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Another Quick and Dreamy Photoshop Tutorial for Nature Photography

Joe was digging through some of our older folders of digital photography, looking for pretty pictures of flowers and trees… and he opened one folder from April 2008, containing pictures I’d taken at the City Park on a very dreary day. All of the images were dull and deeply shadowed, because I didn’t realize that by adjusting the aperture, I could allow more light into the camera. Some of them even used flash ~ on an outdoor nature photo! Eeek gads!

Standing over his shoulder, watching as he clicked through each failed shot, I defended the pitiful images by hinting that Photoshop might cheer them up.

“There might be diamonds in the rough”, I whined.

He clicked past this image:
dark photo flower blossoms on a tree, unedited

“Wait!!” I squealed. “Go back!”

I knew this photograph had potential… and told him to give me 20 minutes with it. As he waited and watched, perched my drafting chair, I sat down at the computer and opened Photoshop.

I wanted to use a soft gradient filter to bring out the colors (perhaps a gold, pink, and purple) … and I also decided to produce a bokeh effect in the background for added warmth and light.

Beginning with Levels to brighten the photo:

Using Levels in Photoshop to brighten photograph

Sliding the white cursor to the left....

Next, I made a copy layer of the photo. On the background (bottom) image, I increased the redness of the mid-tones. On the duplicate layer, I increased the blueness of the shadows.

Increasing color midtones and shadows in Photoshop

Side by side view of the color changes

For the bokeh texture, I raided my “stock” folder where I keep various photographic textures I’ve scanned, photographed, or found online. In this case, I’d created some bokeh textures last summer by photographing leafy tree branches out of focus.
If you shoot fuzzy trees intentionally, you’ll get this:

bokeh lights created by shooting out of focus leafy tree branches

I had added a yellow/gold gradient to this image afterwards.

I added my bokeh texture layer over the reddish background image, and set the blending mode to Screen, with 69% Opacity.

Then I created a gradient filter using a salmon pink and purple… and set the blending mode to Overlay, at 60% Opacity.
Using gradient filter in Photoshop to add soft pastel colors to image

Lastly, I moved the blue-tinted copy of my flower image to the very top of the layered heap. I set the blending mode to Overlay, with a 39% Opacity, making the shadows and edges more pronounced.

Dreamy soft flower blossom branch, gold sunlight, spring photograph by TaraFly

Almost finished....

This is the point where I turned to Joe and said, “See?! It looks much better now… right?”
And he conceded that it did look very nice. Because he is a well-trained husband who knows not to disagree with me. ;)

We printed it onto some Velvet Fine Art paper to test it out….
Fine art photography, flowers nature photo in frame

But I decided it still needed a little something more, especially as the Velvet fine art paper gave it the appearance of a watercolor painting on paper.

So I created a textured border to mimic a fine art painting:
Using layers and wet media eraser tool to create a painted effect in PS

To do this, add a white layer over the image, and “erase” it with a wet or dry media style brush to expose the photo underneath…. I used Heavy Scattered Flow, in the eraser mode.

Ultimately, I erased most of the image, just leaving a thin ragged border that looks sort-of like paint daubs on watercolor paper.

Dreamy soft nature flower photography by TaraFly

And now it’s finished! :)

This exercise has inspired me to take a second look at some of my discarded photographs, to see whether any of them can be transformed in the same manner. I might wind up with an entire series. ;)

Try this yourself! I’d love to see how you rescued a lifeless print by uncovering its hidden beauty. ♥

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