I am working on this photo in Aperture 3 (this is a partial area of the shot).

It's a night shot with a 30s shutter speed, so there are areas, namely above the roof that are blown out. This compared to the darkness of the roof make the line between the two look almost drawn in. My eye keeps going to it and it really bothers me.

Is there a way I can decrease the contrast between the two in just that area of the shot without ruining the contrast in the rest of the photo?

Should I smooth it out somehow?

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As others have mentioned, Aperture 3 supports brushing in and out of adjustments on selected areas of the photo. As with a most image repair, you have to try a few things to see which technique works best for the photo in hand, but some adjustments to try:

  • The Highlights/Shadows adjustment may bring back some detail, or can be used to reduce brightness of the highlights.
  • If you shot RAW, the Recovery slider under Exposure may also be able to bring back some detail.
  • Again, if you shot RAW, try reducing the Boost slider in the RAW settings (usually right at the top of the adjustments panel).
  • The Burn tool, used carefully, may help you to lessen the contrast of the blown out areas.

When brushing in any adjustments there are a couple of finer settings which may help:

  • Detect Edges should enable you to brush up to an edge of high contrast and not have the brush 'paint over the line'.
  • If you click the little arrow top right of the brush HUD panel, there's an option to select the tone range the brush should apply to. In this case, you'd want to select Highlights. This will also stop you accidentally applying the adjustment to the wrong areas.
  • The brush HUD panel has options to brush in and out, but there's also a feather option. Once you're done with brushing in, use the feather to blend the edges of the adjustment to make it less noticeable.

As Aperture is non-destructive, you have nothing to lose in just trying stuff out. You can always undo or revert.

  • Upvote for a pretty complete answer. – ewalshe Oct 19 '10 at 8:42

Aperture 3 supports brushing in an adjustment now, so maybe you could try "brushing in" some blur/softening with a fine brush?

The line just looks oversharpened to me.


Its been a while since I have used Aperture, so I am not sure if Aperture 3 is the same. In Aperture 2, there were options just like in Lightroom to recover shadows and hightlights. If you wish to balance the contrast of your foreground out a bit, I would bring up the shadows slider a bit, which should brighten and recover detail in just the darkest shades of your image. Usually, tools like Aperture and Lightroom divide an image into four ranges of tone: shadows, fill, main color, and highlight. Adjusting shadows and highlight usually has little effect on the rest of the image.


You can combine the two advices here: Use the highlight/shadows options and brush them in only where you need them. That will allow you apply the necessary adjustment only where you need them.

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