Using Multiple Digital Tools to Enhance Dark Photos


One of the great things about digital scrapbooking is that you have the ability to change the look of your photos using a combination of Photoshop tools and digital elements. For this layout, I began with a photograph that was not quite a silhouette, but close to it. I knew that I could use the Photoshop command curves (or maybe levels) to modify the image, but I find that it often works better if I play around with curves, the shadows/highlight command, blend modes and clipping masks and/or fotoglows as well. In this layout, I used a little of all of these, playing around with the effects until I was happy with the result.  I felt that the original photo was too dark to really tell the story, so I set out to change the image to make it easier to see the various details within the photo.
Begin with a template.  This one is Anna’s Artsy Layered Template no. 152.

Artsy Layered Template No 152

1.  Prepare your photo.  Turn off all of the layers on the template except for the 3 frames and frame shadows. Add a vector mask to each shadow, and  removed the shadow portion on the inside of each frame (as the photo clipping masks will not be used, due to the photo extending beyond the frames). Insert a background paper of your choice in a soft neutral color.  Keep in mind that using many of the blend modes will cause the photo to mix with the background paper colors, so choose your paper color accordingly.  Insert, and position the photo under the frames.

JSchaefer_Seaweed - Discover_1a

Place the photo on blend mode ‘Color Burn’.  It will wash out the photo, blending with the color from the background paper to give it a soft neutral, golden cast.

JSchaefer_Seaweed - Discover_2e

Apply a vector mask to the photo holding down the ‘ALT’ key and clicking on the vector mask.  This will cause the photo to disappear.  Then, making sure the ‘layer mask thumbnail’ in clicked in the layer stack, paint back in the portion of the photo you wish to show, using a soft white brush, at an opacity of about 15%, slowly building up the image. Duplicate the photo, and place the photo highest on the layer stack back on the ‘Normal’ blend mode. This, of course will show the original (dark) photo. Use the shadow/highlight command on this photo, to show more detail from the shadowed areas of the photo, and then use curves, to lighten the photo.  Now begin gradually painting out areas of the photo using a soft black brush to allow more of the photo layer below to show through.

JSchaefer_Seaweed - Discover_3e

2.  Begin adding glows.  Add the various fotoglows, to deepen the color of the water, to enhance the beach and to create a sunset. Add a vector mask to the glows and paint out (erase) the area of color in the white of the waves, and the little girl, so that the color stays looking natural.

JSchaefer_Seaweed - Discover_4e

3.  Use Template layers.  Begin turning template layers back on, manipulating their color and blend modes.  Add various other brushwork and transfers from other kits if desired.

JSchaefer_Seaweed - Discover_5e

4.  Embellish.  Add elements along the edge of the frame.  Add the UrbanStitchez.

JSchaefer_Seaweed - Discover_6e

5. Finishing Touches.  Add the DISCOVER BigWord.  I was lucky that the O encircled the little girl, otherwise I probably would have shifted the photo a bit. It could have been consider finished at this point, but often times a pages which have a great deal of brushwork and texture can benefit by adding an edge overlay to frame the page. Two were added here, one in a deep aqua, and another in a golden yellow.

JSchaefer_Seaweed - Discover_final-e

Click on image for layout supplies

So, before you decide to bypass that “too dark” photo, which holds a special memory you wish you could scrap, try some of these techniques.  You may be pleasantly surprised to find that that special memory can be scrapped afterall.  Be sure to experiment with other blend modes as well.

Need a helping hand for some of these blending techniques, see AnnaBlendz 1, 2 and 3




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