The Skin Tones option in Color Range lets us adapt the exposure of the person and background separately
Before/After – This before and after comparison shows that the skin tones and hair on the after image (right) are brighter and more eye-catching. Although the background on the before has more colour, this is somewhat overbearing.
On a portrait, skin can be isolated by going to Color Range inside the Select menu. New to Photoshop CS6 is Skin Tones from inside the Select list. Set Fuzziness to around 30, or until all the skin has been covered white in the preview.
Hit OK to view the selection on the skin of the person/people. From there, add a new Brightness/Contrast adjustment layer and name it ‘skin tones’. The exposure of the skin can be adjusted separately from the surroundings. We’ve boosted the Brightness slightly to lighten up the skin highlights.
Duplicate this adjustment layer (Cmd/Ctrl+J) and then invert its mask by pressing Cmd/Ctrl+I. This adjustment is for everything else that’s not skin. This means the background can be darkened with lower contrast in case it’s proving to be too bright next to the skin.