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When you'd like to add a netherial glow or just a softening sort of effect to an image, there's a very simple technique you can use to achieve the result. In this photo, for example, I have a scene that I stumbled upon at the base of a tree, someone had added a fairy princess and some other objects to the tree and I thought it was an interesting scene so I photographed it and I thought it might be more interesting if we add a little bit of a dreamy glow to the image. To create the effect I'll start off by creating a background copy layer, so I'll drag the thumbnail from my background image layer.
Down to the Create New Layer button at the bottom of the layers panel. I'll then go to the Filter menu, and choose Blur, followed by Gaussian blur, and I'll just apply a very basic blur effect to the image. I'll use a relatively small radius. I don't need a very strong effect. I just need enough of a blur, that I can create a little bit of a halo type of effect in the image. Notice that as we blur the image, we start to expand all of the objects. We're essentially spreading out all the tones and colors around the objects that have those tones and colors.
So you can see that we've got that blooming effect. In fact, the crown, for example, on this princess is moving outward as it softens up. This looks to be reasonably good setting and so, I'll go ahead and click OK. Of course, at the moment, I've simply blurred the image, so it just appears as an outer focus image, not an image that has an ethereal glow per se. And so I need to reveal the original sharp details in the image. And those details can be found on my background image layer. If I want to reveal them completely of course, I could turn off the visibility for my Background Copy layer, but in this case I want to partially reveal this blur effect.
In essence I want to be able to see through this blur effect to the underlying image. And so with the background copy layer active on the Layers panel, I'll go to the top right of the Layers panel and click on the Opacity Control, and then reduce the value for opacity. At a 0% opacity, we're not seeing the blurred layer at all, so we're only seeing the sharp version of the image. And if I increase the opacity to 100%, of course, I'm only seeing the blurred version. So I want somewhere in between, just enough to give me a nice sort of hazy and ethereal glow in the image, in this case right around 50 or 60% seems to be a good value.
I can toggle the visibility of the background copy layer off and then on to get a better sense of the effect but, as you can see with just a couple of quick and easy steps we're able to produce a very nice ethereal glow effect in our image.
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