The lighting in a photograph is very important in helping to determine the mood and overall effect a photo can have on the viewer. However, even though the shot seems to be set up exactly as you want, there is just something missing from the final product and it is at this point you realise there will always be something outside of your control.
This photo needed to be shot with a high shutter speed in order to catch the models as they are in the air; however this meant that the light is not as strong as I would like. The photograph is evidently meant to have an elated and happy feel, but due to the darkness of the sky this gets dulled slightly. What I want to do is bring back the light in this photograph and add some bloom to the light source so that the mood is lifted and looks as good as it should feel.
Step 1. Open your image and duplicate the background layer, renaming the new layer to Bloom or something like that. Then duplicate the background layer a second time and rename this layer to Correction. Place the Correction in between the Bloom and Background layers for later.
Step 2. Now we need to know where our light source is. For me it's obviously the sun, but if you are working with a photo that has a very diffused light source, such as the sun shining through clouds, open Adjust, Brightness and Contrast Levels and drag the black arrow at the left of the histogram all the way to the right. This will make all but the brightest areas black, allowing you to see where the source of the light is, press Cancel to avoid applying this change.
Step 3. In the Bloom layer open Adjust, Blur, Radial Blur. Click the Zoom option on the right of the image, as this will make the blur radiate from the point you designate rather than blur around it in the other modes. In the left hand thumbnail at the top of the window there will be a small cross; left click and drag this to the spot where your light is emanating from, mine is partially obscured by one of the figures so I'll have to position it in the left side of mine. Increase the Strength setting depending on the resolution of your image until you get a noticeable effect, but not one that destroys the detail of the picture.
Before you apply it have a look at the effect and you will possibly see that there are actually some dark areas being dragged into the light source. To avoid this we need to use the Protect Centre setting, which basically stops the blur affecting an area around the focal point. Increasing the setting creates a wider perimeter of immunity around the central point, so increase this if you have dark areas bleeding into the middle and click OK.
Step 4. Now we have a blur occurring that allows the light to cut into the dark areas of the image, however it is pretty stark and has straight lines throughout, so we need to cut back on that. Open Adjust,Blur, Gaussian Blur and apply enough blur to soften the edges and make the light a little more diffused where it cuts into the figures.
Step 5. Now temporarily hide this layer by pressing the eye next to the layer thumbnail. We are now going to prepare our Correction layer. Since we are trying to lighten the picture but want to keep the figures dark we need to create a corrective layer that will do this for us quickly and easily, so open Adjust, Brightness and Contrast Levels and bring the white arrow all the way to the left this time so that everything but the darkest parts of the image are white. Of course if your figures are not quite black don't bring the arrow as far across, and if your aim is to actually darken the image, you'll want to create a dark layer instead.
Step 6. There will possibly still be some exaggerated colours present in some parts of the image, for instance where my hill was I now have purple and blue speckling, so to prevent this altering the colour of my image I need to remove that. The quickest method is to open Effects, Photo ,Effects, Black and White Film and apply the default settings.
Step 7. Now, change the layer mode for the Correction layer to Overlay, the one you use will change depending on your image. This mode is always a good one to try first before seeing if you can improve on it later. After this, make the Bloom layer visible again by clicking on the eye and then change the layer mode to Screen.
Step 8. Finally, change the opacity of the Correction layer to change the brightness of the exposure. If you can't get it quite right try a different layer mode for the Bloom layer such as Lighten, or alternatively try a different mode for the Correction layer. Keep trying different settings until you find something that reflects the mood of the image you wish to create.
That's the end to your tutorial about creating bloom to add impact to a photograph.