Quick tip: Taming the sun with a Multiply layer in Photoshop

Pl_ShweYanPanMonastery_0116mulSometimes you just can’t control the clock or the sun. The monastery in Nyaung Shwe (in Myanmar’s Shan State) is famous for its historic round wood windows. But finding them with novices peering out from the study hall inside was a special treat. Harsh light or not, it was a great photo opportunity. Having a Nikon D810 certainly helped me capture the full tonal range of the image from light to dark, but another trick was needed to make the image look good…

The original capture had almost no detail in the wood, since it was burnt out by the bright sun. The time-consuming way to fix the issue would be to create an adjustment layer with curves or levels, mask it to only affect the wood, and then tweak it until it looked like I wanted. However, a much quicker, and nearly as effective solution also exists – one we walked through back at the hotel with our photo tour participants. Simply Duplicate the original layer, and sent the Blend mode of the new layer to Multiply. The result is a nice boost in contrast that has a particularly strong effect on the high key areas that need help.

Here is the original image:

Pl_ShweYanPanMonastery_0116orig

Here is the version after the 10-second fix of adding a multiply layer:

Pl_ShweYanPanMonastery_0116mul

Note that the multiply layer also brings out the rich reds of the robes, an added bonus. Background detail is lost, but in this case I’m okay with that, as it only detracts from the lines of the window. If we wanted to restore it, we could of course mask off that portion of the Multiply layer.

It doesn’t get any simpler than that! If you’d like to come on an adventure with us to create shots like this of your own, please consider joining us when we return to colorful Myanmar in December, or closer to home for some wildlife & scenic photography on our Alaskan Bear & Puffin safari. Good Shooting – David