Creative effects with Photos

by Colin Smith

The Finished Cover

We welcome Colin Smith, one of the true Photoshop icons of our times, to the pages of DTG -- and we thank him for sending in this tutorial. Colin writes . . .

Colin SmithIn this tutorial, we are going to apply one of my favoriate effects to a photograph. This will soften it and add some nice color and contrast. It only takes a second. In a form of subtlty, I use this effect on almost all my photos.

the original photograph To start with, we will use a photograph I shot of model, Crystal. I shot this photography with a Canon 5D mk2 and a 50mm prime lens. I used a two light setup, one in front to the viewers right and one behind in the opposite. (You don't really see the back light in this shot). I also used a silver reflector to fill in the light on the left. View the original shot enlarged

1 Because of the type of effect we are going for, let's add some punch and contrast to the photograph. (See a before and after comparison)

increase the contrast using curves in Photoshop

Create a Curves adjustment. Usually I would use adjustments layers, but in this case Press Cmd/Ctrl+M to open curves. Make a slight S-curve by darkening the shadows and increasing the highlights a bit. Notice that I pushed the white point to the left so that the adjustment starts at the beginning of the histogram.

2 Duplicate the Layer and change to Overlay Blend Mode

3 Add a Blur to the top layer ... Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur
(Note, I went back and did some very subtle spot healing work to the image to get rid of a few spots)

Add a new layer then Gaussian Blur

Choose the amount of blur depending on the resolution. In this case I'm working on a high res image so, I used 32.8. Low res might be somewhere in 5 range or so. You will be able to tell by eyeballing it. As you move the slider, the image will take on this nice dreamy look, when you go too far that look stops. Find the "sweet spot" and apply. For some images, you could stop right here, I like the soft dreamy look we have.

reduce the opacity of the blur layer

4 I reduced the opacity to about 40% to make the effect more subtle. This is a usable photo effect right here.

Having prepared the photo, Lets move on and make a CD cover.

... continues on the next page!

27th Anniversary for DTG Magazine