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Bringing Back Your Dull Background

Posted By samt On July 22, 2013 @ 9:00 AM In Digital Photography,Photo Editing | 1 Comment

Have you ever taken a beautiful landscape photo only to have it ruined because there’s too much light and everything looks pale or faded. I’m going to show you how to fix that issue in just 15 minutes. Ready to start our tutorial?

AIM

In this tutorial we’re going to look at how to bring out a pale or faded background in your outdoor photos. Quite often, depending on the direction of the sun or its reflection, the background of your photo can be over-exposed and although the objects or people in the foreground are all clear and visible, the beautiful landscape or scenery in the background is unclear.

Tools

The primary tools used in this tutorial are:

  • Curve Adjustment Layer
  • Exposure Adjustment Layer

Resources

You can download a copy of the image that is used in this tutorial HERE [1] or you can choose a photo of your own. If you prefer working on a photo of your own, try to choose one where the bottom half of your image is visible, clear, and in focus whilst the upper half is bright and faded out due to too much light. This will allow you to follow this particular tutorial more accurately.

Before and After

The image below shows you the before and after photos of this tutorial.

STEP 1

The first step in this tutorial is to darken the upper part of the image using the Curves Tool.

Click on “New Adjustment Layer” (down in the bottom right-hand corner): 

Then click on “Curves”:

Now you want to bend the Curve down a little to darken the image and bring out background detail. The settings I used are shown below.

Your image should now look like this:

Next we will remove the effect that we just applied from the bottom half of the image (or the objects that were already visible). As can be seen in the image above, the bottom area is now too dark. To remove this effect, we are going to use the Brush Tool:

 

Now set the Brush Tool with the following Hardness and Brush Type: 

Although the exact value will depend on your specific image size, the size of the Brush should be similar to the size shown below in proportion to your image (see the red circle):

Set the color of the Brush to black.

Now select your Layer Mask as shown below and brush over the bottom area of the image where it is too dark – watch as the Brush removes the effect from the areas you brush over. 

By the end of this step, your Layer Mask should look like the one above (with the black covering the bottom areas where you have used the Brush Tool) and your image should look something like this:

STEP 2

In this step, we are going to brighten up the ground a little. Depending on the image you are using, you may not choose to do this if the ground or objects in the foreground are already bright.

Click on “New Adjustment Layer” (down in the bottom right-hand corner): 

Then click on “Curves”:

Now let’s bend the Curve up a little to lighten the image and bring out the color on the ground (or foreground) a little. The settings I used are shown below.

Your image should now look like this:

Now select the Brush Tool (using the same settings as we previously used), select the Layer Mask (as shown below) and paint over the mountains to remove the “Lighten” effect we just applied.

Once you have finished, your Layer Mask should look something like the one shown above.

Your image should now be almost complete and it should look like the one shown below.

STEP 3

In this final step, we are going to sharpen the image in order to add a little more detail and contrast to the background (in this picture, the mountains). To do this, we are going to adjust the Exposure settings. Let’s start by creating a new Adjustment Layer and selecting “Exposure”.

Click on “New Adjustment Layer” (down in the bottom right-hand corner): 

Then Click on “Exposure”. You should have a new Layer for your Exposure as shown below.

Now change the Exposure settings in you Properties window as shown below by moving the Gamma Correction IP (watch the image sharpen). In the example below, I set the Gamma Correction to 0.55, but you may prefer to move it a little lower or a little higher depending on the effect you want to obtain.

NOTE: Only pay attention to the effect on the upper (faded or over-exposed) part of the image as this effect will be removed from the lower part of the image later.

Now that our over-exposed or faded background is visible and clear, we want to remove the Exposure effect from the areas that originally looked OK (in this picture, the ground). To do this, we are going to paint over these areas using the Brush Tool on the Layer Mask.

Select the Brush Tool (using the same settings as we previously used). Select the Layer Mask (as shown below) and paint over the ground and houses (or the areas that don’t require the Exposure effect) to remove the Exposure effect we just applied.

Your Layer Mask should look similar to the following (if using the image shown in this article):

And there you have it: you have successfully brought out a nice crisp background!

 

- Sam


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URL to article: http://www.worldstart.com/bringing-back-your-dull-background/

URLs in this post:

[1] HERE: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B69XxbjVkhb4UUc4V3oydnA0V1E/edit?usp=sharing