After taking a long hiatus from my digital editing efforts, I am trying to get back into the game. I started with Elements 2.0 and purchased Hidden Power and Mikkel Aland's book. Later I upgraded to Elements 3.0 but did not get the Hidden Power Tools for 3.0. I decided last week to get the book and loaded the tools last night.
Currently I am focusing on the section "Masking with Image Tone." I think this technique will be helpful for a troublesome family portrait taken on my wife's kodak digital last September. Content wise it is one of the best photos of my immediate family but the lighting is awful. The contrast is flat, the faces are overexposed, and the color in the faces is washed out. While levels improves the overall contrast and dynamic range, the faces are still overexposed and colors still washed out.
Masking with image tone seems to be an appropriate tool allowing me to focus my tonal and color correction efforts mostly on the skin tones. I tried using the blend mask following the step by step instructions on pp 104 to 105 but using the curves layer to mask out the dark areas so I can target changes on the light areas. However, when I get to step 12, double clicking the Clear Grayscale tool, I end up with the checkerboard in the light areas and everything else black. I don't think this is right.
My questions are: Is this the appropriate tool to use for the correction I am trying to make? Am I doing something wrong with the curves layer? What should I be doing with the curves layer to mask out everything from 25 percent black and higher?
Thanks is advance for the help.