One of the steps I do almost in each photo post-processing is adding a little bit of glow to the photo. Glow softens the photo, adds contrast and saturation and overall makes the photo more pleasant to the eye.

There are multiple ways you can add glow to your photos (for instance Glamour glow preset in the Color effex pro plugin), but I personally prefer to do it just using Photoshop. It’s very simple and requires only two layers to apply. I went step by step in my description, but for those who are lazy to go through it, I also created a Photoshop action for you, which does all of this for you. You can download the action from here:

HDRshooter glow Photoshop Action

So lets take a look at this photo (I suggest clicking on the photos to see them bigger, to see the difference better):

glow-0 glow-25 glow-50

The first one has no glow added, the second one has the glow on 25% and the third one on 50%. You can see the difference in contrast, softness and color here. You can also see that glow will darken the very dark areas and brighten the very bright areas, so this is something one has to take into account here.

How to add glow?

So how do you add this glow. Lets start with a photo in Photoshop:

Our fist step is to duplicate this photo (if you have a file with multiple layers, just merge them into one new layer). To duplicate, right click on the layer and select duplicate layer

Next select the new layer and blur it. Gaussian blur works very well here. I usually go for a 30px blur, but it greatly depends on the size of your image. For my 20Mpix images, 30px works well. If your images are smaller, you should use less blur, for bigger images you can use more.

Now we have to change the blending mode of this layer. While the layer is still selected change it to soft light

You can see the photo now completely changed, but it a little bit to dark, so we need to brighten the effect. I use for that a new adjustment layer. You can use anyone, but I prefer Curves, as I can add more contrast if needed. So choose new adjustment layer and curves

And then change the blending mode of this new layer to screen. This will brighten everything under it by one stop.

The result is now better, but the curves layer effects everything under it, and we need it to just effect the glow layer. To do this, right click onto it and choose Create clipping mask.

As a last step we need to change the opacity of the glow layer. The higher, the stronger the effect is

You can also add a layer mask to the glow layer, and only paint it onto the areas where you want it (or remove it from the areas where you don’t need it).

And that’s all. The photo now has a nicer contrast, nice glow and much richer colors. It can happen that the photo will be a little to dark after this, but that’s can be easily corrected.

Feel free to ask any questions and don’t forget to download the provided action :)

Today I have for you another processing post. They seem to be quite popular, so I will continue with them. I really hope they are helpfull to some of you or at least intereting :)

So for today I chosen one of my favorite photos, one from the Bojnice castle. The light difference here was very high, with the castle brightly lit and the stone wall in front of the camera haveing no light at all.
Path around the Bojnice Castle
So to get to the image I took 10 brackets overall. First I a 5 exposure shot of the castle. I saw that the wall was still too dark on the +2EV exposure, so I changed the ISO from 100 to 1600 and did a second series just for the wall (I could have done it also without the ISO change, but it would take very long exposures to get any light there)

After that I exported all the images from Lightroom into photoshop, while only adding a little vibrance and some noise reduction.

Then I continuead as follows (numbered from bottom up)

1. 0EV exposure, from teh darker series
2. -1EV exposure to darken the sky and the castle
3. -2EV exposure to darkent the castle
4 to 7. -1EV to +2EV exposure from teh bright series to brighten the foreground and the wall
8. -1EV exposure from the dark series to correct few areas with a bad contrast
9. Color effex pro Tonal contrast to add more detail to few areas
10. Darkened the lights with a luminance mask
11. Color effex pro Pro contrast to add more local contrast to the photo
12+13. I retouched a little stand that was next to the castle, it really bothered me there :)
14. Added contrast to the basic midtones
15+16. Added more glow
16. Darkened the bright lights
17. Removed the greeen color cast from the bright lights
18. Desatureated the most saturated colors (mask created with TK Actions)
19. Darkened the very bright lights

Feel free to ask any questions about this

Continue to the full post to see the original 0EV exposures from both series of brackets.

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