07 Subtract it from the mask
There are just two things to do now. First, set the background colour to black – you can do this using the foreground/background colour swatches at the bottom of the tools panel on the left side of the screen. Second, make sure the selection is still active and that you’ve selected the layer mask for the adjustment layer – and then hit the Delete key.
Elements will then replace the selected area of the mask with the background colour (black). Black areas of a layer mask shield those areas of the image from the effect, so the darkening effect is removed from the statue.
08 What just happened
If you alt-click a layer mask you can see a full-size version in the main window, and that’s what I’ve done here to show exactly how this process has worked. By saving my initial selection I’ve been able to create a gradient mask for my adjustment layer, then add the selection for the statue to mask it out. Being able to save and combine selections and masks in this way can be extremely useful – there’s no other way I could have combined this soft gradation and hard-edged selection.
09 The finished picture
Here’s the result. I chose this picture because I thought the statue would stand out much more clearly against a darker background, but I didn’t want to create just a simple cutout – I wanted that soft gradation in the background so that it looked like a genuine lighting effect rather than just a clumsy cutout.