August 31, 2010

Focusing Light

For natural light photographers, the right light can be difficult to obtain.  Maybe you took photos on a cloudy day or the light is focused on something else. 

So, here's a trick.  It might be a little familiar, because parts of the process are similar to fixing a blurry photo.

1.  Open your image and create a duplicate layer (right-click Background and choose Duplicate Layer).

2.  Create a Curves Layer to lighten the photo overall (Image -> Adjustments -> Curves).  My output is 160, and my input is 117.  If you have a separate Curves layer, merge the Curves layer and your duplicate layer.

3.  Choose the Circular Marquee Tool.  Set Feather to 250px.  Draw a circle around the area that you want to be brighter.  Choose Select -> Inverse and delete the outer area.

4.  Flatten your image.

The steps in this trick will work for lighting problems, but it works for many other things too.  It can be used to make colors more saturated in areas, blur edges, or soften textures.  Try it out!