04 Darken the background
OK, now that the selection is saved I can dismiss it with the ctrl/command-D shortcut and turn my attention to darkening the background. For this I’m using a Brightness/Contrast adjustment layer. I’ve turned the Contrast up to maximum and reduced the Brightness.
05 Adding a gradient mask
At the moment I’ve got an all-over darkening effect, but I want the background to darken progressively towards the top. This is easy to do. Each time you create an adustment layer, Elements creates a layer mask alongside. This will be selected for editing by default, but you can always click it again to make sure.
Now I need to select the Gradient tool (1), choose a regular black-white gradient (2), then drag vertically on the image from where I want the gradient masking effect to start to where I want it to end (3).
You’ll now see the darkening effect blended in progressively – and if the gradient comes out the wrong way round, so that the picture’s light at the top and dark at the bottom, just hit ctrl/command-Z to undo it and try again, but this time dragging out the gradient in the opposite direction.
You can see the gradient mask I’ve created over in the Layers panel on the right.
06 Load your selection
Now we’re getting somewhere, but the darkening effect is overlaying the statue in the foreground too, so I need to mask that out as well. This is where my saved selection comes in. All I need to do is open the Select menu again, then choose my saved mask from the drop-down menu in the Load Selection window. My saved selection is now reloaded…