How to Manipulate Light to Enhance the Subject


Perfecting Environmental Portraits in Photoshop


Lesson Info

How to Manipulate Light to Enhance the Subject

Now are finishing steps here we're going to do a little bit of work we're going to play with light we're going to play with light and we're gonna use that light to help draw attention to our subject even more all right let's make a new layer I'm gonna group this with itself okay? And we're gonna call this color and like this is a good step to take at the end of your image because it's going to wind up affecting the whole leverage so color and light let's make it levels adjustment layer I'm gonna click right here in the middle and dragged this to the right which makes things a little bit darker. Okay now what I'd like to do is make it invisible around the area where my subject is so we're going to choose an elliptical marquis we're going to make a selection right around there and then on my leather mask I'm going to fill this with black there we go now we're going to use our galaxy and blur to give this a large blur because you can see right here it's it's a very clear line that you're ...

actually doing this right as I bring my lower a little bit larger you don't see it anymore it doesn't look like this handle any photo shop, but if I turn this on or off check that out you're automatically looking towards the lighter area of the photo so we talked earlier about light versus dark detail versus void of detail color versus de saturation. So all of these things can really play into your image is really make a difference as far as what you're actually looking at, ok, the next thing I'm going to do is we're gonna add a little bit of sharpening to this image, and we're going to do this in key places. There are a lot of ways to sharpen one of my favorite ways to sharpen is using the high pass filter so what we're going to do, we're going to make another one of those stamp visible layers remember how we made earlier that covers up everything the's stamp visible layers are really important when it comes for things like the liquefy tool you also needed for using this method for sharpening. Okay, not hard to do shift option command e that's going to make us a stamp visible later, okay, next, we're going to change our layer blend mode from normal. We're going to change this down to overlay, so looks a little bit weird right now, ok, not a big deal. After we've changed into an overlay, we're going to go to filter down to other, we're going to go to high pass in high past, basically takes. Your detailed it takes your light detail makes a little bit lighter, takes your dark, dark detail, makes it a little bit darker and you can choose your radius the difference between light and dark. So as I increase my radius, it basically results in sharpening. So as I continue to increase it it's gonna look pretty bad, but right here, you can see the image looks relatively soft, bring it up to about there, and we're getting a pretty sharp image, so my suggestion would be taken about as far as you think you can go without. It is starting to look bad. This looks bad in case you need example, this is what you don't want to do right over here. Looks pretty good, but you're gonna also notice you can start to see a lot more detail in her skin. You noticed her skin doesn't look as good let's look at the book, just turn this layer off and on her skin doesn't look is good when I've got a lot of sharpening going on because it takes every pore takes every little flaw and it exaggerates it. So we only want this to exaggerate the good areas of the foot up we're gonna use later mask for that so let's click on our layer mask. We're going to hit come in control or command I which inverts the layer mass attorney it black and now I'm gonna pay in white on my land mass and I'll just do it over top of the eyes there we go, we'll do it over top of lip and even areas like jewelry, some fine detail and things like that I'm totally happy with this it those things drawing your eyes in all right, we'll do it over top of the hair because hair can be really nice there we go as a focal point you generally want to keep if you are gonna be sharpening, stay away from the edges of the photo remember you don't want your viewer to be looking outside your photo you don't want their eyes to be going towards the edges he want their eyes contained inside the photo it's going to really help them stay in there and analyze what's going on a little bit better all right? And we'll bring a little bit on her animal print as well and that's it. I'm not going to mess with the dress on the police you can see this is already out of focus just a little bit we're just doing a rise and check this out here is the before and the after with just that sharpening there's the before it's pretty soft and there's the after you're already you're looking at your subject, you're looking right into our eyes because now they're the sharpest thing in the image there is it before and the after really, really cool. All right, let's do a little bit of color work on the image as a whole, and then we're gonna be done. Then I'll show you the whole before and the after, so we're going to go to our levels again and I'm a big fan of the blue and yellow going the blue channel. You can click your output levels and go from the left to the right with the blue and bringing this in a little bit with the yellow, it tends to warm up your highlights and cool down your shadows just a little bit and because we already have some green in this image, I'm gonna play around with putting some green into the shadows as well. That's kind of nice, it reflects what's going on, you can see that a little bit of green color in there kind of reflects what's going on in the dress and gives it a little bit of a retro look. All right, that looks great. So right now we're down two, three groups, we've stayed very organized, we're doing great, we got one more question. When you were doing them when you added the blue or you changed the blue and the green do you ever just hit auto by chance to see what auto would do and just see the difference between what you personally would dio on where water would do yeah I think that's a great example let's go ahead and grab a curve adjustment I'll show you something along those lines so if you were to the place where you're like you know what, I'm not sure what's going to make my image better I don't I don't really know what it was a good place to start off with I don't use auto so much anymore because it's not as reliable um but there are some other good options here there's a preset box up at the top and you can actually go to a couple presets like darker linear contrast medium contrast things like that were negative that's what we want but there is enough definitely some different options here and if you go through those presets sometimes you'll run across the precept that does not look good either but sometimes you know uh you'll run across the preset you're like you know what I really like the real contrast in look on this I think starting off with auto and some process is a good idea this is another place where sometimes if you don't want to do your coloring work in photo shop you can jump into light room because light room has a lot of color presets like it was great for that, so if you want to do your adjustment work like if you want to take care of getting the little details and you're moving the background destructions in photo shop and then you want to save it and then go into light room to do your color if that's where you feel more comfortable that's totally okay too, all right, that looks great. So let's, go ahead and see what we've done so far on our image. We started off let's circle all the things that we've done and we have we've taken care of in this amount of time, we've taken care of everything that we've got on our screen, which is a lot, and having those things laid out ahead of time really helped out to create a plan so we could follow through with that. All right, you guys want to see them before the after I do, this is like my absolute favorite part of editing, all right? Let's do it so here's our before and the after that's pretty amazing that's amazing! This is like so clutter I don't know where my eyes air going the color is a little bit funky, I'm staring at her armpit thiss after it's clear, I can breathe my eyes were going right into her eyes. The leading line of her dress follows it up all the way, her the green and then the red from her hair's. I'm following it up. I'm looking right in your eyes, there's, nothing out of them edges, that's, distracting me. I know exactly where I'm looking, and I think we did a great job.

Class Description

Environmental portraits make very powerful images – they give the viewer a chance to learn about the subject through every aspect of the photo. Learn how to expertly retouch the background of environmental portraits in this Photoshop class with Aaron Nace.

Aaron will help you eliminate distractions and use basic retouching so your subject shines through. You’ll learn how to manipulate light and independently color the background and subject to add contrast and interest. Aaron will also show you how to combine images so you get the perfect backdrop for your environmental portrait.

Software Used: Adobe Photoshop CC 2014.2.2