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Saturday, July 28, 2007

Hard Light

So I'll start this blog off with a quick post about using the blend mode known as hard light. If you've used the layer feature in Adobe Photoshop, you probably know that there are a multitude of blend modes, from normal to overlay to soft light, among many others. These blend modes can be used for a variety of effects, including special effects as well as simple photo touch-up.

I like to use the hard light blend mode to brighten up my pictures (usually landscape or nature photographs). Adobe describes hard light as follows:
Multiplies or screens the colors, depending on the blend color. The effect is similar to shining a harsh spotlight on the image.

If the blend color (light source) is lighter than 50% gray, the image is lightened, as if it were screened. This is useful for adding highlights to an image. If the blend color is darker than 50% gray, the image is darkened, as if it were multiplied. This is useful for adding shadows to an image. Painting with pure black or white results in pure black or white.
Right. Basically what that means is that bright things get brighter, and dark things get darker. These are the steps I use to add some extra color to my more dull pictures:
  1. Duplicate the background layer.
  2. In the new layer, increase contrast by about 40.
  3. Gaussian blur, around 8-12 (adjust depending on size of the picture).
  4. Set blend mode to hard light.
  5. Decrease layer opacity until you get something you like.
I don't believe in giving exact values for these steps, because I feel like it's better to adjust the numbers until you end up with the result you wanted. So play around with these values as much or as little as you want.

As I said, this is one of my favorite ways to make my pictures more vivid. The results can be subtle or strong (click the images for larger, clearer versions):


Subtle, medium, and strong.
(Layer opacity: 25%, 50%, 100%)

So that's the end of this post. If you use this for any of your pictures, show me!

1 comment:

Tallulah said...

Interesting to know.

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