Brush Out Glare in Photoshop to Improve Photographic Images - by Philip Cohen
December 13, 2011
Photographing shiny or reflective objects and paintings often results in glare and highlights that may wash out detail or color. This is a frequent problem for metals, ceramics, and glass, even paintings with glossy paint.
The previous post on ASK Harriete used Photoshop's Mask tool and the Brush tool to remove glare. If you didn't know how to use these tools (like me), this post will help you learn a new Photoshop skill.
In today's post, professional photographer Philip Cohen will show us how to use Photoshop to remedy this problem. I have added many details for step-by-step instructions after practicing the skill for myself.
In the photographic image above, a square plate by Malcolm Nicoll shows a glare spot regardless of where Philip Cohen places the light.
Look closely at the glare in the lower-left corner. While the glass plate looks shiny, this is not a good photo!
The first step in eliminating the excessive glare problem is shooting two images; first, one image with the light in one location and the second image after moving the light to get the spot of glare in a different location.
Since you want both of these images to match perfectly, do not move the camera or the object/artwork being photographed. Move only the light.
Side by Side Comparison of Images 1. and 2.
Notice that the spot of glare changes location from lower left to upper right.
Now that you have two identical images with the glare in different locations:
OPEN the LAYERS Palette
OPEN both images in Photoshop.
COPY Image 2. (SELECT>All; EDIT> Copy)
CLICK on Image 1.
Paste Image 2. (EDIT> Paste)
This will automatically create a new layer.
Both images are layered in one image in Photoshop.
Select both layers by holding the SHIFT button down and clicking on both layers in the Layer Palette.
Align both images in the Edit Menu
EDIT MENU>CLICK on Auto-Align Layers. (If you have an old Photoshop like me, Auto-Align doesn't exist. This is why it is so important to make sure that both of your images are identical except for the glare spot. I understand that Photoshop Elements is a lot less expensive and the updated version has Auto_Align.)
Both Images are layered. Click in the Layers Palette on the top layer.
Click the Mask icon at the bottom of the Layers palette. (You can see this in the above image. The Mask icon looks like a square with a circle in the center.)
Before I started this tutorial I had never used a Mask in Photoshop. (That shows you that I am still learning.) Since I was very confused, I found a great free tutorial about using a Mask in Layers.
Perhaps the most important tip is to "replace the word "mask" in your mind with "transparency" because that's exactly what a layer mask does. It allows you to control a layer's level of transparency. That's it!
Learning how to use a Mask is a super trick. Before learning about Masks, I used the eraser tool. Now I realize that the Eraser tool is more primitive, less exact, and fraught with problems. Using Masks is much better. I recommend you learn about Masks from PhotoshopEssentials.com.
With the top layer highlighted:
Practice with the brush.
The black foreground square (left) allows you to delete the top layer.
FLIPPING BETWEEN WHITE AND BLACK SQUARE, foreground & background changes the brush.
The White square allows you to restore the layer.
Once you experiment you will see the differences.
You can also use the Opacity option with the brush for subtle control.
Keep brushing until it’s perfect. (You can un-brush by switching the brush color to white.)
Voila!! No glare!
Thank you Philip Cohen for sharing your professional expertise.
I am glad that I learned how to do this. Learning this new Photoshop skill will help me improve my photos. Learning new skills like this is a great brain exercise too!
This new skill with Layers and using a Mask requires practice. I spent more than an hour fooling around with the images in this post. Learning Photoshop or Photoshop Elements is a skill for success for all artists and makers.
Thank you to Philip Cohen and Malcolm Nicoll for allowing ASK Harriete to use these images. If you would like to submit your images for review, please contact ASK Harriete.