Editing Selected Areas- Part I
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Transform 4

The clouds near the center have more “pop”, but we’ve lost the darker areas, the grasses look dull, the almost white flowers have been “blown out” to totally white, and we have a harsh, unpleasant image overall. Obviously just increasing the contrast is not the answer.

In my darkroom days, I might have approached this by “burning in” the cloud area while leaving the rest of the picture alone. In B&W printing, I might have even combined the use of “masks” with variable-contrast paper and increased the contrast of the central cloud area. This would have required two “masks”, usually cut out of opaque paper, one to expose the clouds and shield the rest of the image, another to shield the clouds and expose everything else. It was a very tedious and slow process, and it was impossible to reproduce the same effect twice.

With Picture Window Pro, masks are extremely versatile. They can be as precise as a pixel, or can be soft and blurry. They enable you to control about any quality of an image: brightness, contrast, saturation, color-balance, sharpness, blurring, etc. Moreover, you can save the results digitally to use as many times as you want.

In this case, the first thing we need to do is select the water portion of this image precisely from the surrounding grasses. There are several ways to do this. The resulting mask image should have one “polarity” of the mask (black or white) coincident with the water surface and the other (white or black) covering all the surrounding area. I choose to use the Picture Window Pro Paint function in the Mask tool set. This is the best tool for precisely creating a mask on an image with fine details.