Join Chris Orwig for an in-depth discussion in this video Adding light for emphasis, part of Photoshop for Photographers: Creative Effects.
As I imagine we all know, the word photography means writing with light. And you know it's light that we use in order to communicate and to convey our ideas. And here I want to take a look at how we can add light to this photograph in order to redirect the way the viewer views this image. So we can add light to emphasize something. What I want to emphasize is this subject, this professional surfer here. This image was captured with natural light, and I like the setting, you can't really tell where it is.
It has a little bit of a suggestion of travel, also you can see a surfboard in the background. Well, I'm creating this image for a client, and I know that for the client the subject is really important, so I want to bring more focus to this area. To do this let's take a look at how we can start off by creating a selection and then how we can make a Curves Adjustment in order to brighten up that area of our photograph. First let's go ahead and click and hold down on the Rectangular Marquee, then we are going to choose the Elliptical Marquee tool.
Next, I want you to click and drag your Feather Amount way up, we want a really high feather. By having a high Feather Amount, it will allow us to have softer edges of the selection that we're about to make. Next let's go ahead and click and drag a selection over the subject. Now that we have this selection, I'll click on my Adjustment layer icon for Curves. Here I now have an adjustment which allows me to brighten up or darken this area of my picture. Yet in making this adjustment perhaps I've decided you know this selection it isn't quite in the right spot, or maybe I want to change it.
Well, how can we do that? Well, here I'm going to exaggerate this brightening effect just to highlight how we can modify this selection. You notice the adjustment layer is linked to the mask. If you unlink those by clicking on the Link icon and then choose the Move tool and make sure you're targeting the mask, you can see the little brackets around it. You can then click and move this around, and you can move it around wherever you want it. You can also change the shape of this by free transforming it. Press Command+T on a Mac, or Ctrl+T on Windows, and here you can see I can make this a little bit more of an oval, a little bit less of a circle.
And I can modify its overall shape. I can also hold down Command on a Mac, or Ctrl on Windows, to really kind of skew or change the overall shape that we have there. And sometimes by changing the shape of that area it can help out our photograph. Another thing that we can do is we can soften these edges even further. I think the best way to see this is to Option on a Mac, Alt on Windows, then click on the Mask icon, so to Option- click or Alt-click on that Mask icon, it shows you the mask in a black and white view.
Well, if we increase the Feather Amount here, what you're going to see is that the edges are going to become softer, there is more gray, now the white is all the way gone. In a sense what this has done is it's softened this overall effect. If you Option-click or Alt-click the mask to go back to the regular view you can see how this works. As we increase this it's slowly softening those edges and here you can see how this effect is much more subtle. So one way we can modify the mask is by moving it around or free transforming it or changing its feather.
Another way is by obviously simply painting on the mask. So here we can grab our Brush tool, we'll paint with black, and then we'll go ahead and decrease the opacity and also increase our brush Size. And by having a really large brush what we can start to do is just paint with black in these areas to kind of darken up some of those area say behind the subject. And here I'm just trying to make a few small little subtle brushstrokes. Now so far the brightening effect is way over exaggerated. Yet I've over exaggerated this so that you can really and distinctly see how we can change the mask.
Well, after we've made a few adjustments here, I'll go back to my Curves, and then I'm going to click and drag this down, I definitely don't want that to be that bright. But I do want a little bit of brightness there. I'll go ahead and click and drag my highlights up and also a little bit of the shadows up as well. Next I'll go to the Curves/Masks option, and then here I'll click and drag up my feather just to soften out my brushstrokes. As you make adjustments like this with light, it shouldn't all of a sudden stand out to you in a glowing way. Rather, it's almost like you don't notice it until you look at the before and then the after.
All right, well now that we've redirected the viewer to that area of the image. I also want to make one small color adjustment. To do that I'll use Color Balance and here I'm just going to click and drag my Reds up a little bit and my Yellows down. I want a bit more of a warm color palette for this image. And you know it's important to make all of these adjustments together. Because without that well all of a sudden face just looks a little bit too muted or too dark. But with this and with this new color adjustment it looks pretty nice.
Last but not least, click into your layer adjustment and experiment with your opacity level. Sometimes you can just soften the effect a little bit and still have the same impact. And by working with this technique what we can do is we can change the way someone views a photograph, because their eye is always attracted to areas of brightness, and by adding more brightness to this area of the photograph it's going to draw the viewer in to that area of our picture.
- Combining HDR (high dynamic range) toning with color effects
- Improving color with Curves and Color Balance
- Creating drama with lighting effects
- Adding realistic lens flare
- Creating a luminance blur
- Blending and masking in motion
- Performing HDR toning and black and white conversions
- Combining infrared with contrast and sharpness
- Crafting vintage color
- Adding borders and edges to a photo
- Finding and installing custom brushes and plug-ins