Let There Be Light! Before and After

I recently upgraded to CS6, and I’m still discovering all the nifty new additions and changes  they’ve made since CS5.

One of my favorite filters was render light, but in the previous versions, it was a pain to use. They offered this tiny little picture preview and getting the light exactly where you wanted it was a pain in the ass.

They finally changed it! Now when you click on that choice, you get a full-sized preview and you can easily see where to place your lights. It’s so much nicer, I may play there forever! 

Photography is light, and lighting is important. I took this photo as the sun was setting. It was too dark to use natural light so I resorted to a flash. This is straight out of the camera.

The flash lit up the foreground and some of that palm leaf in the upper right but the rest is mostly dark. Not a bad shot. It offers some interest. But after working some Photoshop magic on it, I got this.

Much better light balance! Here’s how I did it:

1. On a duplicate of the original, adjusted curves and levels. This was a bit tricky, considering how dark the photo was to start with. I ended up eyeballing it.

2. Used Topaz Adjust’s Spicify filter, which mimics HDR. I wanted to bring out detail in the rocks and plants. It’s a strong filter though, so I dialed opacity down to 70% (this lets more of the original photo come through).

3. Clicked on render light filter. Placed three lights: one in the foreground, one on the rock at left rear, and one on the palm leaf upper right. I played with the settings until I got something pleasant. I changed the foreground light color to a soft green/white. The other two stayed default white. I really love how the light played on that rock at back left.

Lighting effects can be soft, too. This photo was taken in the dark with a dialed-down flash.

Nice, but boring. I think we need to highlight that flower!

Much better! Now that bloom draws the eye straight to it. Two lights used in this one: main one on the large bloom, and a second smaller, less intense one on the tiny bloom below it on the right. Sharpen filter was lightly applied to the large bloom.

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About Fenraven

Fenraven happily lives in south Florida, where it is really hot most of the year. Find him on Twitter, Google +, and Facebook by searching on 'fenraven'.
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2 Responses to Let There Be Light! Before and After

  1. Lindsaysf says:

    Amazing magic! BTW what is CS? You’re talking to someone here who knows nothing!

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