Miraz Light At Work Photography

Sprucing pictures in a jiffy

Here's a quick and easy trick to spruce your pictures in a jiffy if you don't have time to do anything fancy.

Lets start off with this.

This picture was taken in my backyard as the sun was setting. The light you see filtering through the trees is all natural. I did not like the thick tree bang in the center but if I had composed it differently, I wouldn't have caught the golden colors in the upper right thirds (One of the rules of composition,  is a Rule of Thirds which basically says you have to imagine the picture with two lines running vertically and two horizontally thus dividing it into 9 equal parts. The important parts of the image should best lie either at the points of intersection or along the lines. ) I however like to refer to this rule as the Golden Ratio rule. But more on this shall be covered in another post. So, I cloned out the tree and instead added one of the green pines along with a part of the bush at the bottom. Note how I did not clone the entire baby pine so it looks somewhat different. 

I wanted to  make the trees stand out some more so I added a vignette to envelope the picture. A Vignette is basically a reduction in an image's brightness and or saturation at the borders versus the center. The Vignette can be added in two ways.

First, is a destructive way of doing it using the burn tool. I say destructive because when you apply the burn tool to an image, the pixels that the tool effects are lost forever (unless you do an "undo".) So all you do is take the burn tool, reduce its opacity to between 10% & 30% depending on your taste and brush it all over the edges. You could do it in smooth even strokes or create rough edges based on your taste. I however, don't like using a destructive method in case I want to recover some of the pixels. Hence,  I use the following.

The Second method is adding a gradient. I like to use the radial gradient shown below. You will find this option in the Layers palette. Note that the radial gradient is not to be confused with a gradient map.

First off, make sure that your  foreground color in the color palette is set to black. Click on the radial gradient option, set the Style to Radial, make sure the gradient type is Black to transparent, Scale to 150% and check the reverse box. If you like, you can play with the angle to some extent and check the preview box for on-the-fly changes. Once you like what you see, click Ok and your gradient is added. You can then adjust the opacity of your gradient layer to taste. I usually keep it around 40%. The advantage of doing it this way is PSE automatically includes a layer mask with this layer using which I can brush off unwanted gradient from parts of my image where I don't want it.

Here's the final result


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