Elements: Shadows/Highlights, even an adjustment of 1 causes major changes to some photos

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  • Updated 1 year ago
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On some images when editing, Auto Smart Fix, Auto Contrast, or even a setting on 1 in the Lighten Shadows command cause extreme changes to the image.I have seen this in multiple previous versions and still see it in version 14 (I have not upgraded to 15, will likely wait for 16). This image sort of highlights the problem as it is of sand dunes at Wight Sands NM, but I do see this problem enough that it is annoying. I am attaching an image that you can try this with. Note that I did post this in the forum and there it was recommended that I post it here.
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John Tangney

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Posted 1 year ago

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Steve Lehman

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Nice  pic.  On our beaches where I am we see lots of those cool shots.  I can recommend Light Room which has gradual changes in its adjustments especially in lighting and shadows.  I have used Photoshop with slight changes for shadows but its all manual adjustments.  Try to go beyond the "auto" somethings which leave the adjustments to Photoshop.  It's only a machine.  I hardly ever use the "auto" features.  I have been an old hat at this with adjustments to almost everything - and I am picky.  But when I want some special changes to lighting in shadows, I open Light Room and it's okay to run two or more Adobe programs at once.  Also, Adobe Creative Suite is good for this as it runs everything all at once while working intense lighting.  Also, Photoshop Elements, Photoshop CC or Light Room CC, all have a real light you can shine into (onto?) shadows or dark area which will light up an area that is meant to have more lighting.  Go to Filers>Render>Lighting Effects and select the lighting you want in a picture and then select the area you want it to shine onto.  Shadows may not need this but dark photographs, such as in night clubs do.  I have pictured stage lighting on a subject with the greatest of a real light to shine, whether a spot light or flood, it makes more light, as if a real light is on.  So these can have gradual changes or extreme changes in lighting.  The shadows adjustment can be on or off but in most cases it really can make a difference.  For shadows, sometimes I go to curves or levels which will give you the best in gradual differences in Elements or Photoshop.   

Happy computing.  
Steve Lehman, MCSE responding.   
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John Tangney

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Lightroom is a bit more than I am looking for. Photoshop Elements generally provides what I need, and I supplement it with the Topaz Labs bundle of add-ons, and that is where I would like to see this issue fixed. However,In this case, the dunes really are white, not the typical color of sand. Here and when I have shots with lots of snow or ice, I sometimes run into this problem. It is not just with the "Auto" functions, but also manual adjustments like the lighten darken shadows or darken highlights. This is where I am saying that even changing the setting from 0 to 1 makes a huge difference. Usually to something not desirable, Opening the photo in Raw helps some, but still there is a only a minor amount I can adjust it there. This is why I would like a check added to the Shadows/Highlights function.

Would also like to see more than one "Last Used" filter at the top of that menu, and a list of say the last 3-4 fixed size crop values. Finally, the "Auto" functions should avoid blowing highlights!

John Tangney
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Michel BRETECHER, Champion

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John,
I'd like other users to answer your question as well as Adobe staff.
It might help if I mention the original post in the user to user Elements forum:
https://forums.adobe.com/thread/2302994

The point is that changing the way a feature works must be considered by Adobe, that is why the moderator and other posters suggested that you post here. On the other hand, you have been given advice about what you can do in Elements to avoid your issue (there are many ways to adjust tones without the shadow/highlight command).
Most importantly, I am convinced I have given the reason of the behavior you are complaining about.
Just look at the histogram for your selected picture.



You have got no pixels in the shadows or highlight range.
In this case, the 'auto' features like shadow/highlight or levels do work like manual adjustments. The 'middle' range where you have some information is stretched to fill the 0 to 100 range. In the levels dialog, you move the black and the white slider to the start of the existing 'mountain', leaving the empty parts on both side. Just check that it gives the same visual result as the auto levels command.

A change in the implementation of the shadows/highlights command would totally depend on the properties of your files and your own taste. Issuing a warning would require some testing before the process.

You should see that the problem here is the same than for other 'auto' commands, which only mimic the edits you are usually doing manually.

As for the 'last used' filter, there is a bug in version 15 which has been addressed in the user to user forum,
https://forums.adobe.com/thread/2238079
https://forums.adobe.com/thread/2236523

See the link to 99jon solution:
http://99jon.blogspot.fr/2017/01/photoshop-elements-15-open-recently.html

I have also found a similar request as yours for Photoshop in the list of similar questions on the right side of the present forum:
https://feedback.photoshop.com/photoshop_family/topics/shadows-highlights-unwanted-results
Without any image to understand the problem, the discussion did not lead anywhere... You did well to provide a test image!
(Edited)
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Steve Lehman

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Mr. Tangney, 
Are you using the selection brush or rectangular marguee tool to select the shadow to lighten or darken the shadow?  Lightening or darkening the entire photo area will not get the same effect. Also, selecting a shadow with a manual tool will make a ridge but the ridge can be blended.  Also, not to defend Light Room, but when using manual tools, Light Room takes half-steps or quarter steps compared to the giant whole steps in Elements.   It's quite a comparison.  Light Room has a huge selection of blending, shadow effects and all of it is in smaller adjustments as it's really built for pros.    Sounds to me like you need professional tools.   You might want to try it.  Elements once came bundled with Light Room so you might find it affordable somewhere.  Adobe offered it to me in an Elements bundle.   The full Photoshop has larger steps in its adjustments than Elements, so Light Room really comes in handy.   
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John Tangney

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It depends on the image. At times I do select just a certain shadow to edit, but then, as you say, have to deal with the ridge. Most of the time I just apply the Lighten Shadows to the whole image, as I was doing in this case. In general this works very well for me, but it is really wild on images like the one I submitted.
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Steve Lehman

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Okay, the way I do it is this:  When I don't want to use the shadow adjustment or brighten, levels or curves, I use the color adjustments for light and dark.  It has a contrast which has even bigger steps but the color with two levers, cast just the right temperature of color for light and dark.  If I'm not satisfied with that, and most of the time I am, I can use Filer> adjustment> photo filter which I usually use for sepia but for shadows it comes in handy and it has a blue color in temperature adjustments on a live canvas that can be turned to gray shadows or brighter.  There are lots of innovative ways to create just the right shade.  Any artist experiments and even the famous artists painted color over color to get the right cast.  And, at my company instead of calling ourselves technicians, we are called photo artists, and I am the tech who trained the photo lab techs to be artists.  I like Elements for its artistic advantages.  Experiment more.  The regular Photoshop is more geared to its plugins, but Light Room can give way to lighting like no other since it focuses solely on lighting.  Then again, it sounds to me like you have lots of Elements to discover.   Tools in combination can make things never thought possible.   
(Edited)