Shadows, Midtones and Highlights are terms used to describe tonal ranges in an image which editing software uses to target certain adjustments. However, without practice and experience, visualising the extent of those tonal ranges is not always easy.
Highlights consist of the brightest areas, shadows consist of the darkest, and midtones lie in between the two. the blacks are on the left, the whites on the right and the mid-tones fall in between – adjustments can be made to these areas to bring out more detail or increase contrast for a stylistic effect. Any spike that touches either edge is referred to as being ‘clipped’ and in those areas all data has been lost.
The slides below will take you through a guided exercise to help you identify those tonal regions, just follow the instructions below each image.
If you hover over the image you will see < and > arrows, use the or the ‘radio’ buttons underneath the image run / back-up through the exercise.
Once you have completed the exercise, test your understanding by taking the ‘Tonal Challenge’ .