Adding a Gobo to a Boudoir Portrait

One of my biggest fascinations with boudoir photography is the quality and color of the light falling on the subject which comes from an imaginary, usually unseen, window. To give this window light (which is added in post production) more realism, a gobo can be used to cast a shadow of the window onto the scene. Here is the initial image of the model Andrelica:

Beginning image of Andrelica.

Beginning image of Andrelica.

First, I wanted to cool down the entire image to simulate the blue, crepuscular light of dawn or dusk. One of Photoshop's Photo Filters, specifically the Cooling Filter (80) was added. Its density was set to 100%, but the opacity of this layer was reduced to 80%:

The entire image has been given a wash of bluish light.

The entire image has been given a wash of bluish light.

This is a step in the right direction, but her hair, face and upper body need to be lighter. A Curves adjustment layer, with the mid-tone point pulled higher, was added. The layer mask of the Curves layer was inverted to black to hide the lightness, but it was painted back in where I wanted using a soft, white, brush set at 50% opacity:

Parts of Andrelica have been lightened.

Parts of Andrelica have been lightened.

Although I desire the bluish look, I wanted her to be a little warmer. A Brilliance/Warmth filter was added from the Nik Color Effex Pro 4 collection. A black mask was added to hide the effect, but it was painted back in where I wanted it with a soft, 50% opacity white brush. The change is subtle:

A small amount of warming has been added to the model.

A small amount of warming has been added to the model.

Next, a second Curves adjustment layer was added, with the midpoint pulled up. I wanted to lighten the model a bit. This also lightened the edges of the image, but I knew I would be vignetting the image in the final step. Here is the slightly lighter version:

The entire image is now lighter.

The entire image is now lighter.

A window gobo from LayerCake was chosen. The one I liked is called Lattus Gobo: 

Lattus Gobo from Layer Cake. In Photoshop, the white portions show as checkerboard because they are transparent.

Lattus Gobo from Layer Cake. In Photoshop, the white portions show as checkerboard because they are transparent.

This was placed on top of the layer stack, with no further adjustments made to this layer:

The Lattus Gobo in place.

The Lattus Gobo in place.

The soft light now looks as though it is streaming through a big window with multiple panes. As a final touch, I went back to the Nik Color Efex Pro 4 collection, where I added the Darken/Lighten Center filter to darken the edges. This slight vignetting effect helps to focus the viewer's eye on the model:

Final.

Final.

As with all retouches, tiny incremental changes are best. Often, I will try several approaches to achieve the effect I envision, and then choose what looks best.