As a finishing touch, you may wish to convert to a black and white image. In this example, I used Nik's Silver Efex Pro 2 to get all of the 15 zones of Ansel Adams, from pure white to pure black, represented in the image:
For a color image, I typically will make three modifications. Here is the image, ready for the final touches:
At the top of the layer stack, create a merged composite layer (Option-Merge Visible from the Layer Panel's flyout menu), then activate Nik's Color Efex Pro 4 plugin from Photoshop's filter menu. I start with the Darken/Lighten preset. For an image like this, I set the Center Size to 85%, place the Center point on the model, cheating a little more toward her head, and adjust the Center and Border Luminosity sliders to taste. Next click the + Add Filter button and add a Brilliance/Warmth layer. I will usually drag the Warmth slider to the left to cool the image. This enhances the blues in the skies and water and helps to blend the model into the background. I do not worry too much about cooling the model's skin, because I will usually warm it using the plugin I will describe next. On a third layer, try adding the White Neutralizer. This renders a pinkish color cast on the image. I often will drag the Adjust Whole Image slider to the left to reduce it to around 10% or so. Lastly, I will add Pro Contrast to a fourth layer, with the Dynamic Contrast slider set to around 15%:
Next I will create another merged, composite layer (Option-Merge Visible from the Layer Panel's flyout menu) at the top of the layer stack and activate MacPhun's Intensify CK filter and run the Dreamy preset. See my blog posts on May 29, 2016 (Warming A Glamour Retouch) and October 7, 2016 (How to Warm with the Dreamy Preset of Intensify CK) for more information on this plugin. The Dreamy preset warms the image, but the Amount slider must be lowered considerably in most cases:
Finally, at the top of the layer stack, I usually add a Curves adjustment layer set to the layer blend mode of Multiply to further vignette the image. Of the various ways to vignette an image, this is the best for two reasons:
- It uses an adjustment layer instead of a pixel layer, so it adds very little to the overall file size.
- The placement of the vignette can be exactly where you want it.
On the white Curves mask, simply paint over the model with a large, 0% hard black Brush. Adjust the opacity of the Curves layer so that the brush strokes cannot be seen. This is often around 20%:
In Part 10, the final instalment of this series, a few special effects will be shown to hopefully spur your creativity.