Simple Photoshop Effects

Pic 1I’m amazed at Susheel’s ability to take pictures using his amazing camera, lenses and filters and his ability to edit his pictures in RAW format. He is a thorough professional but me – I’m an amateur with some decent knowledge about compositions. I use a small point and shoot Sony digital camera and I have loads of limitations in what I can do with it. What I usually do is to shoot pictures using unconventional angles, white balances and aperture settings, edit them in Photoshop and make them better looking. Let me tell you that I’m also not a pro in Photoshop. But I know some simple tricks using which I can give different effects to the photo I have taken. Pic 2I use all of them and decide on an effect which gives the picture the maximum impact.

This is a picture of my cousin Niki I shot some time back using my point and shoot camera when he was on the beach (The first pic in the series). The photo got over exposed but I liked the camera angle and also the overexposed sky which is giving a white bg to my subject. I decided to work on this picture in photoshop to give it some effect and make it look better.

I opened the file in photoshop and as the first step I adjusted the levels using Image > Adjustments > Auto Levels on the menu bar. Then I corrected the picture a little more by adjusting the levels manually using Image > Adjustments > Levels. Pic 3Moved around the sliders till I got satisfied with the subject’s look (Second Pic).

To give the subject a stylish look I duplicated the layer on which the picture was there and changed the layer type to hard light for the duplicated layer which is on top and played around with the opacity a bit. It looked better now (Third Pic).

If anyone remembers the posters of the movie Kal Ho Na Ho there was a strange black and white yet color effect which had been given to the photographs. I decided to try that effect on this pic by selecting the layer below and simply doing Image > Adjustments > Desaturate. Pic 4Ah I got another effect now (Fourth Pic).

I wanted to try out another effect too to compare all three versions so I reverted back to the version just before me desaturating the layer. I was not sure what effect to try then I remembered Susheel’s soft focus trick using filters. I wanted to get that effect on this picture so I selected the layer below and did Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Keep the radius of the Gaussian blur a moderate 2.5 pixels. I had to also change the opacity of the top layer to 100% and I got this effect (Fifth Pic).

Pic 5I have no idea if the effects I explained here were good enough for your pics or made any sense to most of you but believe me every time you try a variation of the settings I explained you get a new effect for your pic. How you make use of them is the key. Just try it out and let me know if you got a brand new effect. Please note that these tiny tricks are for amateurs like me, the professionals will have a better idea on how to do photo correcting in their own better ways.

Umesh is a User Experience Designer who is interested in photography. Check out his blog White Space.