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Contrast MaskThe first step is to create a contrast mask. This is basically just a grayscale layer that'll define where the image needs dodging or burning.
Step 1Open a photo you would like to edit. Or, you may use the photo used in this tutorial (from iStockPhoto).
Step 2Duplicate the layer (Layer> Duplicate Layer or Ctrl+J) and change the blending mode of the new layer to Soft Light.
Step 3With the top layer selected, Invert (Image> Adjustments> Invert or Ctrl+I). You should immediately notice the details revealed.
Step 4The color seems to have desaturated a little bit. To fix this, simply desaturate the top layer (Image> Adjustments> Desaturate or Shift+Ctrl+U).
Layer MaskWe need to add a layer mask so that we can filter the effect so that it's only affecting the dark areas and not the bright areas of the image.
Step 5Add a layer mask (Layer> Add Layer Mask> Reveal All).
Step 6Make sure the layer mask is activated. The thumbnail of the layer mask in the layers window should have a white border around it. If it doesn't, click on the thumbnail to activate the layer mask.
Step 7With the layer mask selected, open the Apply Image tool (Image> Apply Image) and apply these settings:
- Layer: Background
- Channel: RGB
- Invert: Checked
- Blending: Normal
- Opacity: 100%
Step 8With the layer mask still selected, open the Levels tool (Image> Adjustments> Levels or Ctrl+L). In the Levels tool, drag the middle input slider towards the left to increase the effect or towards the right to reduce the effect.
SharpeningThis part is just an additional trick that'll help sharpen the image with this effect. This part is optional.
Step 9Click on the thumbnail of the top layer to activate (not its layer mask). Use the Gassian Blur filter (Filter> Blur> Gaussian Blur) and apply a very small blur. Using a larger blur will sharpen the image more but halos may appear if you use a setting too large.
Rollover the image below to see the before and after effect