg 86

We had to choose a photo that had a bright sky to work on and then we had specific tasks to complete in Photoshop using the image.

Firstly we had to convert the image to black and white, then add a curves adjustment layer to increase the contrast and lastly we had to paint black using the brush tool onto the mask layer.

Once the above tasks were completed we then had to add another Curves Adjustment Layer and make the image darker. I changed the Blending Mode of the layer to Multiply, selected the Layer Mask and painted black everywhere that I did not want the darkening layer to affect.

The parts that I painted were the foreground, the river and the buildings to the right of the image. The remaining image I left darkened by the new adjustments I made to the mask.

The final thing that we had to do to our image was use the dodge and burn tools to lighten and darken particular areas that needed adjusting.

I didn’t quite understand the wording in the course folder which said, ‘Now use both black and white paint on this layer to dodge and burn, brighten and darken the image. Therefore I looked it up on the internet and found this really good explanation: Non-Destructive Dodge and Burn in Photoshop photoshopessentials.com

The wording that I was confused with is explained well within this blog and it also takes you through the process from start to finish, so I was able to strengthen some things that I already knew as well as learn the technique set out in the course folder.

I didn’t manage to Dodge to a high standard which really rattled me. I have quite noticeable outlines on some parts of my image. It doesn’t help though that the areas that stand out are outlines of objects such as trees and tricky building shapes. I presume this is because I have painted over the end leaves etc…

Below is the completed black and white image which I have circled mistakes on. There are three type of mistakes, one of which was obtained during the photo shoot. These mistakes are, marks on the lens which are circled in red, Outlines on objects which are circled in brown and areas that were left on the image from painting it black which are circles in pink.


The adjustments with the Dodge and Burn tools are very slight. I lightened parts of the sky, the wall and the trees in the bottom right hand corner of the image. With the Dodging tool I tried to gain some depth back in the buildings by darkening them and I tried to erase the white line mistake but this proved quite difficult, so I actually left it alone. To complete the image I lightened it all.

This image still has many problem areas within it that need working on, mostly the mistakes and it is in need of colour correction. I have learnt so much from this exercise and worked through it quite well because of the extra research, notes and practicing that I have been doing.

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