I love this shot I got of a bride at the best photography workshop I’ve ever attended. However, the focus was a bit soft.
The focus isn’t terrible – in fact, for a 5×7 or 8×10, it might be just fine. But look what happens when you zoom in to those eyes and her hair:
That’s just softer than I like. After some experimenting in Photoshop Elements, I decided this photo would look nice with a romantic glow added to it, so rather than trying to repair the blur with heavy sharpening (which wouldn’t make it perfect anyway), I decided just to go with it.
Here’s what I did:
- Ran MCP Magic Skin. I changed the layer mask that Magic Skin created for me so that it lightly softened the dress as well as the skin.
- Ran Magic Clarity from MCP Bag of Tricks. Those two actions got me here:
- Added my favorite vignette. Stamp the visible layers by typing control+alt+shift+e (command+option+shift e on Mac). Use the marquee tool set to a high feather to select the area that you don’t want to be darkened by the vignette. Delete this area and change the blend mode of the layer to Multiply.
- Used Stamp Visible again.
- Went to Filter/Blur/Gaussian Blur and set the radius to about 15 pixels – more or less depending on your image.
- Changed the blend mode of this layer to Soft Light. Isn’t it awesome how that gets rid of the major blur?
- So, at this point I’m thinking, yeah, I like this, so I need to clean up the undereye circles.
- Flattened the image, duplicate the background layer, set the clone tool to 70% with the tool blend mode at Lighten, and wipe away those dark circles.
- Finished with the free MCP High Definition Sharpening. That’s it!
Here is the final:
This is a great example of how I don’t stress about workflow order too much. I wasn’t sure exactly where to take this photo when I started. I would normally recommend removing under eye circles first, for instance, but I wasn’t sure it it was worth the time for this image until I added the blur.
Also, I would normally add a vignette towards then end, just before sharpening. I guess I did it earlier this time because I was thinking perhaps I was finished with my edit but decided otherwise? I honestly can’t say for sure.
The point is that the photo looks fine, right? Don’t stress over workflow order!
Also, I hope that you’re wondering why I used Stamp Visible sometimes and Flattened others! Because that’s a great question and I want to tell you about it. I used stamp visible until I was sure that the edit was on the right path. I didn’t flatten because I thought I might need to go back and adjust the Magic Skin or Magic Clarity layers at some point. It’s easier to undo a stamp visible than it is to undo all your edits and start over.
That’s my tutorial for the week. I love this Gaussian Blur at Soft Light method in Photoshop Elements. If you try it, I’d love for you to post it on my Facebook page. See ya there!