Coffee With Amanda! Color Pop with Soft Focus Tutorial!

I am so excited to introduce Amanda!  Amanda and I have a lot in common, like our love of Pioneer Woman, homeschooling, chickens and taking photos of weeds, kids and farm animals.  So when she touched base with my on my CoffeeShop Flickr Group and asked if she could write a few tutorials for my blog I was completely thrilled!  Not only would I learn some new techniques along with my readers, but I would get a much needed break from the computer.  :-) 



Me
Meet Amanda! I am a "Pioneer Woman" of sorts, although not nearly as talented, witty or culinarily gifted as the real one. I grew up in the suburbs or on military bases, but ended up in country on a cattle and chicken farm an hour from any sizeable town. I am a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom to four children, ages 11 to 4.

My photography journey started last spring, and it has quickly become a passion. Most of my subjects are my kids, the cows, my mother-in-law's flowers and my weeds (they're prettier in a picture than in real life). I enjoy editing (with PSE 7) and continue to learn daily. The tutorials I write are very basic and well documented so that brand new users can learn how to use their editing software.

I recently started a photography resource blog, PhotographyHaven where you can find lots of free actions, tutorials, workshops and more. You can view my personal pictures at Moving Forward or my Flickr stream.

Today I am going to show you a VERY simple way to give your photos a quick, soft focus effect, plus a little pop in color, which sometimes is all a picture needs. I edit with Photoshop Elements 7, but these steps can be done in both PS and PSE.


If you wonder what's up with all the screen shots, I'm a very visual learner and when I was trying to learn PSE, so many times steps were mentioned but weren't shown and I was like "where do I change the blending mode?!" So, I documented this tutorial the way The Pioneer Woman documents her recipes (LOVE that she does that!).

The BEFORE shot (SOOC except for Web resizing):

Before shot for guest post

Step 1: Open your picture in the Full edit mode of your PSE. Make a duplicate layer of your image (easy way: press Control and J at the same time).

duplicatelayershotWEB

Step 2: Go to (1st) Filters, then (2nd) Blur, then (3rd) Gaussian Blur. After you've done that, another box will pop up.

filterblurmenuArrowsWEB

Step 3: Set the radius to around 20 for a high resolution image, 6-10 for low resolution one. That says 20, you just can't see it. ;-)

radiousshotWEB2

Step 3.5: If you want a lighter, dreamy look, you can lower the opacity of the layer down to like 30% (image below) and be done. Flatten and save. However, I want some color pop, so I moved on to step 4.

blurNOsoftlightWEB


Step 4: Set the (1st) Blending mode to (2nd) Soft Light. Any of you saying "oh, that's where we change the blending mode!" like I did?


softlightscreenWEB

Step 5: Lower the opacity to suit your tastes.

loweropacityWEB3

Step 6: Flatten. A quick what to do it without going to the top menu is to click on the double arrows (1st) and then on Flatten (2nd).

After saving your image as a JPG, apply watermark if you like (read previous post for a tutorial on watermarking) and then run Rita's Web resizing and drop shadow action if you're posting on your blog.

flattenshotWEB

The AFTER shot (doesn't have vignette yet):

After shot without vignette

And, I'll go one step further: Here is a side by side comparison for you.

B_ATutCollageWEB


If you're sitting there thinking "Gosh, that wasn't much of a change," well, you're right, it isn't. It is a slight edit that is simple and fast, but definitely improves the photo. Sometimes slight edits are the best edits. Take it from me, it is easy to do too much to a picture!


I hope this was easy to understand and helps you in the future. If you'd like to see more pictures with this effect, you can go to my Flickr page; I've used it on most of my cow pictures like this one.

If you use this on your pictures, I'd love to see it. Just leave me a comment with your blog address and I'll go visit to ohh and awww over it.

Almost forgot. If I had stopped at step 3.5, here is what the image would look like. Soft and dreamy for sure!
editBlur_DSC7359WEB

14 Comments:

Anonymous May 3, 2010 at 1:22 PM  

Thanks Amanda, I enjoyed the tutorial very much. Since I am a bit heavy handed w/post processing, it spoke to me! I love the dreamy look.

Is the vignette you spoke of contained in Rita's web and drop shadow action?

Rita, thanks for keeping us supplied with tutorials!

hootnonny

Cottage Sisters May 3, 2010 at 1:24 PM  

I love love love that you have all of the screen shots. I just started learning PSE8 and I find with tutorials they sometimes leave something out because they are talking to a more experienced user than I am. I will be printing this off and practicing when I get home. I'm sure I will be reading your resource blog a lot! Thanks so much! Denise@cottagesisters

Jenny May 4, 2010 at 9:28 AM  

Thanks for this great tutorial! I never thought to blend a blur. (That makes sense to PS/PSE users, right?) I'm a visual learner too, so I appreciate all the screen shots.

CraftCrave May 4, 2010 at 11:02 AM  

Just a quick note to let you know that a link to this post will be placed on CraftCrave today [04 May 03:00pm GMT]. Thanks, Maria

Kirstie H. May 4, 2010 at 11:24 AM  

I am new to editing and will be purchasing PSE this week. Thanks for the step by step tutorial. It is just what I needed.

Dawn Farias May 4, 2010 at 1:18 PM  

Great tutorial!! Nice job, Amanda!

Stephanie May 4, 2010 at 5:16 PM  

Thank you so much for this tutorial! I did it on one of my own and posted it on my blog!
http://myplacetocreate.blogspot.com/2010/05/may-5-2010.html

Monique May 4, 2010 at 5:22 PM  

Thanks so much for the great tutorial. I am also a very visual learner. So, the step by step screen shots really helps.

Amanda May 5, 2010 at 8:17 AM  

Thank you all for the gracious comments! It was on honor to have this tutorial on Coffeeshop.

Tora May 5, 2010 at 9:44 AM  

Just wanted to let you know I did try this on a photo I had and just posted it on my blog. You are welcome to take a look and cc´s if you would be so kind.
http://agnarogn13.blogspot.com/2010/05/etta-er-ekki-ori-gjafakorti-ea.html

Thank you
tora

Yvette May 5, 2010 at 4:31 PM  

wow, excellent, easy to follow and loved the screen shots and arrows! great job. give us more!!!

Lynn May 5, 2010 at 11:03 PM  

Hi! Thanks for the nice quick edit tutorial. I love actions, but it is fun to do the editing myself and this combined a couple of things I do already, but not together. I really like the effect. Here is a photo I used it on already.
http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4061/4582589589_1cde469d0f.jpg

O Schrock May 7, 2010 at 11:25 PM  

Thanks, Nice and easy!
Is this basically the same as PW's "Lovely and Ethereal" action? I use the one converted for PSE7 but I've wondered if this isn't essentially what it does?
http://thepioneerwoman.com/photography/2008/04/actions/

Anonymous May 9, 2010 at 8:37 AM  

thanks Amanda, can't wait to try it, so nice of you to do complete step by step instructions.Phillipa.