Photo Retouching: Light Adjusting
When you are taking on an image retouching project, you do not want to apply effects to the image as a whole. You want to address individual objects in the image throughout the process so that the effects are blended into a seamless design. Create layers throughout the image that settle over specific areas you would like to edit. You can also create clipping paths to define the edges of individual objects so you can enhance the contrast around the edges or create a shadowed effect beneath the object.
Once you start adjusting the mid-tone contrast of the image, you will need to use your photo retouching software to blend the edges of the effect. Your editing program should have an option to blend interior effects across separate layers. This will ensure that any adjustments you make to one object will be mimicked across other light levels. Blending layers simultaneously helps ensure that all portions of the photograph match when you are finished. Adjust transparency of the layer separately so you do not lose color or shadow effects as the layers change. Also, set the gradient levels for different layers separately based on the lighting levels in that area of the image.
If your photo contains a widely varied lighting level such as a sunset, focus on altering the gradient of the image rather than trying to apply photo retouching techniques to separate objects. You can enhance the colored hues naturally found in the image, or you can add a new color scheme to alter the effect of the image. Adding orange tones can create a warm tone for the photo and blue tones can be used to add a cooler tone. Use the eyedropper tool to select a color from the image to use a guide for your gradient adjustments.
When adjusting colors on clear objects such as water droplets you do not want to add a single layer to the photo. As the light is bent through the shape of the object, the colors will alter. Use blended gradients across the image when you apply your photo retouching techniques to add brightness in the center of the object that gently tapers off as you reach the edges. You can also use a blending tool to blur the color in an area where the light hits the object to write it out. Set the angles for these adjustments at a high level to reflect the movement in the object. When you use an image retouching, you will understand how versatile and easy to use it is.