Skip to main content

photo & video

Advanced Adjustment Tips & Tricks in Adobe Photoshop

Lesson 7 of 13

Using Equalize to Extract Detail

Ben Willmore

Advanced Adjustment Tips & Tricks in Adobe Photoshop

Ben Willmore

buy this class


Sale Ends Soon!

starting under


Unlock this classplus 2000+ more >

Lesson Info

7. Using Equalize to Extract Detail
Use an uncommon approach to extracting detail from overcast skies. The same trick can be used to generate a crazy amount of shadow detail from overly dark images.

Lesson Info

Using Equalize to Extract Detail

now let's take a look an adjustment that has been in Photoshop for many decades in almost no one uses it but I find it to be useful in one particular situation and that is when I have a huge area that's overly bright or overly dark and I want to pull out detail in it. Here's an example here we have Iceland, there's a bunch of lava covering some icebergs here and it makes it so it's really dark. I want to pull out the detail. Well one adjustment I could do and I usually only do this after duplicating a layer. I usually duplicate the layer with my keyboard type, command, J, control J and windows. Think of it as jumping it to a new layer. If you watch my layers panel, when I type it, you'll see that duplicate layer, then I'm gonna choose image adjustments, equalize and look at all that detail that's in there, ignore the area up here, that wasn't the area, that was mega dark, it's the area down here and now what I could do is lower the opacity on that to lessen it and remember the original...

images underneath. Therefore, as I lower it, letting more of the original show up, then I can add a layer mask and a little tip when you're at a layer mask is if you want a black mask, just hold on the option key. If you hold option. When you click on, you get a black mask so then I can come in here and if I paint with white. My opacity is at 30 from a previous technique I did, which is fine. I can come in here now and decide. Where do I want to see that additional detail. And if I paint over an area more than once, it will get more than one application of it because we're not at 100% opacity but it's not that common to have volcanic things. You need to get pulled out detail. It's much more common to end up having really dull overcast skies. What you're gonna find is if you come over here and open the History Graham, the time when this technique will be useful is any time there is a really wide, overly tall part of the history graham. In this case, it indicates there's a lot of really bright information equalize is going to try to equalize how much of the history Graham that takes up or how tall it is compared to everything else. And once I run equalised, let's see what happens. Now, look at that hissed a gram. See, it's much more evenly highlighted all the way across. Well, that's going to really affect when you have overcast skies. So look at what it did to that again. Usually I would end up working out a duplicate layers so I can mask it to control where it appears. There's a little bit more to it. If I take another image and I apply equalised. Let's say I don't like the way it treated the image. We'll still That looks pretty darn good. Let me show you that you do have a little more control over it. I'll choose undo. If you make a selection first to say only think about this area right here and you apply equalize, it's going to ask you a question and that is, do you want to only work on that area or do you want to work on the entire image that only have it analyzed that area? In this case, it'll probably be too extreme. But on occasion that can be useful when you really want to target one area to say bring out all the contrast that could possibly be there. But in this case it's too much. But equalisers something I find most people ignore, they think of as an old thing that nobody's ever described how to use but use it when you find one part of your history Graham dominant, usually it's gonna be a really bright or dark area that doesn't have to be and you want to pull out the detail that's in that area, then go for it. I should mention though that it will be terrible when working on Jpeg files, files that are not bit and if your highlights are blown out so they have no detail in those cases, it's gonna look bad. So if you have a raw file though and you actually do have highlight detail, which means no spike on the right side of the history Graham, then this can be effective to use equalize.

Class Description


  • Precisely match the color of two objects
  • Change black objects to any color.
  • Add drama to dull overcast skies.
  • Apply multiple adjustments in a single adjustment layer.
  • Utilize uncommon settings such as Knockout.


Are you looking to up your adjustment skills so you can be more effective and efficient by utilizing a wider range of advanced features? Do you run into features in Photoshop that you do not utilize such as Knockout Deep, Knockout Shallow, Pass Through mode and wonder how you could utilize them? Then this class is for you.

Ben has been pushing Photoshop to its limits for over 30 years. Learn his best tips and tricks for getting the most out of Photoshop’s adjustments.

You’ll be able to tackle a much wider range of challenges once you expand the range of features you use on a daily basis. You’ll also reduce guesswork while increasing the precision of your adjustments.


  • People who are generally experienced using Photoshop, but want to push their skills to a more advanced level.
  • Those who want to tackle difficult tasks efficiently.
  • People who want to understand the more powerful and less commonly used features in Photoshop.


Adobe Photoshop 2021 (V22.5.0)


As a photographer, Ben Willmore has shot in all 50 states and explored over 80 countries. He has been pushing Photoshop and Lightroom Classic to their limits since the beginning. Ben is part of a select group of non-employees that Adobe trusts with pre-release beta versions of their software so he can have a voice in the future direction of their software. He has written more than a dozen books on digital imaging that have been translated into 9 languages, has written over 100 articles for major magazines, and was inducted into the Photoshop Hall of Fame. He has been a featured speaker at events on all seven continents where he has taught well over 100,000 people.

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

Related Classes


Alicia Orth

I've been using Photoshop for years and still learned lots of great tips from this class. Would love to see more classes like this.

Eric Johnson

Terrific - lots of great information. Way to go Ben!

Marco Basile

Really enjoyed how succinct and sharp the presentation was. Great information I hadn't seen elsewhere. Thank you Ben.