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Adjust highlights and shadows with Tone.
What is Tone?
Tone refers to the varying levels of brightness in an image or video that create the shadows, midtones, and highlights that make up the details of the scene. The range of tones from highlights to shadows is called dynamic range. Human vision is capable of seeing a massive dynamic range, from the brightest brights to the darkest darks, but cameras often struggle to reproduce this. A portrait against a sunset is a classic example of something we can see perfectly, but cameras struggle to capture.
Tone is now handled automatically by our modern smartphone cameras, often through HDR modes, but they don’t always capture what we see. The Tone tool allows you to decrease the intensity of the highlights and shadows in your image both for correction and expression.
Where it is:
Why would you use it?
The most common use of the Tone tool is for correction. It’s common for important elements of a scene to be hidden in shadows. Unlike other tools like Exposure and Contrast, the Shadows tool allows you to only brighten the shadows, revealing details that were too dark to see while leaving the rest of the image alone.
Similarly, the Highlights tool darkens the highlights so that you can reduce their intensity without affecting the rest of the scene.
Typically, there are more details that can be recovered from the shadows than the highlights. If the details in the highlights are important to the scene, it’s best to darken the image when capturing it to preserve highlights, then use the Shadows tool to bring the shadows back in.
Emotionally, the tone tools can have the same impact as the Contrast tool.
Strong Shadows & Highlights (High Contrast): Energetic, dramatic, happy, focused, hot
Soft Shadows & Highlights (Low Contrast): Calm, relaxed, melancholy, tired, cold
Tips & Tricks:
1. Most presets change tone in one way or another. Typically, it makes the most sense to choose a preset first and then adjust the Tone tool.
2. Unique looks can be had by combining the Contrast and Tone tools. Increasing contrast has an effect on color and midtones that can really make an image pop, but it can also push the shadows or highlights too much. By using the tool to push back again the Contrast tool, you can get the dynamic look of contrast without the extreme tones.
Note how the red cloth is brighter in the final image and there is more definition in the skin, yet shadows and highlights are controlled.
3. Double tapping the slider returns it to 0.