Jun 12, 2009

Photoshop: snappy light

Filed under: Photography,retouching,touch ups — Tags: , , — Kay @ 8:07 am


I’m calling this Snappy Light, because well, that’s what it does to your photo. It lights & lifts the photo without making it look over-edited. Now there are far more complex t Creador De Exito echniques to achieve this effect, but I’ll start with these basic techniques first. They’re simple but can make a huge difference to your photo.


The Editing:

I think my photos might appeal to people because I try to keep them real. As popular as the actions are that seriously ‘mess’ with your photo, it’s a thin line between over-editing and enhancing a photo, many people tend to cross that line. In the end, the photos you’ll want to print and frame are the real ones. All the editing looks fun online, but it doesn’t always come out real pretty in an actual print. I have to be able to print my photos and have companies print them. So I’ll use some light lifts, a little extra depth, bring out the details and put the emphasis on that part of the photo that naturally catches your eye, but for me that’s about it.


Snappy Light:


This is my SOOC shot. I like it, but the exposure needs a teeny tiny tweak and it just needs a little snap. Not much, though. This photo was taken in Scheveningen. Behold our cold, dirty and yucky North Sea.


Press Ctrl + J to create a new layer via copy (or via the top menu: Layer – New – Layer Via Copy), double click the layer and rename it to something like Light. Or spiritual being of the sun, if you’re in an adventurous mood.


Now we have to bring in the light. We do that by setting the layer mode to Screen. The screen mode does nothing other than make anything that is pure black in your photo disappear. It’s that simple.


And it shows!


So we have to reduce the opacity. Of course it depends on just how dark or how light your photo was to begin with. I usually stay somewhere in the 20’s range. This time 25% was precisely enough.


I’ve always liked the light tweak this gives. It just looks and feels natural to me. It also works wonders if you want to create one of those popular high key B&W photos.


Now press Ctrl + Alt + J to create a new layer with dialogue. That just means your light layer is being duplicated and you’ll get a handy pop-up box in which you can adjust the settings in the blink of an eye.

The name will start out as Light copy, just rename it to Snap. Or something along those lines. The layer mode is still set to screen, so we’ll have to adjust that.


Click on the triangle next to Mode and change the setting from Screen to Soft Light. What the Soft Light mode does is increase the contrast of the layer, but in a very gentle way. You could also use the Overlay mode for this, the contrast would be a bit more harsh then.


The new Snap layer will pop up right above your Light layer. Adjust the opacity to your liking and you’re done. I left mine at 25%.


This techniques opens up the shadows in a natural way and gives a bit of contrast—zing, if you will—to your photo without taking it too far. At that 25% I gave it, it’s a really subtle difference, but this can work wonders if your photo needs that extra push. 



Cheat Sheet:


If you want me to turn this into an action and add it to the posting, just let me know! You can also do it yourself, of course. You can find a tutorial on how to make actions right here!

Creador De Exito

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    1. 1

      I for one am really happy with your tutorials. It’s all so usable, especially for beginners. I really understand it now, that’s amazing.

      Cara on Jun 12, 2009 @ 9:09 am Reply
    2. 2

      Thank you so much for making tutorials that are also helpful to Elements users!

      Joy on Jun 12, 2009 @ 11:42 am Reply
    3. 3

      Is dit het strand van Rockanje?

      Love2bake.nl on Jun 12, 2009 @ 12:50 pm Reply
    4. 4

      Thanks! You so Rock!!!!

      ally on Jun 12, 2009 @ 1:19 pm Reply
    5. 5

      Zo leer ik elke dag wat. Bedankt Kay voor je tutorials.

      Arrisje on Jun 12, 2009 @ 1:35 pm Reply
    6. 6

      Very, very good tutorial! This will be much help with my food photography as well, I think.

      NanaLana on Jun 12, 2009 @ 2:38 pm Reply
    7. 7

      Just tried this and it works beautifully! Love your tutorials, keep ’em coming, Kay!

      Yasmin on Jun 12, 2009 @ 3:02 pm Reply
    8. 8

      I always learn from your tutorials…

      Thank you!

      Ayoub on Jun 12, 2009 @ 3:31 pm Reply
    9. 9


      Nee, deze is gemaakt in Scheveningen.

      Kay on Jun 12, 2009 @ 4:24 pm Reply
    10. 10

      Just thought I’d drop a line………your RSS Feed hasn’t been working for days.
      Enjoy your blog, drop in almost daily.

      Pamela on Jun 12, 2009 @ 7:18 pm Reply
    11. 11


      That’s weird! I see lots of people coming in via RSS feed. I swear, that RSS feed is gonna drive me crazy some day, having constant probs with it.

      Kay on Jun 12, 2009 @ 7:24 pm Reply
    12. 12

      RSS is fine on my end not a problem at all. I use google reader..haven’t had a problem.

      Timm on Jun 12, 2009 @ 8:38 pm Reply
    13. 13


      Can I ask if you see the full entry or a snippet? That seems to vary, too.

      Kay on Jun 12, 2009 @ 8:39 pm Reply
    14. 14

      I get your feed via RSS into Outlook – it’s jus the snippet – and it works fine. Love these little photo editing tutorials!

      Michele Morris on Jun 13, 2009 @ 3:09 am Reply
    15. 15

      Thanks so much for your wonderful tutorials. I am fairly new to the whole food blogging thing (that’s how I ended up on your fabulous side) and your tutorials helps a lot.

      Do you have a tip on how to save photos for the web as well? When I save the files in photoshop for the web, they seem to loose so much brightness and colour… Really odd.


      Sarah on Jun 13, 2009 @ 7:00 am Reply
    16. 16


      That has to do with the color profile/settings in Photoshop. Because of those the photos will look different online than they did when you were working on them in Photoshop.

      You can adjust your colorprofile for web images. Maybe I should do a tut on that one soon.

      Kay on Jun 13, 2009 @ 7:51 am Reply
    17. 17

      Hi Kay,

      that would be wonderful… Looking forward to it. I think that would be helpful for a lot of people, as I am sure quite a few are struggling with it.


      Sarah on Jun 13, 2009 @ 8:02 am Reply
    18. 18


      Just checked the web and found a few very well written sites already. This is one of them, that will give you an idea of what the problem is with the standard profile.


      Kay on Jun 13, 2009 @ 8:04 am Reply
    19. 19

      Great, thanks so much for that. Will have a read…

      Sarah on Jun 13, 2009 @ 8:06 am Reply
    20. 20

      THank you so much for this tip!

      Susan on Jun 16, 2009 @ 10:58 am Reply
    21. 21

      This is very helpful. It’s a subtle effect but makes a big difference. Thanks for sharing!

      Barbara on Jun 30, 2009 @ 12:02 am Reply
    22. 22

      I am new to your site! I would love the action of this if you don’t mind adding it or sending it to me!
      Thank you! I am so glad to have found you – a woman who cooks and does photography, just like me!

      Cat on Jul 2, 2009 @ 1:21 am Reply
    23. 23

      great tut! thanx!

      amydeanne on Jul 23, 2009 @ 4:47 am Reply

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