We all love watching sunsets, looking at pictures of sunsets and, of course, photographing sunsets! The warm colors—deep shades of red, orange and yellow—evoke feelings of peace and tranquility and a sense of awe at nature’s wonders.
In this column, I’ll share with you a few Photoshop Elements techniques for improving on Mother Nature’s colorful daily finale. You can apply similar enhancements in most other photo software and, of course, in Photoshop CS2/CS3.
In Photoshop, the dialog boxes and the menu commands will be slightly different than described and shown here, but you’ll be able to achieve the same end result. Let’s start the fun-and the creative process!
Step Three Next, I wanted to see how a color variation of the scene could enhance my picture, so, you guessed it, I went to Enhance > Adjust Color > Color Variations. In the Color Variations window, with Midtones selected, I clicked on Increase Blue because I wanted a deeper shade of blue in the sky.
Step Five When you’re in the Variations window, you can click on an option more than once for a more or less intense effect. You also can undo your choice(s) by clicking on Undo until you’re back to where you started. In the variation shown, I clicked on Decrease Blue twice and Increase Red twice, which gave me a golden sunset-a dramatic effect, indeed. However, I preferred my first, more natural-looking variations, and I wanted to see what else I could do with my sunset image, so I kept playing.
I thought it might be interesting to create the look of a wide panorama. In the Image Size window (Image > Resize > Image Size), I unchecked the Constrain Proportions box and doubled the width of my file from its original five inches to 10 inches. Then I cropped off the top and bottom of the frame.
Step Seven Here’s my “stretched” image. If you like panoramas, try this technique with some of your landscapes as well as seascapes. Just don’t overdo it (that is, stretch your image too long) or your subjects will look too unnatural.
Then the idea of the sunset reflected in a still pond popped into my mind, so I thought I’d try the mirror effect on my image, which is actually quite easy to create. Here’s how to do it.
Step Eight The first step is to make a reflected image. Go to Select > All and then to Edit > Copy. Now, go to File > New Document. A new document will be created exactly the same size of your copied image; when you copy something in Photoshop and then immediately create a new file, the dimensions of the new file will be sized to fit what you copied. Go to File > Paste and your image will be pasted into the new document.
The next step is to flip the image. That’s done by going to Image > Rotate > Flip Vertically. Take a deep breath-you’re almost done! Move your upside-down image out of the way on your monitor and return to your original image.
Step Nine Click on your original image and go to Image > Resize > Canvas Size and check the top/middle box. Double the height of the image. I changed the height from five inches to 10 inches simply by typing in 10 in the Height window.
For a more realistic image, darken the mirror image by selecting that layer and going to Enhance > Adjust Lighting > Adjust Levels and moving the shadow triangle (on the left side of the slider) a bit to the right.
Rick Sammon has published 27 books, including Idea to Image, R
ick Sammon’s Complete Guide to Digital Photography 2.0, Rick Sammon’s Travel and Nature Photography and Rick Sammon’s Digital Imaging Workshops. Visit www.ricksammon.com for more information and meet up with Rick at one of the PCPhoto/Outdoor Photographer workshops.