Like Gary, I enjoy making images with impact, but that’s not always possible. What’s more, not every image should have a strong or dramatic effect on the viewer. It’s a personal choice.
When I’m working and playing in Photoshop and Lightroom, as well as with plug-ins, I also like to create images with impact, using some cool techniques that you can try on your images.
Here’s the file from which I created the opening image for this column. It’s a nice enough, soft and pleasing shot that I took during a recent workshop in Merritt Island, Fla. With my photographer friend Gary in mind, I thought about making an image with impact. My idea was to create a much more dramatic sky, the kind created when a neutral-density (ND) filter is used for a long exposure. During a long exposure, moving clouds appear as soft and dreamy streaks in the sky.
To create my altered-reality sky, I decided to use Photoshop’s Radial Blur Zoom filter (Filter > Blur > Radial Blur > Zoom).
First, I cropped my image. Cropping often results in an image with more impact because it draws more attention to the main subject. Never underestimate the power of cropping, which gives us a second chance at composition.
I only wanted the blur effect in the sky. Had I used an ND filter for an in-camera photograph, the water in the foreground would also have been softened and blurred. I could have created that effect in Photoshop, too, but I thought the blurred and sharp areas of the picture would produce an image with more impact because an image with a global blur (entire image), rather than a selective blur (sky only), isn’t the standard long-exposure image that we normally see.
To apply a filter, any filter, in Photoshop selectively, go to Filter > Convert for lgart Filters. A lgart filter lets you mask out (paint out) and mask in (paint back in) select areas of an image, a technique I’ll outline in just a moment.