Photoshop has put professional level digital photography editing within the reach of anyone willing to learn how to use its powerful tools, but simple edits are sometimes overlooked. These three quick Photoshop tricks and tutorials will help you improve your photos and make them ready for classic canvas prints.
Levels control the brightness, contrast, and to a great extent color of a photo. This makes the levels tool helpful for removing color casts that are caused by poor exposure or an overwhelming color in a scene that bleeds onto subjects where it does not belong. This issue occurs most frequently from fluorescent lighting, which tends to create a green cast, or in scenes by a beach or pool, which can cause a blue cast.
To fix a color cast, open the photo and go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Levels. The Levels dialogue box will open. In each color channel, move the sliders so that they match where the peaks in the histogram indicate they should be. If you don’t like the results, you can adjust the sliders to slightly ahead or behind of the histogram. You can also use this tool to introduce color casts to your digital photography for more artistic photos that match your home dcor.
Fixing under or over exposed portraits can be more difficult than fixing similarly poorly exposed still lives and landscapes, but the curves tool can help. The curves tool is like the levels tool in that it adjusts the tones of an image, but curves actually gives the user more control over editing.
With most DSLRs under exposure is more common than over exposure. An under exposed portrait will have dark, predominantly gray shadows on the subjects, or areas of nearly complete shadow in the worst cases. To fix this, open the photo in Photoshop. Select the eyedropper tool then go to Image > Adjustments > Curves. Once the Curves dialogue is open, click on the area of darkest shadow on the subject’s face.
You will see an indicator appear on the Curves line with an input and output level for that area. Click on the area on the curve to create an anchor. Next, click and drag that area of the line towards the top of the Curves bar. This will lighten the shadow area and bring more detail into the subject’s face. For an over exposure, you would follow the same process, only you would click and drag the anchor towards the bottom of the Curves bar.
Note that any change to the curves can dramatically change the rest of the image, so you may need to also adjust other areas once the subjects’ faces are better exposed. For the most poorly exposed photos, the old standby of converting to black and white after making adjustments can help further cover up digital photography mistakes.
Bokeh is the creative use of blur to bring attention to an area of focus within an image, but it can also be the main subject of a photo on its own, especially with light sources as subjects. To create your own artistic bokeh wall art, you can use the Blur tools.
Using Photoshop, open an image with many light sources such as a cityscape, or pictures of candles and lanterns. Go to Filter > Blur > Field blur. Under Blur Effects, choose Bokeh. The Light Bokeh slider beneath will allow you to adjust the amount of bokeh in the picture. The Light Range slider will allow you to choose the brightness of the light sources impacted by the bokeh shift. The lower the intensity you choose, the more detail will remain in the image. You can also use this new image as an additional layer to the original, and merge the layers at different opacities to come up with some truly creative wall art ideas!