Monday, July 23, 2012
I had a request for a tutorial on my Facebook page from Jennifer. :)
I would love to know how to get that perfect slight haze and sun glow in pics… the lighting techniques and/or preset for those soft sunny pics.
Well Jennifer, your wish is my command! :)
Step 1: Start with a nice outdoor photo.
Kids are cute, but so are sun bathing rhinos! Ok, maybe just to me. :)
Step 2: Learn the secrets of soft, hazy, golden goodness.
It’s really not as hard as you think. There are two key concepts in achieving this effect when you start with a properly exposed photo (and if your photo is not properly exposed, then fix that first before you apply these changes).
- The “soft haze” effect is a trick of the eye. It is accomplished by turning down the contrast, lightening dark tones, and desaturating slightly.
- The “golden glow” is created by warming up your highlights and mid-tones, and adding both brightness and softness to highlights.
Step 3: Soften and add haze.
This photo already looks a little less harsh and easy on the eyes. Let’s take a look at the changes that were made using just the Basic Panel in Lightroom 4 (though the changes I am making should also work in previous versions):
Note: I did not change the exposure at all. The idea here is that if you want to save all this as a preset at the end of the tutorial, you can do it and still adjust your exposure separate from the soft golden haze effects.
What I did change:
- Turn Contrast down to -75
- Turn Saturation down to -25
- Turn Blacks up to +50 (this is actually removing/lightening blacks to further reduce contrast)
Step 4: Add some gold and a touch of sunshine!
Here comes the sun little darling!
Those rhinos look like they need a little sun, but there is another trick that I like to use besides just the obvious splash of gold from the Split Toning module. Would you guess that I’ve also added some purple in there?
You don’t have to do this, but I like to balance out my shadows with a hint of a complimentary color when changing highlights to keep the photo looking a bit more natural and dynamic. I also don’t like the way that greens look when they have too much yellow in them. A splash of purple in the shadows helps tone down the yellow-green in the foliage to keep the focus on the main subjects in the photos. You could also just call it a personal quirk. ;)
These rhinos look pretty good, but still need a little more smooching from the sun, so let’s tweak the Tone Curve panel a bit. We want to brighten the highlights, but still maintain that low contrast look so we don’t lose the haze. A “zig-zag” pattern (what I call it) works nicely here (see below). I do this because it maintains a balance between the different tonal ranges.
The effect is a bit subtle, but nice, I think. And now, we have happy, sunny rhinos.
Step 5: Save it as a preset
One last step… If you love it, then save it as a preset, but only save the changes to the properties that you adjusted, so that you can still change things like Exposure separately from this preset.
Can this be used on different subjects?
Yes! One thing to keep in mind is that I made this preset on a photo that is more of a landscape than a portrait. What happens if I apply it to a portrait where the subject is much closer and the lighting contrast is much different?
It’s a little too hazy, but no problem. If we see something like this, we can make minor tweaks to bring back a little contrast and brightness as shown below. I turned the Contrast back up a bit, turned the Blacks back down, and brightened with Exposure. I then renamed the preset above as “Sun Kissed - Landscapes” and saved this one as “Sun Kissed - Portraits”.
Happy shooting (and editing)!